What could be better than taking 4 months off from the humdrum of home life and sail the world on board your very own floating hotel? Well not much really according to our 2017 Magellan Maiden Round the World Voyage passengers; There are tales of heavenly white Caribbean and French Polynesian beaches, adventures in the Great Barrier Reef, frenetic energy and bright lights in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the ancient cities of Luxor, Petra, Jerusalem and Athens.
So how do you prepare for 4 months of life at sea, what do you need to know, what do you pack, and how do you plan for a quarter of a year. Well here are our top tips:
1. Dollars; Barbadian, New Zealand, Australian, Hong Kong and Singapore
Stopping at over 40 overseas ports can be a bit of a headache when it comes to pre-ordering currency and trying to budget for a long trip. When you factor in foreign exchange buy-back charges, the logistics of working out how much cash is needed for each stop and storing cash within your cabin, it can soon become a logistical nightmare. Often it is easier to simply use a debit or credit card for purchases in your destinations or to take out cash from a local bank ATM.
Nowadays most debit card providers and banks offer a good/fair exchange rate for withdrawing abroad, and with most restaurants and shops accepting Visa cards it is a safe way of paying without advertising that you are carrying cash.
Be sure to inform your bank that you will be travelling on a world cruise before you set off so they do not block access to your card when they see spending in different countries.
2. Packing, oh packing
For most people, this will possibly be the most difficult aspect of a long trip. How do you pack for so many different climates? Most world cruises follow the warm weather and apart from the initial stops in Europe and the start and end where you should ensure you have your coat on hand, most round the world cruises head south to the end of summer in the southern hemisphere before travelling back towards spring in the northern hemisphere.
Also ensure you check requirements if visiting any religious sites whilst on the cruise, for most European places of worship trousers/skirts should cover the knee and tops should come down to the elbow. For Middle Eastern sites, Jerusalem and the UAE ladies may be required to cover their hair with a headscarf so remember to bring a conservatively coloured pashmina, also dress codes will be slightly stricter so ensure that you wear modest loose-fitting clothing which covers arms and legs fully. Gentleman will also be required, if visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem on an excursion, to wear a yarmulke/kippah to be placed on top of the head, these are given out for free so be sure to collect one.
It is always worth keeping in mind that ships do have laundrettes on board for use so keeping on top of the laundry shouldn’t be an issue.
3. An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Whilst in a perfect world a round the world cruise should be spent relaxing and enjoying every port of call you may sometimes find yourself feeling under the weather. Be sure to pack a basic medicine kit for your time on board, whilst the ships medical team are always available to help with any ailment, by packing essentials such as paracetamol, antihistamine, plasters, antiseptic wipes etc. you can help alleviate small ailments yourself from your own cabin.
Likewise for those passengers who have prescribed medicines be sure to get a repeat prescription from your Doctor or GP before you are due to depart and take a photocopy of it. That way if you require medication for any reason you have brands and dosage details on hand, just in case.
4. Choose your cabin wisely
While some passengers will view a cabin as just a place to store clothes and sleep other passengers will literally view a cabin as their haven for four months. For those who fall into the first category looking to take up an IG or OG cabin grade can actually be a wise move as then, regardless of the cabin you are allocated, you can save on the fares and use the savings on shore excursions or treats at your destinations.
Anyone else in the haven category the best idea would be to study your ships deck plan. Look to see what deck you are on, what position you would like to be on the ship (front, mid, rear) and then whether you would like a balcony or not gaining mornings and evenings enjoying some peace and quiet. For those who are sensitive to motion on board, it is advisable to pick a cabin which is in the middle of the ship in every aspect (deck and position) as these points are the most stable and should offer the least amount of movement.
5. Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink
Ok, maybe not that dramatic as all of our ships have self-service tea, coffee, juice and water stations located around the ship, however for those who like to enjoy a pre/post dinner drink without having to worry about the bill at the end of their cruise than an all-inclusive drinks package is for you. For a fixed price you can pick from wines, draught beer, soft drinks, cocktails and other alcoholic drinks from restaurants and bars* without having to worry about your bill.
Also be sure to bring a reusable to bottle with you as this can be filled and reused for port stops and any excursions, is environmentally friendly and saves purchasing water at each stop.
6. Life back home
While it can be easy to forget England’s cold and grey shores when you are sailing your way through Polynesian paradise it is always worth planning for a neighbour or friend to check in on your house from time to time. Whilst this may be an obvious point it is a long period of time to be away from your home and important letters and bills will sadly keep arriving in your absence.
It can help to create a guide for anyone looking after your house for any items that might arise such as meter readings, emergencies, etc. Some passengers do also look to have a house-sitter whilst they are away to ensure that someone is constantly in the property and can catch any issues as the arise leaving them with peace of mind that their house is well looked after while they are discovering the world.
7. Documentation – All the serious stuff
As with any trip abroad, it is exceedingly important to ensure that documentation is valid for each stop on the journey. Most countries outside the EU/Schengen Area do require that passports be valid for 6 months post the date you return back to the UK, also it is worth ensuring that you have plenty of blank, spare pages for visa stamps for each stop. And whilst it has been mentioned let us talk about visas, this can become quite a daunting task when you look at the number of countries which can be visited during an average world cruise.You can contact us and request a list of visa requirements for each country, some will be online and others may mean a trip to a consulate so always allow yourself plenty of time to organise these.
Whilst we’re on difficult subjects we can also talk about travel insurance. Nowadays it is exceedingly important to ensure that you not only purchase travel insurance, but you also ensure it covers you for round the world cruise duration, destinations, and any pre-existing medical conditions.
Be sure that the insurance covers your personal items as well as your personal well-being. Unfortunately, passengers without valid travel insurance may find that they will be unable to sail.
8. Vaccinations – give it your best shot
Most GP’s and doctor’s surgeries are able to quickly and efficiently check travel medical vaccinations nowadays for most worldwide destinations. Some surgeries require you to fill in a form which can be checked by a nurse later in the day who will advise necessary vaccinations and travel mediation, so by taking all the destination information with you, simply fill in the form and see what you need.
Be sure that your nurse or GP to give you a travel vaccinations passport to log each vaccination, when it was administered and how long it lasts for. By doing this it can actually save you time for any future trips and can actually assist with your travel insurance to show that you have adequately prepared for your trip.
9. Formal nights - Back to the fun stuff!
On average the round the world cruise offers one formal night every other week so on a world cruise that can allow for a minimum of 8 formal nights in total. For those who are unsure of what formal night dress code is, take a look here at our dress code blog post. Whilst it can seem prudent to pack 6-7 formal night outfits you may want to pick up a few items when you visit certain countries. Gentlemen’s suits are a definite highlight in countries such as Thailand and Ladies will be spoilt for choice in Hong Kong.
10. Shop until you drop
It’s inevitable, you go on holiday and you buy gifts. Whether these be for yourself or for someone else visiting over 40 destinations can result in a lot of purchases. Our first top tip is, bring a spare suitcase with you as then you don’t have to worry about how you will get all your new purchases home and they do not take up room in your existing luggage. A handful of destinations on a round the world cruise call at countries who are tax-free shopping destinations, Hong Kong, for example, is a shopper’s paradise and with prices cheaper than those in Europe for electrical goods it is definitely worth a look.
Looking for a cheap and easy gift for people? Why not send a postcard from each country? This is a relatively low cost gift and because you can post it from each port you won’t even need to pack it!
11. Are we there yet?
Whilst stopping at over 40 destinations is enough to keep most people entertained and busy, long days at sea can sometimes leave even the sturdiest of seafarers desperate for distraction. Be sure to check on your daily schedule as normally during sea days extra activities and crafting lectures will be put on so you can take part in learning activities. Whether you are in the kindle/e-reader or the paperback camp there are plenty of ways to enjoy some peaceful downtime during seas days.
If you are in the paperback camp it is always a good idea to see if you can set up a book swap with passengers so you can enjoy reading, not have to worry about running out of literature or having to get it all on board and can also meet likeminded passengers. Likewise most of our ships do have a well-stocked library which you can take advantage of and enjoy a peaceful afternoon.
12. Worried about cabin fever?
If all this sounds a bit too much for you then why not look at world cruise sector. These mini (and I use these term ‘mini’ loosely) sectors of a world cruise allow you to visit some of the most beautiful places on earth, allow you to state that you have indeed been on a world cruise but mean you don’t have to commit to 4 months’ worth of sailing. Most sectors are broken down into southbound or northbound sectors. With most of these you are given an air credit against the cruise cost which you can use to book the flight leg you need. Sectors can range anywhere from 8-88 nights so really can cater for any type of taste or budget.