When one hears the phrase “sea legs,” it typically means the ability to adjust one’s sense of balance to the motion of a ship. Those “sea legs” are great to have, of course, but equally good in my book are the “legs” (also called segments) of extended sailings such as world cruises and other grand voyages.
My husband Humberto and I have found there is an ocean of benefits to these segments, including calls at remote destinations, visiting more ports in a region, and offering more overnights and extended visits, (when a ship stays in port until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.). For example, on the 2019 Grand World Voyage of Holland America’s Amsterdam, one segment from Fort Lauderdale to Auckland visited Easter Island and Pitcairn Island. Another segment, from Auckland to Singapore, included four overnight or extended stays and four ports in Australia (overnight in Sydney and calls at Townsville, Cairns and Darwin), in addition to the Great Barrier Reef Experience with scenic cruising of the Torres Strait.
Overnights and extended stays provide opportunities to arrange for accommodations ashore independently or via organized ship’s tours. We have done on segments of various extended voyages on Holland America, including: bungalows at Tahiti InterContinental and Moorea InterContinental, at the Four Seasons Bora Bora, and for a suite at the Rambagh Palace Hotel — a Taj property that was formerly a royal palace in Jaipur, India, from where we went to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
During a segment of a Silversea World Cruise a few years ago, we overnighted at the Sonesta St. George Hotel in Luxor, Egypt to explore the ancient temples of Karnak, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. These experiences provide opportunities to sample the local cuisine, cultural sites and crafts as “one of the locals” for a couple of days.
Legs of grand voyages also feature port welcomes with folkloric groups putting on shows at the pier in such ports as Honolulu, Tahiti and Manila. Teams in Hawaii and French Polynesia put on shows and conduct ukulele lessons, dance classes and crafts sessions on Holland America’s Amsterdam’s World Cruise.
Distinguished lecturers and personalities also often put in appearances at these segments of grand voyages. Some of the ones we have had on ours have included noted Egyptologist and mummy expert Bob Brier, who presented excellent illustrated talks during our Silversea World Cruise segment to Egypt and the Holy Land, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who has come onboard on segments of two Holland America World Cruises. My husband Humberto and I were on one of those segments, where Archbishop Tutu gave a Q&A session and presided over an interdenominational service onboard along with the Soweto Gospel Choir.
And there is more; segments of extended voyages provide more entertainment and activities including headliners like singer Melissa Manchester and comedian Rita Rudner on Holland America as well as local entertainers who are brought on board to present shows. And special events abound such as “sail-away” parties with hot hors d’oeuvres and complimentary beverages.
Other highlights include festive dinners and balls when the dining room and showroom feature decorations, and guests dine on special menus and dance the night away. On Holland America’s Amsterdam’s World Cruise segments, balls include the Black & Silver Ball with the ship’s captain and other officers in attendance during the first segment of the World Cruise, the Valentines’ Day Ball on Feb. 14 and the Black & Gold Ball, typically during the last segment of the voyage.
Legs of extended sailings also feature another plus: a hand-picked staff who pamper you with meticulous service — from breakfasts or snacks in your veranda to seven-course gourmet dinners impeccably served. Cruise lines want their grand voyages to have the best of the best when it comes to staff and crew — many of them are particularly experienced personnel who are assigned to the World Cruise each year. We have sailed several years with Asep, a great dining room captain, and Ronald, maître d’ on the Amsterdam’s World Cruise, and when we see them, we know every detail will be taken care of exceedingly well.
But wait, there’s more! Segments of World Cruises and other grand voyages also feature commemorative gifts. These can be practical items like international electrical current converters, bags, journals and carry-on luggage emblazoned with the voyage’s logo. They can also be of a keepsake nature, like Delft china plates and platters sporting the cruise itinerary, Tiffany mugs with a round-the-world theme, Waterford picture frames and other items on Holland America.
So, what can I say? If Humberto and I are not able to take a full World Cruise or other Grand Voyage, we will certainly opt for a segment of those itineraries. So definitely, whenever possible, we will have these sea legs!
If a leg of a grand voyage appeals to you, check with Cruise Specialists as to what may be on tap this year on lines like Holland America, Crystal, Cunard and more.