There may be no better prize for the obsessive traveller than being
able to say, “I’ve been around the world.” Some explorers keep a country
count as they travel over the years; others have a world map on display
at home — a constellation of red pins exhibiting their travels. Those
on a mission to see as many of our planet’s 195 countries as possible
may even go so far as to trade their house for a ship, setting sail on a
It’s a bold move, and not one that too many people can commit to. In
order to better understand this niche market, we spoke with cruise
specialists, as well as cruise lines that offer multicontinental tours
of varying lengths.
Following are their insights — a treasure trove of information for travel advisors curious about selling a world cruise.
What is a world cruise?
There is no hard and fast rule here, but most advisors agree that a
world cruise sails for 100 days or more, with many hovering around 140
days. The longest world cruise on offer today is a bit of an outlier at
274 nights — that’s the Ultimate World Cruise by Royal Caribbean
International, which sets sail this December and touches all seven
Advisor Kamika Dash is a Travel Leaders affiliate who loves
everything about cruising — she’s been on eight sailings in three years,
and will board sailings with Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise
Line in the next few months.
The self-described “cruise queen” says that while selling a full
world cruise is on her professional bucket list, she knows it may be a
while before she finds the right client.
Most people can’t afford to take off for more than 100 days for a cruise, says advisor Kamika Dash. Photo Credit: Kamika Dash
“I work in this field, and even I can’t take more than a week off to sail,” she said. “But I’m going to sell a world cruise.”
Marketing world cruise segments is one way that Dash casts a wider
net in her client base. Take the full 2024 World Cruise: Extraordinary
Horizons itinerary from Seabourn Cruise Line as an example. It sails for
145 days and touches 28 countries en route from Los Angeles to Athens.
Can’t sail for all 145 days? Segment options include a 73-day itinerary
between Taiwan and Athens; 56 days sailing between Shanghai and Athens;
and 50 days from Sydney to Shanghai.
Cruise expert Eric Goldring of Goldring Travel agrees that selling
segments is a solid strategy, but jests about what a segment means for a
client’s bragging rights.
Travel advisor Eric Goldring says that most people buy segments — or portions — of world cruises, rather than the entire sailing. Photo Credit: Eric Goldring
“If you’re on an 85-day segment, are you on a ‘world cruise’?” he
asked. “How about a 70-day segment? But these segments are how world
cruises sell. They’re not selling out with passengers on the full
Who’s right for a world cruise?
We know that Americans tend to take less than two weeks off per year
for vacation; given this, only a small sliver of the population can even
consider a world cruise — segmented or not.
“When you’re younger, you don’t have the money or the time,” Goldring
said. “Then, you may have money, but you don’t have time — there are
work constraints, kids. When you’re older, you have time and money. You
can look at extended cruises and world cruises.”
World cruise passengers skew older, often retirees or semi-retirees
ages 60 and up, but Goldring says there’s always the exception, such as a
tech magnate who sold their company at 45. And this could look
different in the near future — the industry expects to see a slight
uptick in the number of middle-age and younger passengers boarding
longer itineraries in the coming years, thanks to Starlink internet
connectivity, which will allow travelers to work as they sail. Goldring
packs his own laptop and a second monitor on any cruise, an
office-at-sea right there in his luggage.
Goldring also compared the environment of a world cruise to that of a
country club: one setting that you become very familiar with, and faces
you recognize around every turn. From the dining room and the pool to
the third hole on the golf course, there will likely be someone eager to
chat with you.
“Some people thrive on that,” he said. “Others are like, ‘Aw, man. Do I have to see Murray again?’”
This may be especially true on a small ship with less guest capacity.
Bob Bradley of The Pampered Cruiser, who works alongside his wife,
Sue, and is an independent affiliate of SmartFlyer, adds that making
sure clients know what to expect on a cruise is integral to selling such
a long voyage, and to the right client. The duo often fields inquiries
from folks who have not cruised all that much, which Bradley attributes
to the aspirational nature of a world cruise. When this happens, he
tells them to get on a ship — any ship — to see how they feel. Can they
imagine being in a cabin with their spouse that is significantly smaller
than the spaces they are accustomed to at home, for months? And how do
they feel about sea days?
Bob and Sue Bradley of SmartFlyer share that it’s important to gauge how comfortable clients are on longer voyages. Photo Credit: Bob and Sue Bradley
“There’s no fast way to get across the Pacific Ocean — it’s five days
to Hawaii, then you’ll spend a few days on land, then it’s another five
days to the next set of islands,” Bradley said. “For some, this is
great, but for others, it’s their idea of living hell. So, it’s a matter
of making them aware of what to expect on an extended voyage, so we can
determine if it’s a good fit.”
What is the cost of a world cruise?
Though we’ve already established that the length and cost of a full
world cruise limits who can book one, advisor Goldring says that
breaking down the cost of that voyage often gives clients a new value
We got out our calculators and crunched the numbers for Viking World
Voyage II; with a base cost of $74,995 for 163 days, that’s $460 per
day, which we noted is far less than one night at a luxury hotel. And
there are inclusions beyond the stateroom wrapped up in that price. On
Viking, for example, one shore excursion in every port of call and entry
to lectures and performances are part of the fare.
Princess Cruise Lines is sailing a 111-day world cruise onboard Island Princess, which costs about $200 per person, per day. Photo Credit: Princess Cruises
Cost-per-day can be even more reasonable on other cruise lines. John
Padgett, president of Princess Cruises, points to his company’s 111-day
World Cruise, which circumnavigates the globe with a passenger capacity
of 2,200 onboard Island Princess. A balcony stateroom starts at $22,198
per person, which breaks down to about $200 per day. And inclusions
still abound at this price point.
As an advisor, knowing inclusions front to back can only help sell these voyages.
Steve Smotrys, vice president of sales for Seabourn, notes that
Seabourn world cruise passengers kick off their trip in style with a
“Bon Voyage” gala, and attend one-of-a-kind events throughout their
cruise; on the Extraordinary Horizons world cruise, for example, the
entire ship disembarks for an “Evening at Ephesus” in Turkey.
Seabourn Sojourn is sailing a world cruise that includes a special kick-off gala. Photo Credit: Seabourn
“You’re in this ancient setting, it’s all lit up, and there’s a
classical musical performance by a live orchestra; this is an event
exclusive to Seabourn,” Smotrys said. “Opportunities like this showcase
how curated we are onboard, and that we can bring our style onshore.”
Smotrys reminds advisors that world cruise bookings with Seabourn
include other extras as well, including roundtrip airfare in business or
first class, private car transfers, a personal valet for your luggage,
shipboard credits and more — huge value-adds to highlight with
Is booking a world cruise worth it for a travel advisor?
Like a siren’s song to a sailor, a 10% commission on a $75,000 world
cruise sale sounds attractive. But advisors aren’t lured in so easily.
“When world cruises get announced, say 2-and-a-half years in advance,
we may mention that news in our client newsletter,” Bradley shared.
“But we don’t do a whole lot of marketing around world cruises — the
bread and butter of our business is shorter voyages.”
And those shorter cruises can be lucrative. Take a 17-day Aurora
Expeditions cruise in the Northwest Passage; this sailing begins at
about $19,500 per person. Book a family of four on this trip, with an
assumed 10% commission, and that’s a $7,800 advisor earning.
Even to that, Goldring says, “Don’t count your clients’ money.”
Instead, get to know their preferences, and make sure you and they
know all about the ship they would like to board and the brand they want
to sail with. Attend webinars, study deck plans, download brochures and
hunt down peer reviews — Goldring sails a ton, and he says he writes
five to eight stories about each sailing and puts them up on his blog.
“There is so much information out there,” he said. “Learn about
people’s perceptions and know what’s really included. Do not wing it.
Ultimately, the goal isn’t to sell them this one cruise, it’s to sell
them for life.”