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Choosing a World Cruise


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I've decided to take a WC.  How do I choose?  Does anyone have a spreadsheet of criteria that they've used?  It's rather overwhelming with Cruise lines, ships ports, incentives, etc.   I'm thinking around 4 1/2 months, probably in 2026 with a balcony cabin.

Would love to hear how others have narrowed down the choices. Thanks!

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1 hour ago, Travel Lady in CT said:

I've decided to take a WC.  How do I choose?  Does anyone have a spreadsheet of criteria that they've used?  It's rather overwhelming with Cruise lines, ships ports, incentives, etc.   I'm thinking around 4 1/2 months, probably in 2026 with a balcony cabin.

Would love to hear how others have narrowed down the choices. Thanks!

We loved ours on Viking! 

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For me, it would first be with a cruise line I've had experience with and like. For us, that would be HAL, Celebrity, and Princess. There are, of course, many other cruise lines, but for us, these lines we know and trust. On a WC, however, Celebrity doesn't do them, and I've heard some less-than-great things about Princess WCs. Second, we look at the itinerary. Has to have a minimum of 50/50 port/sea day ratio, or close to. Having said that, HAL's 2026 WC is on the Volendam. We are booked on the Zaandam for Amazon in 2025, it's 27 days. I believe the Volendam and Zaandam are sister ships? I worry that the Zaandam might be a bit small for the Amazon trip with a lot of sea days, but it's shorter than a WC, so it'll be fine. I'm not sure we would enjoy 4.5 months on that size ship, though. And then we, of course, consider cost as well. Those are our main things.  🙂

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32 minutes ago, Guinness1000 said:

For me, it would first be with a cruise line I've had experience with and like. For us, that would be HAL, Celebrity, and Princess. There are, of course, many other cruise lines, but for us, these lines we know and trust. On a WC, however, Celebrity doesn't do them, and I've heard some less-than-great things about Princess WCs. Second, we look at the itinerary. Has to have a minimum of 50/50 port/sea day ratio, or close to. Having said that, HAL's 2026 WC is on the Volendam. We are booked on the Zaandam for Amazon in 2025, it's 27 days. I believe the Volendam and Zaandam are sister ships? I worry that the Zaandam might be a bit small for the Amazon trip with a lot of sea days, but it's shorter than a WC, so it'll be fine. I'm not sure we would enjoy 4.5 months on that size ship, though. And then we, of course, consider cost as well. Those are our main things.  🙂

Thank you.  I like Celebrity, but as you said, at this point they don't have a WC.  I enjoyed a HAL Alaska cruise, but the size of the Volendam for a WC is a concern of mine as well.

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15 minutes ago, Travel Lady in CT said:

Thank you.  I like Celebrity, but as you said, at this point they don't have a WC.  I enjoyed a HAL Alaska cruise, but the size of the Volendam for a WC is a concern of mine as well.

 

Just out of interest, what specific concerns do you have with the size of Volendam on a WC.

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4 hours ago, MacMadame said:

Don't most of these World Cruises happen on smaller ships -- like the Island Princess and Serenade of the Sea?

I have not seen facts validating your statement, but I believe it’s true that mega ships do not do a WC.  Oceania Cruises has traditionally used a 650 passenger ship for the WC, but beginning in 2026 will use a ship capable of 1200 passengers.  Cunard’s Queens have approximately 2,200 passengers.  Others?..

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If you are looking for 2026, see which cruise lines are not sold out in your desired cabin class.  The cheapest and most expensive cabins are likely sold out already, and on some lines the majority of cabins may be gone already for 2026.

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17 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

Just out of interest, what specific concerns do you have with the size of Volendam on a WC.

Small ship, not as many dining venues as say, Oceania, for such a long trip.  Also, limited perks -  no self-serve laundry, etc.  Likely to be less $ but at what cost ?

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10 hours ago, tigerfan75 said:

I have not seen facts validating your statement, but I believe it’s true that mega ships do not do a WC.  Oceania Cruises has traditionally used a 650 passenger ship for the WC, but beginning in 2026 will use a ship capable of 1200 passengers.  Cunard’s Queens have approximately 2,200 passengers.  Others?..

It was a question, not a statement. 😄

 

But also, if 90% of WCs take place on ships with less than, say, 2,500 passengers, that says to me that these cruises mostly happen on smaller ships. It doesn't have to be 100%.

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5 hours ago, bookbabe said:

If you are looking for 2026, see which cruise lines are not sold out in your desired cabin class.  The cheapest and most expensive cabins are likely sold out already, and on some lines the majority of cabins may be gone already for 2026.

Many of the WC haven't opened bookings yet.  For example, Oceania mid-March and HAL in May.

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12 minutes ago, Travel Lady in CT said:

Many of the WC haven't opened bookings yet.  For example, Oceania mid-March and HAL in May.


Weird.  Our 2026 Regent WC was booked in April, and the Viking has been out for a couple months, I think.  Didn’t realize that there were other lines that hadn’t released theirs yet.  

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1 hour ago, Travel Lady in CT said:

Many of the WC haven't opened bookings yet.  For example, Oceania mid-March and HAL in May.

We just booked the 2025-26 world cruise on Viking.  This cruise dropped mid Jan, I got a call about it before it was made public.  

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4 minutes ago, Mich3554 said:

We just booked the 2025-26 world cruise on Viking.  This cruise dropped mid Jan, I got a call about it before it was made public.  

Some are taking Future Cruise Requests, but not formal bookings yet.  Spoke to HAL and Oceania directly this week.

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Posted (edited)

Your budget is going to be a main driver but don’t forget to add everything in.  Are you going as a single?  Oceania Vista I believe has single cabins.  Budget and itinerary should help narrow it.   Do you want South America? Africa?  Antarctica?  Do you want dressy with Cunard? Or more laid back?  

Edited by Cruise Junky
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HAL just announced their 2026 WC will be on the Volendam. It is currently open for prebooking for people on the current WC. They will likely open it up for bookings in May.

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For our 1st WC (in 2019), our requirements were - not in priority order:

 

- full circumnavigation. I wanted to go completely around the world, not start in 1 country and finish in another (now not as important for future long cruises)

- East to West travel since it’s much easier to gain 1 hour every few days, than lose 1. Plus it’s harder on the crew. They still have the same amount of work to do, but only have 23 hrs to they lose an hr of sleep.

- Few, if any, included excursions. We are very active and much younger than a typical person on a WC. We don’t want to be stuck on a bus of 30-40 people. The tour can only go as fast as the slowest person. Plus all the long waits for people after a bathroom stop or “free time” when few people show up at the meeting spot at the designated time. We wanted to be independent.

- I don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or soda. Included beverages would be wasted on me and not worth the all inclusive price. DH does drink alcohol so he just pays by the drink or buys wine packages for dinner.

- Ratio of port to sea days. We wanted more than 50% port days.

- Price per day was a consideration, but not the driving factor.

- Availability and location of a desired cabin. Since we were newbies, we didn’t have preferential allocation of cabins (HAL allows current WCers the ability to book the same cabin year after year). We were very lucky to get a cabin we liked in the desired location.

- Ports - we wanted to experience as many new places as possible and not cities we had previously visited.

- Didn’t want to have to dress up for dinner every night in the main dining room. Some lines require a minimum of “country club” clothing. We wanted to be able to wear nice jeans (or capris for me) at dinner most nights and get dressed up for formal nights. DH didn’t want to wear a sport coat or jacket 

most nights.

- Size of ship - we thought ~1000 passengers was a good size. Didn’t want to go on a ship that only had 200-500. Many people are repeat customers and we didn’t want to feel left out since we didn’t know anyone. With a larger ship, we thought there was a greater chance of more newbies.

 

Hope this helps.

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I also booked the Regent Seven Seas 2025 World Cruise, some 24 months in advance.  Much depends on your budget as well as the itinerary.  That cruise just about booked in weeks, although I believe there are some cabins still available.

 

I don’t require the cruise to circumnavigate the globe to consider it a world cruise, although some people do. The itinerary is more important to me.  I didn’t mind visiting ports I’ve been to in the past, although most of these were many years ago anyway, and I would be visiting different places on the shore excursions.

 

Most, if not all, cruise companies include laundry on a world cruise. Tick!  Medical visits are also often included. Tick!

 

As a solo cruiser, I wanted shore excursions included.  I also wanted Champagne and premium cocktails included.

 

Silversea and Azamara had not released their 2025 world cruises when I booked with Regent.  With Azamara I would upgrade to the premium beverage package and factor in shore excursions.  Both those companies include flights from home, which is an added bonus.

 

Do you want/need glitzy production shows and more bars, dining and music venues?  This is an important factor to many cruisers.  I might consider HAL in the future.  A friend travelling solo on HAL’s current world cruise is thoroughly enjoying herself.  I would never consider Princess or Cunard for world cruises: just my personal choice.

 

You can see I prefer smaller ships, but do your research.  There is an itinerary and budget to suit most cruisers.

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4 hours ago, sandiego1 said:

For our 1st WC (in 2019), our requirements were - not in priority order:

 

- full circumnavigation. I wanted to go completely around the world, not start in 1 country and finish in another (now not as important for future long cruises)

- East to West travel since it’s much easier to gain 1 hour every few days, than lose 1. Plus it’s harder on the crew. They still have the same amount of work to do, but only have 23 hrs to they lose an hr of sleep.

- Few, if any, included excursions. We are very active and much younger than a typical person on a WC. We don’t want to be stuck on a bus of 30-40 people. The tour can only go as fast as the slowest person. Plus all the long waits for people after a bathroom stop or “free time” when few people show up at the meeting spot at the designated time. We wanted to be independent.

- I don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or soda. Included beverages would be wasted on me and not worth the all inclusive price. DH does drink alcohol so he just pays by the drink or buys wine packages for dinner.

- Ratio of port to sea days. We wanted more than 50% port days.

- Price per day was a consideration, but not the driving factor.

- Availability and location of a desired cabin. Since we were newbies, we didn’t have preferential allocation of cabins (HAL allows current WCers the ability to book the same cabin year after year). We were very lucky to get a cabin we liked in the desired location.

- Ports - we wanted to experience as many new places as possible and not cities we had previously visited.

- Didn’t want to have to dress up for dinner every night in the main dining room. Some lines require a minimum of “country club” clothing. We wanted to be able to wear nice jeans (or capris for me) at dinner most nights and get dressed up for formal nights. DH didn’t want to wear a sport coat or jacket 

most nights.

- Size of ship - we thought ~1000 passengers was a good size. Didn’t want to go on a ship that only had 200-500. Many people are repeat customers and we didn’t want to feel left out since we didn’t know anyone. With a larger ship, we thought there was a greater chance of more newbies.

 

Hope this helps.

This is pretty close to my list too!!!  So, who did you go with?

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6 hours ago, sandiego1 said:

For our 1st WC (in 2019), our requirements were - not in priority order:

 

- full circumnavigation. I wanted to go completely around the world, not start in 1 country and finish in another (now not as important for future long cruises)

- East to West travel since it’s much easier to gain 1 hour every few days, than lose 1. Plus it’s harder on the crew. They still have the same amount of work to do, but only have 23 hrs to they lose an hr of sleep.

- Few, if any, included excursions. We are very active and much younger than a typical person on a WC. We don’t want to be stuck on a bus of 30-40 people. The tour can only go as fast as the slowest person. Plus all the long waits for people after a bathroom stop or “free time” when few people show up at the meeting spot at the designated time. We wanted to be independent.

- I don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or soda. Included beverages would be wasted on me and not worth the all inclusive price. DH does drink alcohol so he just pays by the drink or buys wine packages for dinner.

- Ratio of port to sea days. We wanted more than 50% port days.

- Price per day was a consideration, but not the driving factor.

- Availability and location of a desired cabin. Since we were newbies, we didn’t have preferential allocation of cabins (HAL allows current WCers the ability to book the same cabin year after year). We were very lucky to get a cabin we liked in the desired location.

- Ports - we wanted to experience as many new places as possible and not cities we had previously visited.

- Didn’t want to have to dress up for dinner every night in the main dining room. Some lines require a minimum of “country club” clothing. We wanted to be able to wear nice jeans (or capris for me) at dinner most nights and get dressed up for formal nights. DH didn’t want to wear a sport coat or jacket 

most nights.

- Size of ship - we thought ~1000 passengers was a good size. Didn’t want to go on a ship that only had 200-500. Many people are repeat customers and we didn’t want to feel left out since we didn’t know anyone. With a larger ship, we thought there was a greater chance of more newbies.

 

Hope this helps.


As Xerxella says, that’s pretty close to our list.  Who did you go with?

 

We ended up with Regent, in a bigger cabin so we can have any restaurant, incl specialties, delivered for dinner as room service.  The evenings DH doesn’t want to wear pants, we’ll just hide in the cabin.  Their itinerary was pretty perfect for us, so that was a big part of our decision-making.

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7 hours ago, sandiego1 said:

For our 1st WC (in 2019), our requirements were - not in priority order:

 

- full circumnavigation. I wanted to go completely around the world, not start in 1 country and finish in another (now not as important for future long cruises)

- East to West travel since it’s much easier to gain 1 hour every few days, than lose 1. Plus it’s harder on the crew. They still have the same amount of work to do, but only have 23 hrs to they lose an hr of sleep.

- Few, if any, included excursions. We are very active and much younger than a typical person on a WC. We don’t want to be stuck on a bus of 30-40 people. The tour can only go as fast as the slowest person. Plus all the long waits for people after a bathroom stop or “free time” when few people show up at the meeting spot at the designated time. We wanted to be independent.

- I don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or soda. Included beverages would be wasted on me and not worth the all inclusive price. DH does drink alcohol so he just pays by the drink or buys wine packages for dinner.

- Ratio of port to sea days. We wanted more than 50% port days.

- Price per day was a consideration, but not the driving factor.

- Availability and location of a desired cabin. Since we were newbies, we didn’t have preferential allocation of cabins (HAL allows current WCers the ability to book the same cabin year after year). We were very lucky to get a cabin we liked in the desired location.

- Ports - we wanted to experience as many new places as possible and not cities we had previously visited.

- Didn’t want to have to dress up for dinner every night in the main dining room. Some lines require a minimum of “country club” clothing. We wanted to be able to wear nice jeans (or capris for me) at dinner most nights and get dressed up for formal nights. DH didn’t want to wear a sport coat or jacket 

most nights.

- Size of ship - we thought ~1000 passengers was a good size. Didn’t want to go on a ship that only had 200-500. Many people are repeat customers and we didn’t want to feel left out since we didn’t know anyone. With a larger ship, we thought there was a greater chance of more newbies.

 

Hope this helps.

Thanks, I appreciate the details.  Some things I hadn't considered, like your thoughts on 'included excursions'.

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4 hours ago, Xerxella said:

This is pretty close to my list too!!!  So, who did you go with?

HAL. 2019 and 2023. Obvious cuts on 2023 (too many people were sailing for free - using credits from 2020 and other cancelled cruises). But  we went with a group of friends we met on 2019 so we still had a great time. We are doing the Pole to Pole next year - great itinerary and lots of new ports for us. Not interested in another WC after that as there are too many repeat ports.

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23 minutes ago, sandiego1 said:

HAL. 2019 and 2023. Obvious cuts on 2023 (too many people were sailing for free - using credits from 2020 and other cancelled cruises). But  we went with a group of friends we met on 2019 so we still had a great time. We are doing the Pole to Pole next year - great itinerary and lots of new ports for us. Not interested in another WC after that as there are too many repeat ports.

Interesting perspective.  I heard from 2 TAs that's how people can take multiple WCs, with the perks they get having done them before.  Other have mentioned HAL cuts too.  Thanks!

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1 hour ago, Travel Lady in CT said:

Interesting perspective.  I heard from 2 TAs that's how people can take multiple WCs, with the perks they get having done them before.  Other have mentioned HAL cuts too.  Thanks!

Several friends are on the 2024 and all have stated it’s back to normal. I think 2023 was an anomaly because of all the canceled cruises 2020-2021. People that were were on the  2020, got 125% FCC. So their 2023 was completely free.

 

HAL doesn’t offer discounts for repeat WC. They do guarantee your same cabin if you book every year. There is a 3% discount and other perks if you book early and pay in full before June 1st. And if you are a frequent cruiser with a lot of ship days, you get perks like free laundry, half price wine packages, etc. All days count, not just WC days.

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