CHARLOTTE, NC: At the dawn of 2020, Silversea Cruises will embark on one of the most ambitious world cruises in history when it will become the first passenger shipping line to visit all seven continents.
Along the way, Silversea Whisper, which will undergo major renovations for the journey that will dock in 62 ports in 32 countries in 140 days. With the starting fare at $62,000 and rising to a quarter of a million dollars for the best rooms on the ship, the “Legends of Cruising” itinerary will be among the most luxurious adventures of its kind.
Last week we reviewed the first four segments of the cruise (segments are not as yet being sold, leaving five legs to highlight for modern-day Magellans seeking to circumnavigate the planet.
We begin with Stage Five in Sydney, Australia bound for Singapore.
Sydney Harbor with its world famous white shelled Opera House is always abuzz with the activity where thousands of yachts glide silently over deep blue waters. Blessed with dazzling beaches, a sunny climate, and friendly people, Sydney is a great place to embark on a sea-going adventure.
Bali, the only non-Muslim island in Indonesia, is a great place to “eat, pray and love” amid a myriad of pristine beaches, terraced rice fields and gorgeous dive sites. There are seemingly more temples than people filled with traditional dancing, rituals and local crafts. It’s more than enough to give you a “Bali High.”
Not far away is Java and the ancient city of Semarang, one of Indonesia’s oldest towns. In 1677, it became the headquarters and the seat of the Dutch governor of the northeast provinces. Semarang’s usefulness as a port waned due to the gradual silting up of the harbor and, by the 19th century, Surabaya had eclipsed Semarang as Java’s premier port.
Shaped like a flattened diamond, Singapore is just 26 miles east to west and 14 miles from north to south. Near the northern peak is the causeway leading to West Malaysia—Kuala Lumpur is less than four hours away by car.
At the southern foot of Singapore is where you’ll find most of the city-state’s action with its futuristic solar-powered “supertrees,” that serve as vertical gardens.
Journey to Mumbai
Segment Six of this deluxe sailing travels from Singapore to Mumbai, India with visits to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Cochin, India among other ports of call.
Phuket is one of the region’s economic powerhouse with more than 6 million annual visitors. If you’ve never been to Phuket, you will likely love it, however returning visitors are discovering a new island that eagerly greets the next wave of tourism.
Koh Phuket is linked to the mainland by a causeway, and the rest of the world by an international airport.
Sri Lanka’s capital and largest city, Colombo is a microcosm of the island nation with fine restaurants, lively nightlife, good museums, and beautiful Buddhist temples. The beach resort of Mt. Lavinia is only a short taxi ride from downtown and offers a golden, sandy beach with breathtaking sunsets.
By the way, there’s no need to look for a little detective with a slovenly raincoat, this Colombo has an identity all its own.
If you’re a “people person” India is the place for you. Until 1995, it was known as Bomba. However it is Mumbai that encapsulates the dynamic, chaotic parts that make up modern India.
Here you’ll find everything from succulent street food to haute cuisine, bargain-basement bazaars to the finest haute couture, humbling poverty to staggering wealth, sacred temples to hedonist nightclubs and, of course, people, people, and more people.
Mumbai is India—vibrant, hectic, frustrating, enervating, and exhilarating. It is a city of extremes, described perfectly by the title of the popular film Slumdog Millionaire.
On to Civitavecchia, Rome
Segment Seven of Silversea Whisper’s elegant world cruise is transitional as the ship begins to sail into more familiar destinations en route to the Civitavecchia, better known to most of us as Rome.
On the way, the lush landscape around Salalah is the intriguing result of a quirk of nature that is uniquely situated in the path of the Khareef or South Western Monsoon. Covered in fine mist this portion of the Dhofar Coast receives frequent rain from mid-June through mid-September.
When the monsoons cease, the entire coastline is a verdant stretch of waterfalls, rolling grasslands, and thickly wooded wadis (riverbeds) thriving beside rapid mountain streams.
Aqaba on the Red Sea
Today, Aqaba is a resort town on the Red Sea, but in the movie Lawrence of Arabia it was a strategic military location in Jordan. Over time it has built a reputation for being one of the best sites for snorkeling in the world.
Travelers doing the entire cruise will also transit the Suez and the Panama Canals.
The Suez Canal opened under French Control on 17 November 1869, establishing a gateway from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea that enhanced the colonization of Africa for the next 50 years as well as facilitating World Commerce.
The medieval cliff-hanging town of Taormina in Sicily has a natural beauty that is difficult to dispute. The views of the sea and nearby active volcano, Mt. Etna, are panoramic perfection. Writers including Goethe and D.H. Lawrence have extolled Taormina’s beauty almost since it was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC.
This leg ends in Rome before embarking on Segment Eight on the way to Dublin, Ireland.
One way or another Barcelona’s infinite variety of street life with its nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, its music and food will find a way to grab your attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with a beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafés and markets and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches.
Rome isn’t the only European city with seven hills, Lisbon, Portugal lays claim to the same number. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates to Moorish times are lined with pastel-colored houses decked with laundry.
Here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views while grand 18th-century black-and-white mosaic cobblestone sidewalks border wide boulevards.
The grand seven continent adventure concludes by sailing from Dublin to Amsterdam with a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since hostilities have ceased in the north, this part of the island has witnessed rapid popularity for tourists.
With the Titanic Museum, Giant’s Causeway and world-renowned linens, Belfast has become a major player on the world stage of wanderlust. Quaint pastel wood houses, a historic wharf, winding cobblestone streets, and Hanseatic relics, many visitors fall in love with Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city.
It doesn’t hurt that Bergen is the gateway to Norway’s majestic fjords either.
In addition, one of the most scenic train routes in Europe, the Flåm Railway, chugs high into the mountains in this region between the towns of Myrdal and Flåm.
Yet another seven hill city is Edinburgh, Scotland for which Charlotte Bronte once wrote, “Edinburgh is to London as poetry is to prose.” Edinburgh is one of the world’s stateliest cities and proudest capitals, making it a striking backdrop for the ancient pageant of history which exists in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle as it peers down upon Prince’s Street and the famed Royal Mile.
The final port of call is Amsterdam with its 17th-century Golden Age city center and remarkably laid-back atmosphere. Built on a latticework of concentric canals like an aquatic rainbow, Amsterdam, like Venice, is also known as the City of Canal. Amsterdam however, is content to live within its own moonlight serenades and its former glory.
There you have it, 140 days to every continent on the globe.
Time to start saving your money. There’s still more than a year before you sail. Bon Voyage!
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up