Many of us dream about packing it all in to head off a globetrotting adventure but frankly, the backpacking lifestyle isn’t for everyone.
But forget grimy hostels, questionable street food and overnight bus journeys - imagine seeing the world from a luxury cruise ship on a one-of-a-kind “gap year”.
The Ultimate World Cruise, run by cruise line Viking, promises just that. On 31 August 2019, up to 930 guests will board the Viking Sun at Port London Greenwich for an epic odyssey lasting the better part of a year.
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Clocking in at 245 days, the Ultimate World Cruise is the longest continuous cruise trip in modern sailing history, and almost twice as long as Viking’s previous “around the world” cruises.
The eight-month voyage takes in 113 ports in 59 countries, with stops in every continent except Antarctica.
After departing from the historic London docks, the Viking Sun will head to Scotland and Scandinavia, before setting sail for Canada.
The voyage continues southwards, exploring the Caribbean and Latin America. Following a stop-off in Ushuaia, Argentina - the southernmost city on Earth - the ship rounds Cape Horn and heads towards Los Angeles.
From there, the Viking Sun embarks on its longest stretch of uninterrupted sailing, with six days in the Pacific Ocean, before reaching the incomparable vistas of French Polynesia, and beyond them, Australia and New Zealand.
The return leg is via Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, taking in the tropical splendour of the Andaman Sea, the bustling streets of Mumbai and the Valley of the Kings, along with dozens more sites.
After a final stretch through Europe, with scenic detours in Porto and the Moorish glory of Grenada, the white cliffs of Dover will heave into view once more on day 243. The Channel port will be the ship’s final destination before it docks for the final time at Greenwich, eight months after it left.
As for life on board, there is little danger of cabin fever in the Viking Sun’s spacious 465 staterooms, which start at 270sq ft and come with a balcony as standard.
The cruise line’s fleet may travel all around the world, but Viking proudly wears its Nordic roots. Guests can expect stripped-back Scandinavian decor, a Norwegian-style deli and a spa with a snow grotto.
Meanwhile, the ship’s dining options offer another culinary voyage, featuring everything from afternoon tea to sushi, along with multicourse tasting menus.
As well as cultural excursions in every port, there will be on-board entertainment from local traditional performers, and regional cooking classes in the ship’s kitchens.
The cruise will also host guest lecturers, who will offer insights into the history, politics, geography and culture of each region.
Viking chairman Torstein Hagen says this packed itinerary is part of the company’s campaign to offer clients “the thinking person’s cruise”.
“For more than 20 years we have been offering guests the most culturally immersive journeys available in the industry,” he said in a statement.
“Our World Cruises offer guests the rare opportunity to unpack once and explore dozens of the best destinations on Earth – at a value that is unprecedented in the travel industry.”
Pricing for the Viking Ultimate World Cruise starts at £66,990 per person.
Guests can also opt to join the cruise for the inbound or outbound leg only. The Viking World Treasures option (London to Los Angeles) starts at £34,590 per person, while the Viking World Wonders options (Los Angeles to Greenwich) is from £32,900 per person.
All prices include food and drink, excursions and business class international flights, along with transfers to and from the ship.
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