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World Cruises

This weekend the ships have been leaving Southampton for their world cruises.

Saga Rose & Saga Ruby were the first to leave, I believe – these two grand veterans ( the former Sagafjord and Vistafjord) left together on 5 January, and won’t return until mid-March or later. Then today (Sunday) Cunard’s QEII and Queen Victoria left Southampton together, and will stay together across the Atlantic to New York, then onwards to Ft Lauderdale. From there their paths will diverge, with Queen Victoria doing a true circumnavigation and returning to Southampton on 26 April after 106 nights; QEII will perform a Grand Voyage, going down the coast of South America, rounding Cape Horn into the Pacific, circling the Pacific with calls at New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Hawaii and the west coast of the US, before transiting the Panama Canal and returning to Southampton on 18 April.

P&O are world cruise regulars, of course, and Aurora will depart westwards tomorrow for an 80-night circumnavigation, returning on 28 March. Oriana in fact left today for a 101-night ‘Grand Voyage’ round Africa, into Asia, then around Australia, to China, and then westwards back through eastern Asia, India, the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and returning to Southampton on 16 April.

Finally (of those I know about) Fred Olsen’s Black Watch left Southampton on the 5th to begin a 107-night circumnavigation, while her sister ship Boudicca will start a 72-night circumnavigation of South America on 18 January, returning on 30 March. Black Watch doesn’t get back until 21 April….

It all sounds very romantic and ‘trip of a lifetime’ but here’s a heretical thought: in practice I’m not sure I could hack it. Many of these world cruises have long stretches of many days at sea, sometimes a week or more at a time. And I think you would have to have a suite to make it bearable – I really don’t think I could manage 100+ nights in a small inside cabin on an older ship! (which is what many of these ships are.) Nonetheless there is a long tradition of ‘going on a world cruise’ among wealthy or fortunate Brits, and the tradition is obviously not fading: twenty years ago and more there were only two ships available (QEII and P&O’s late lamented Canberra), and they didn’t both do them every year. Yet here we are with at least 8 ships doing these voyages this year.

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