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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

JOURNEY ROUND THE WORLD: Plane or Ship?

I've taken an around the world adventure at least ten times now, so, I must be a world authority.  You can view the details of my next journey, which will occur this Fall.  The cost for business class (plus all other expenses) will be a little more than $35,000.

However, I'm at the stage of my life where I should be using a cruise liner to make that global circle.  So let me compare the two options:  plane or ship.

Round the World (RTW) by air is dominated by three partnerships:

Alliance                          # of partners  airports  countries  fleet

One World (American)            15             1010        155         3428

Sky Team (Delta)                    20             1064        179         4400

Star Alliance (United)              27             1321        193        4456

My preferred link is with Star Alliance, on which I am now heading towards 3 million miles.  Some noteworthy exploits include:
  • PanAm was the only exception, which occurred in the 1980's.  My wife and I went west on Pan Am One, and it was a learning experience.
  • In 2012 I used mostly miles to fly to Japan for the cherry blossoms (plus an OTEC dinner), then on to Amsterdam for the tulips, ending in Las Vegas, when I went golfing on Kenji's Safari.  Well, not quite, for I then went back to Denver for an American Solar Energy Society gathering to participate in an OTEC panel.  Here is a summary.
  • My Ultimate Global Adventure occurred in the Spring of 2013 (MUGA 2013):  a $50K extravaganza in First Class with Michelin 3-Star and Pellegrino Best 50 restaurants.  At Matsumoto Castle a gold koi swallowed the capsule of Pearl's ashes, I suffered from choking air pollution in Beijing, went on another Kenji golf safari and barely survived two weeks of wine tasting in Napa, Sonoma and Alexander Valleys.  Here were my final thoughts.
  • My Ultimate Fantasy Adventure, in the Spring of 2014, might have actually been more enjoyable than MUGA 2013, and some day I might be able to say why.  Here is a comparison of the two.  However, MUFA 2014 was not global, only around the Pacific, the final leg being a Crystal Symphony cruise from Tokyo back to Honolulu.
Before I segue into the ocean, I should mention that just around the same day I leave on my next global adventure, Abercrombie and Kent (not to be confused with Abercrombie and Fitch) has a 24-day 2015 Wonders of the World by Private Jet for $108,000, limited to 50 really rich people.  If you can't go until next year, then the 2016 version includes 26 days, visits all new sites and will cost you $117,000.  The tours are led by founder Geoffrey Kent.  He is two years younger than me and plays polo.


Most world cruises are not global.  Crystal Cruise, for example, in 2016, will only circle the Pacific for $35K+.  However, they promise around the world cruises in 2018, the Crystal Symphony departing Cape Town on January 7 and Crystal Serenity leaving from Los Angeles on January 23.  Alas, not so, for the four "WORLD" cruises all DO NOT start and end in the same city by circumnavigating Planet Earth.  

Their 114 days from Cape Town to Miami (above), for example, will only tour the Indian Ocean, Oceania, western South America, a bit of the Caribbean and end up in Miami.  Not a particularly exciting itinerary, all from $50,000 to $300,000.  Their longest 129-day extravaganza (left) from $70K to $350K is even less so.  I've been to every city as shown to the left, except for Cape Town.  I am especially disappointed, for I usually cruise Crystal.  At least the drinks are free.

Silversea has a $59K (cheapest room), 114-day cruise that starts on 4January2016 from Fort Lauderdale, and ends on April 30 in Venice, which is more than 5,000 miles away from Florida. The most expensive cabin is four times more, plus there is a 175% singles supplement.  There is some mumbling about free Business Class air, but that needs to be negotiated.  Scratch Silverseas.

Oceania has an intriguing 180-day true world cruise, departing Miami on 4January2016 and returning on July 1, for $40,000, or an attractive $222/day.  Day 154 happens to be in Honolulu.  Mind you, the price does go up if you want a decent room, but if you are at an age where you can stop driving and not purchase that new Lexus or Tesla, something to consider.  And Silverseas also offers free alcohol throughout your stay.

Cunard is a venerable name evoking elegance, and their Queen Mary 2 makes the full circuit in 120 days, leaving Southampton on 10January2016 and returning on May 10.  Steerage costs $20K, but the recommendation is to pay $30K for a balcony cabin, or $250/day.  The Queen Elizabeth also touts a world cruise, but that ship only makes a semi-circle.

Holland America's Amsterdam also goes round the world, in 115 days, departing from Fort Lauderdale on 5January2016, and returning on April 30, passing through both the Suez and Panama Canals.  The lowest cost cabin is $20K, or $174/day.  A stay on the second floor of 15 Craigside averages about double that.  If I can somehow apply my $4000+ monthly bill from 15 Craigside towards this cruise, that would be nice.  Otherwise, the total cost would approach $36,000 for this period.

Princess Cruises has two 111-night RTW trips, one leaving from Fort Lauderdale on 3January2016 and the other from Los Angeles on 20January2016.  The cost is $20K or $180/day. Click here for itinerary.  Suites start at $37.5K.

Cruise Line gives the following ratings:

  #1    Crystal
  #8    Silverseas
  #9    Oceania
  #11  Holland America
  #12  Cunard
  #13  Princess
(worse are Celebrity, Viking and Norwegian)

U.S. News and World Report provides rankings depending on what you want with respect to impacting parameters.

Yes, if I survive my fall global adventure, should I take another round the world journey, it will be on a ship:
  • Little packing/unpacking.
  • Minimal airport/taxi stress.
  • My Fall trip will cost $538/day:  Oceania's odyssey would only be $222/day.

On other hand, my blood pressure significantly rose when I found myself at sea during my Fall 2014 Circle Pacific trip.  Exercising helped, and, perhaps, a bath. but my pressure dropped only after I landed in New Zealand.  Maybe it was the sodium or ethanol.  In any case, if a world cruise is in my future I will first need to take a shorter one to confirm the seriousness of this problem.

Another sensible option is to preserve my life by remaining in my 15 Craigside cocoon.  Frankly, I've seen everything I would want to experience, and travel is stressful.  Ah, but just one more adventure before it gets too late.

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