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Last January I was invited by Cunard Cruise Line to sail aboard the Queen Elizabeth from Acapulco, Mexico to Los Angeles. As it was the dead of winter and I was in Wisconsin, it sounded like a great deal.
I’m not a big cruise guy. I had only taken one previous cruise and that had been more than a year ago. What my previous cruise experience taught me is that even though I’m probably not the prime target audience for a cruise, I didn’t dislike cruising. I came in assuming it would be nothing but buffets and fat, drunk people. I came away having had some very high quality meals and didn’t see anything of the party atmosphere I had expected.
So when the opportunity came again to sail aboard the Queen Elizabeth, I said yes. I figured it would be an interesting five days.
I knew that Cunard was a high end cruise line whose legacy extends back to the golden age of transatlantic voyages. What I wasn’t aware of before I got on board the ship was:
- This was the maiden voyage of the Queen Elizabeth.
- They were less than one month into a 108 day around the world cruise.
This really piqued my interest because I had never really paid any attention to long term cruising. I had always just assumed that cruise ships just did voyages around a week in length. A 108 day circumnavigation of the globe was another thing entirely. Having been around the world a few times myself, I became interested in the idea of doing it on a ship.
Just to give you an idea, here is the itinerary of the trip:
That is a whole lot to cram into a little over three months!
A few observations about doing an around the world voyage like this:
- It isn’t cheap, but it can be more affordable than you might think. The cheapest ticket I found for the Queen Elizabeth’s around the world trip was $19,995. That is a lot of money, but when you factor it over 108 days, it averages out to around $185/day which includes your room, transportation around the world and all your meals on the ship. I’m not sure it is possible to visit that many places at the same level of luxury if you did it on your own. Also, most of the people on board were not doing the entire trip. They would only do a segment. I believe around 800 people out of 2,000 on the ship were doing the full tour. Prices on other cruise lines for similar trips range from $14,292 to a whopping $279,895. Prices do not include drinks on board the ship nor does it include expenses incurred while in port. While you can find lower cost trips, this probably isn’t something you want to do if you are a budget traveler.
- Most of the passengers were rather old. The average age of the ship’s passengers was well into the 60’s. This really isn’t surprising. If you are retired and still have a knack for adventure, and especially if you have saved some money, then this might be the best option for you to see the world. I met several people who were well into their 80’s who were doing the entire trip. Cruises tend to attract an older demographic and for a luxury line like Cunard, it is especially true.
- You have to trade quantity for quality. Taking a trip like this will let you see many of the great cities of the world in a rather short period of time. However, you will only get to spend a few hours in each city or have one shore excursion. That is the tradeoff of all cruise ships. If you don’t have an entire year to spend traveling around the world or can’t easily travel for physical reasons, this might very well be a sacrifice worth making.
I will not recommend taking a trip around the world by cruise ship for everyone, but it is at least something I’d consider depending on your position. If you have the money and/or have difficulty traveling, then this might be a good option for seeing the world. It is a type of travel which is primarily targeted to older people. I could totally see myself doing this if I was 80 years old and had difficulty getting around.