Imagine the luxury of taking a long cruise, a very long cruise. I bet you’re thinking about a two- or three-week cruise, perhaps to the Med or the Caribbean? Think again!
This past weekend, the 930-passenger Viking Sun embarked on a very, very long cruise—an 8-month (245-day) cruise. Yes, that’s much longer than the length of most “world cruises,” whose itineraries typically range between 90 and 120 days.
Viking’s Ultimate World Cruise will take guests on a trip around the globe to 51 countries across six continents, with visits to 111 ports and overnight stops in 23 cities. Once the ship (and its passenger) accomplishes this feat, the achievement promises to be recognized by Guinness World Records as “the world’s longest continuous passenger cruise.”
For those who are reluctant to sign on for the full 245 days, Viking offers the option of boarding the world cruise for lengthier than usual “segments,” 127 and 119 days respectively. Most world cruises offered by other cruise lines allow passengers to book 20- and 30-day segments of longer journeys.
A very long cruise: Love it or leave it
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to board a cruise ship and sail the high seas for a full eight months.
Cruise lovers might think of it as pure bliss—not having to dread receiving the night-before baggage tags and disembarkation instructions (that come so quickly) signaling that a cruise is nearly over. Many love the idea of having nightly turndown service with chocolates on the pillows and being free of the hassles of cooking and cleaning at home. Count me in!
On the other hand, I know many friends who might feel claustrophobic or bored on a very long cruise, especially those who are queasy about ocean cruising. They might hate the idea of “sea days” when they would be limited to remaining on the ship without the possibility of going ashore. They might feel like any stateroom, even a larger one, is too confining for a long period of time. They may miss family or pets at home, or even familiar “things.”
When it comes to couples, a long cruise may appeal to one partner and not the other. Alternatively, solo travelers may face the dilemma of either having to pay the dreaded “single supplement,” (requiring them to pay a surcharge for a stateroom built for two) or finding a compatible roommate for the long haul.
Of course, taking a very long cruise also requires a significant commitment of time and money. Even the most-inclusive cruises usually entail extras, whether it’s for gifts or meals ashore, flight upgrades of other personal expenses. At the same time, most cruisers also have certain fixed costs that need to be paid at home whether they are there or not.
The case for a very long cruise
If you love cruising, and you have the requisite time—perhaps because you are retired or are a location independent worker—and you can afford it (the Viking Ultimate World Cruise starts at $92,990 per person), there are many compelling reasons to opt for a long cruise. Here are some of them:
1- More sea days
Sea days are a delight to those who love cruising. They allow you to sleep in late without FOMO (fear of missing out). They offer time to swim, use the gym, and enjoy the spa or to sit on your balcony and watch the sea.
2- More ports of call
Whether you’re on a barge, river cruise or ocean-going vessel, cruising allows travelers to visit cities, towns and small villages, almost effortlessly, without having to arrange local transportation. On a very long cruise, you’ll get to experience different cultures with different languages and foods and see iconic sights you may have only read about or seen on TV.
3- Closer relationships with crew
Although crew on all the ocean-going vessels we’ve traveled on have generally been extremely well-trained and able to anticipate passenger needs of all sorts, the gift of time allows crew and passengers to get to know each other more intimately. In a sense, they become a surrogate family at sea. Read my story on Forbes about a man who lived on a cruise ship for 13 years.
4- More time to foster friendships
Cruising—the experience of being in the same place, at the same time, and doing the same things—with strangers often turns them into fast friends. Being on a ship for an extended period of time, you’re likely to find your tribe, perhaps someone whom you met on an excursion, sat beside on a tender, exercised with in the fitness room, or met in the self-service laundry.
5- Greater exposure to culture
Cruise ships, especially luxury ones, provide an incredible number of enrichment opportunities—through lectures, workshops, classical music and, of course, during historically and culturally-rich shore excursions. You can seize opportunities to enhance your language skills, and savor new foods both on the ship and ashore. Lovers of pop culture will get to listen to entertainers and see all the shows.
6- A chance to escape the winter
Snowbirds who want to escape inclement weather at home will find a respite in warm waters, although perhaps not on every continent. (See my previous post on the Oceania “Snowbirds in Residence” Program.) In essence, a long cruise takes the place of a vacation home or two.
7- Change of perspective
What a delight it must be to have time to sync to the rhythms of the ship and the sea, to leave the hassles and stresses of home behind, and to experience a “change of life” on board a very long cruise. In an article for Next Avenue, I wrote about the robust body of research and expert opinion suggesting that vacations are as essential to retirees as they are to working folk.
Granted, very long cruises aren’t for everyone but repeat cruisers and the rapidity with which these cruises sell out, suggest they offer a unique appeal to many. Not sure, try a long segment first!
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