11 Around-The-World Cruises For An Epic Getaway

"Sailing around the world" sounds so romantic, doesn't it? You're sailing to remote islands with like-minded people while chasing sunsets on a distant horizon. Sure, you can just board a plane to, say, New Zealand, but there's something so pure and patient about maritime journeys. Cruises are like floating resorts, which ease their way over the waves. It's the definition of "slow travel." 

Amazingly, in the modern world of jet-setting travel, round-the-world cruises do exist. Voyagers visit dozens of ports over the course of their odyssey, each with its own landscape, climate, and personality. There are lots of ways travelers can experience "the trip of a lifetime," but this kind of circumnavigation outmatches just about all of them — and in style. However, there are a few things to consider before investigating such cruises. First, what does it actually mean to sail "around the world?"

Many companies use this phrase — and sail thousands of nautical miles — but only around a single ocean or hemisphere. Even when ships do sail a distance equivalent to the equator (or more), they rarely return to their precise port of origin. Also, these epic cruise vacations can be pricey; the kind of dream that merits cashing in a 401K, and the time commitment is also substantial, meaning months on the water. But for diehard cruisers, crisscrossing the planet could easily be worth the time and money, and if this sounds like you, these 11 cruise lines are scheduled to sail around the world.

Viking: World Cruise

For 138 days, passengers frog-hop through the Caribbean, pass through the Panama Canal, make their way to the islands of Polynesia, and skirt Australia, Asia, and Europe before finally dropping their anchor in London. On Viking's World Cruise, you can step ashore in 28 different nations and pick from 57 guided tours. Viking has been a prolific, respected cruise line since its founding in 1997, and this three-quarter circumnavigation sets sail in December 2024, so there's still time to book.

Ships are equipped with spas, luxury dining options, and cabin beds that can be separated or combined, among many other touches. Long before stepping aboard, the Viking website has a virtual 360-degree tour, acquainting future travelers with the ship's staterooms. Viking has thoughtfully put together a reading list to help travelers get a deeper understanding of the countries they will visit, which is especially helpful in little-understood destinations like Moorea and Indonesia. The ship also has a sizable library onboard for further research. This, plus its sophisticated tours and dining options that reflect the culture of each port, may explain Viking's moniker, "the thinking person's cruise." Quality does come at a price, with full passage starting at $59,995.

Ambassador: Grand Round the World Cruise

The Ambiance sets off from London, crosses the Atlantic, passes through Panama, and hits Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America before pinging back to the United Kingdom. Not only do you cross all the major oceans, but you actually cross the Atlantic three times. Most of these destinations are warm-weather ports, including Sydney at the height of summer. Sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats are recommended on this largely equatorial route.

Ambassador is new to the cruise scene, having been established in the United Kingdom in 2021, and Ambiance is its flagship vessel. Passengers will spend their 120-night voyage in extreme comfort, traveling to 24 countries and 34 ports of call, with top-notch dining, live entertainment, and about 35,000 nautical miles in between. If you can live without a porthole, opting for an inside cabin on the cruise, then passage starts at the budget-friendly price of $8,500 per person, making this Ambassador cruise one of the most economical on this list. You can also add on drink packages and arrange tours in advance or onboard through an agent or the Ambassador app. You can also explore the ship before you travel, thanks to a 360-degree virtual tour. The 2024 voyage sets sail on June 6.

Regent: World Cruise

The 2026 Regent World Cruise starts in Miami and ends in Miami, which makes it convenient to coordinate, especially if you're already based in the United States. Regent Seven Seas Cruises was founded in 1992 and is a respected brand in the industry.

The ship, the Seven Seas Mariner, also lives up to its name with a formidable 154-night itinerary: the Panama Canal, points along Central America, a dozen Pacific islands, Australia, South Asia, East Africa, and two Atlantic islands before returning to Florida. The Mariner arrives in many well-trod ports like Cape Town and Acapulco, but the route also includes locations that most travelers would have trouble pinpointing on a map: Lautoka, Abidjan, and Male are all names cruisers will become familiar with. To really explore these places, Regent organizes a whopping 431 free shore excursions across six continents, 77 ports, and 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Sailing nearly 40,000 nautical miles with world-class spas, dining, and entertainment aboard doesn't come cheap. While you'll need to contact Regent to request specific prices, passengers can expect to pay nearly $100,000 for passage. Regent's World Cruise is considered a luxury-level experience with first-class airfare, gratuities, and 24-hour room service included. If this is your tax bracket, just wait until you see the suites.

Royal Caribbean: Ultimate World Cruise

Royal Caribbean has been taking tourists to far-flung destinations since the late 1960s, and it's now one of the most recognizable cruise companies in the world, so naturally Royal Caribbean would host a round-the-world voyage. But even for seasoned travelers, the Ultimate World Cruise is pretty, well, ultimate. Royal Caribbean's world cruise lasts 274 nights and arrives in no fewer than 60 countries. In other words, you'll spend nine months at sea and personally visit more than a quarter of the sovereign nations on Earth. The saga starts and ends in Miami, where the Royal Caribbean is headquartered, which should make arrangements easy.

The biggest bragging right of all: This cruise touches on every single continent, including Elephant Island and Paradise Bay in Antarctica. You'll find yourself in both Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia, plus ports you've never even heard of. That said, unless your soul is fueled by pure wanderlust, this itinerary may sound like a lot of cruising, which may explain why Royal Caribbean has divided the journey into four segments. Cruisers don't have to commit to the entire itinerary; they can easily pick from the quarter that most interests them. 

By the time you read this, a segment may be the only option left, as the next Ultimate World Cruise departs in December of 2023. The segments are significantly more affordable as well. An interior stateroom for the full cruise costs at least $60,000 per person, while a segment starts at $12,500.

Cunard: Full World Voyage

When the Queen Mary 2 departs from New York City on January 3, 2024, it won't return to this same harbor for 123 nights. The itinerary isn't exactly "around the world," but rather a crossing of the Eastern Hemisphere — twice. Passengers traverse the Atlantic to the United Kingdom, then ease their way down the eastern coast of Africa before beelining for Australia. The ship boomerangs back, with many stops in Asia, a shortcut through the Suez Canal, and a tour of the Mediterranean before heading back to the U.S.

The voyage comes at the heels of Cunard's 100th anniversary, making it the second-oldest company on the list. The Queen Mary 2 has been Cunard's flagship vessel since 2004, and the company has mastered hospitality over the past century, with exceptional dining, luxury suites, and Broadway-quality performances by the Royal Court Theatre. Cunard also takes pride in its children's facilities, encouraging families to travel together, as well as the great English tradition of afternoon tea. Most of the budget cabins on the Queen Mary 2 were already booked at the time of this writing, but cabins with balconies are still available, starting at the not-ludicrous price of $16,899 per person. 

Oceania: Around the World in 180 Days

When Junes Verne wrote his novel "Around the World in Eighty Days," his Victorian goal was to travel as quickly as possible. Oceania is now advertising the opposite: This journey takes passengers the long way from Los Angeles to New York City, across the Pacific, around Australia, along the coasts of East Asia, and then up through the Middle East, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and even Greenland. The itinerary doesn't spend much time in the "global south," so you'll have to visit Africa and South America another time.

The Miami-based Oceania was founded in 2002 and specializes in long-haul cruises, so they know their system well. This cruise may be especially appealing to foodies. The company takes particular pride in its onboard meals as well as in-country Culinary Discovery Tours. Passengers can also take advantage of The Aquamar Spa & Vitality Center, which can orchestrate a special dietary regimen.

Oceania exudes "small-ship luxury" and caps its total number of passengers at 1,250. Everything about the ship is more intimate than found on its larger cousins, from the live entertainment to the duty-free boutiques. If you like a small-town feel, 180 days should be just enough time to meet all your shipmates. If you can't summon the time or (at least) $47,599 by January 2024, the next ship departs in January 2025.

Princess: 111-Day World Cruise

This Princess cruise is another true circumnavigation, starting in Los Angeles and bearing west until the ship arrives back at its original dock. The 111-day cruise starts on January 18, 2024, and includes all three major oceans, both the Suez and Panama Canals, plus 47 ports along the way. The itinerary is light on Asian and African ports and skips South America altogether, but you can still enjoy visits to Australia, the Middle East, and numerous destinations around Europe.

Princess is a hallowed name in the cruise industry. Not only have its ships been sailing the world since the 1960s, but Princess is still one of the most profitable cruise companies in the world. Passengers can expect onboard enrichment programs, award-winning live performances, and rejuvenating treatments at the Lotus Spa. Each port will also bring its own offerings of special excursions, from river rafting to art tours. 

With its dependable quality of service and nearly four-month itinerary, it's remarkable that base bookings start at only $15,498. Better yet, if you want to circle the globe with the whole family, this Princess itinerary is a family-friendly cruise and offers youth programming, which is not always the case. If you miss this one, no worries. Three more, of varying lengths, are slated for January 2025.

Holland America Line: Grand World Voyage

Fort Lauderdale is the beginning and end point for the Zuiderdam, which spends 128 days making a complete circle around the globe. Holland America's Grand World Voyage is true to its name. Passengers travel across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, making port on five continents. Most of its destinations are clustered around Asia and the Mediterranean, and it skips over Australia. But the Voyage is a rare opportunity to sail up the Amazon River, with visits to inland Brazilian cities most travelers would never think to visit.

Holland America began as a shipping and passenger line in the mid-19th Century, and its history of cruising is nearly as old as the concept. The flagship Zuiderdam is a luxury vessel with a swimming pool and sizable theater. It also boasts several diverse dining areas, including the Pinnacle Grill steakhouse, the Italian-themed Canaletto, and the à la carte Lido Market. There's Billboard Onboard, a special room for trivia nights and karaoke, as well as World Stage, a presentation space with a wraparound LED screen. Bookings start at the more expensive rate of $22,499 for an inside cabin, and the 2024 voyage will set sail on January 3, 2024, but you can expect additional Grand World Voyages to be slated in the coming years.

Azamara: World Voyage

Formerly part of the Royal Caribbean fleet, Azamara is now an independent company taking its own journeys. The 2025 World Voyage begins in San Diego and sails westward, across the Pacific, to Australia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, before passengers disembark in Barcelona. The World Voyage doesn't quite girdle the globe, stopping just short of the Atlantic Ocean, and the only stop in Africa is Giza. But this 155-night expedition should satisfy almost any traveler, especially with its 40 countries and 22 overnights.

Unlike many world cruises, Azamara has divided its full itinerary into segments with clear geographic themes, such as "South Pacific Jewels" and "Mediterranean Icons." These titles can help turn experiences into coherent narratives. For example, "Ancient Pathways" draws a historic and economic line between Mumbai and Athens, along with all ports in between. These themes are coupled with thoughtful excursions, which are often scheduled around local holidays and festivals. The World Voyage for 2024 appears to be sold out, but the 2025 edition sets sail on January 5. Passage starts at a princely $39,999.

Freighter Cruises

Some of us want to keep it simple. No need for late-night show-stoppers, cocktail parties with hundreds of strangers, or daring bets at the roulette wheel. "Freighter cruises" have gone by many names over the years, such as "banana boats" and "cargo cruises," but passengers have hitched rides on commercial ships since the dawn of seafaring. These accommodations come in many forms, and you do have to share your vessel with stacks of massive shipping containers; still, you can expect a comfortable cabin and regular meals, along with friendly and respectful crewmembers from around the world. For travelers with a Jack London streak, the freighter cruise feels raw and adventurous.

The Freighter Travel Club was founded in 1958, and companies like Maris Freighter Cruises and Voyage en Cargo have booked passengers on commercial vessels for years. Maris has arranged round-the-world itineraries in the past, and multi-week journeys are common, as enormous loads are floated from one nation to the next. The pandemic took its toll on this niche industry, and most of these journeys do not precisely travel around the world. But when they're in operation, freighter cruises usually cost a little over $100 per day, and savvy travelers have flexibility in their bookings.

Miray Cruises: Life at Sea

Sure, cruising is fun, but what if you want to turn your ship into a semi-permanent address? Life at Sea Cruises promises three years of luxury seafaring, with stops in 140 countries across all seven continents. By the time you're done with these 382 ports, you'll have more photos to sort through and stories to share than most people will amass in a lifetime.

That sounds life-changing, but we'll have to see whether it's too good to be true. Life at Sea is a brand-new enterprise from Miray Cruises, and the maiden voyage has been fraught with delays. However, at the time of this writing, Life at Sea should get underway by the end of 2023, and most full-voyage passengers should already be sailing by 2024. If all goes well, there are four scheduled embarkation options for travelers who want to hop aboard later on, and more will likely be scheduled.

One of the problems has been the ship itself. For a while, the purchase of the ship was in limbo, pushing back the original sail date. However, the MV Lara now seems ready to sail. The medium-sized vessel has space for 1,266 passengers, with a range of cozy cabins, a wellness center, and a pool deck, among many other amenities. Travelers committed to living at sea for three years should get a lot out of their floating home. Life at Sea is a dreamy concept, so let's hope for calm waters once it finally sets sail.