Do you like cruises? We mean, really like cruises, in the sense that you find your average eight-day jaunt around the lesser Caribbean to be too short, with too many of those annoying stops along the way, and not enough broad expanses of ocean with nothing on the horizon but horizon?
We have just what you need: Long-form cruises.
Long-form cruises are cruises of two weeks or more, usually on ships that are less like top-heavy floating hotels and more like true oceangoing vessels. These cruises are very often point-to-point, meaning that you start at one destination and finish in another, with the start and finish quite often far removed from one another.
Of course, if you like top-heavy floating hotels and round-the-block itineraries and just want more of that experience in one big, long package, you can get that, too. But some of the most interesting floating vacations, and some of the ones that best capture the bygone elegance of transoceanic travel, can be found in long-form cruises.
The drawbacks to these cruises are fairly obvious. They can cost a lot, both in terms of money and time commitment. Expect to burn up a huge chunk of your travel budget and vacation time going on a long-form cruise. There are also often additional travel expenses associated with these cruises. While a cruise line may be willing to fly you from Chicago to Miami as part of an all-inclusive fare, it’s generally not going to fly you to Sydney to start a Hawaii-to-Sydney cruise, or back from Rio after a Miami-to-Rio escapade.
Departure dates are also fewer, since the ships’ rotations are naturally longer; even 21-day round trips mean only one sailing per month, if that – and fewer ships ply these routes. The combination of the limited dates and long flights to or from faraway places can add significant cost to your trip, so just be aware. On the flip side, if you add a little cushion to your trip you can get a cheaper airfare and spend a few more days in Sydney or Rio (never forget AirfareWatchdog), and there’s not a whole lot of downside in that.
The other flip side to consider is that once you’re on the boat, the cost per night is about what you’d pay for a night at the Sioux Falls Motel 6. And the people you meet on long-form cruises are the sorts of people you go on cruises to meet.
All of which is a long preamble to some of our favorite long-form cruises that are departing soon (and go much better with an order of ExactCare). Without any further ado, they are:
Fort Lauderdale to Rio on Princess, 18 nights, departs Jan. 31: Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and Brazil on top of everything. Highly affordable and not too long, this is a perfect first long-form cruise for the Caribbean lover looking to see Brazil in the bargain. If 18 nights isn’t not long enough for you, you can extend it three nights and continue on to Buenos Aires.
Miami to Los Angeles on Norwegian, 16 nights, departs April 16: If you can shift that winter getaway into early spring, this is one for you. Cartagena, Costa Rica, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, and more, plus a jaunt through the Panama Canal and easy travel connections on either end. All things considered, this may be just about the most inexpensive long-form cruise you can take.
Los Angeles to Sydney on Cunard, 21 nights, departs Feb. 17: It’s a long haul, with 12 nights at sea, and expect it to be teeming with retirees, but retirees aren’t bad once you get to know them, and, hey, it’s Australia, with stops in Samoa and Fiji, and it’s Cunard, so you know it’s going to be done to the highest standard.
Sydney to Honolulu on Celebrity, 17 nights, sailing April 3: Yes, we are listing two South Pacific cruises back-to-back, but this just seems to us to be the best way to get some Australia, some French Polynesia, some Hawaii, and a whole lot of cruise ship, all for the per-night price of a three-and-a-half-star hotel.
Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome) on Holland America, 31 nights, departs April 5: There are long-form cruises, and then there are seriously long-form cruises. On the other hand, if you want to see as many places in the Mediterranean as possible, plus Barcelona and Israel, this is the one for you. It goes everywhere, it keeps the days at sea to a minimum, and the cost per day is super-reasonable (the tradeoff being that there are a whole lot of days).
If none of these float you boat, so to speak, wait until summer, when the transatlantic cruise season kicks into gear. We’re talking elegance now. And water. Lots and lots of water.