Everything You Need to Know Before Taking a World Cruise

Insider advice for notching some serious nautical miles.

As in-depth itineraries (and improved onboard Wi-Fi speeds) compel more travelers to spend entire seasons at sea, we turned to Virtuoso travel advisor Patty Perry, who specializes in cruises, for expert advice on joining an extended sailing.

Why are travelers cruising longer – and who are they?

I’m seeing a lot more interest in longer sailings, but not necessarily in the 100- to 150-day world cruises. Today, there are a lot of options for what are known in the industry as “grand voyages.” Silversea started with grand voyages around Europe, and they were very successful. On a grand voyage there’s more of a theme going on, focused on a specific area or a continent or two, without repeating ports. These tend to appeal to my retired clients, who have time to travel. Most of them don’t have pets. Some people can work while traveling and deal with the time changes, but personally, I find it hard after a few weeks.

How should we pack for a month-plus at sea?

You should consider where you’re going, what the average temperatures will be, and how active you’ll be off the ship. Most long cruises have a recommended packing list. A lot depends on whether laundry is included in the fare, or if the ship offers self-serve facilities. You can also ship luggage ahead, which may even be covered by some lines.

The Bistro is one of nine dining venues aboard Crystal Symphony.

What one thing should we not forget?

Bring an empty bag for souvenirs. On a long trip, I’ve even shipped things home.

What’s the vibe on these cruises?

People on longer cruises tend to be more outgoing. If you’re traveling solo, you’ll get many opportunities to meet people, because onboard events bring everyone together from the start. For my clients, keeping busy hasn’t been a problem – there’s plenty to do, even on sea days.

In It for the Long Haul

  • Explore the South Pacific on a 94-night round-trip sailing from San Diego aboard Holland America Line’s 1,432-passenger Volendam. The journey intersperses languid sea days with choice outposts from Hawaii to Fiji to French Polynesia. At the itinerary’s heart: circumnavigations of Australia and New Zealand. An enhanced onboard enrichment program featuring presentations from locals illuminates vivid capitals and quiet islands along the route. Departure: January 3, 2024.
  • This year sees the rebirth of Crystal (now owned by tour operator Abercrombie & Kent) and a refurbishment of Crystal Symphony that promises larger suites, a reimagined spa, and a new pickleball court, while capacity has been reduced by nearly one-third (to 606 passengers). The refreshed Symphony will sail 45 nights from Lisbon to Monte-Carlo, calling on 38 of the Mediterranean’s most desirable ports, including overnights in Venice, Istanbul, and Syracuse, Sicily. Departure: May 20, 2024.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises will embark on a 63-night journey from Tokyo to Sydney aboard Seven Seas Explorer, an all-suite, 746-passenger ship with five full-service dining venues, plus a tennis court and putting green. The itinerary features 11 ports throughout Japan –including two nights in Kobe, gateway to Kyoto – along with overnights in Saigon, Bangkok, and Bali before a jaunt down Australia’s east coast. Departure: October 18, 2024.