Tough Choice: Around the World Again or Pole to Pole in 2025?

Day 107, Grand World Voyage

Thursday, April 20, 2023; At Sea, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean.

I’m facing a dilemma — which Grand World cruise to pick for 2025. Yesterday Holland America’s president, Gus Antorcha, followed tradition and first announced the 2025 World Cruise itinerary to the passengers on board the current world voyage on the Zuiderdam.

For the first time, the company will offer two choices. The more traditional Grand World Voyage will sail west around the globe for 124 days, visiting 46 ports in 32 countries on six continents.

As rumored, there will be a second option – not technically a world voyage as it doesn’t circle the globe, but a 133-day Pole-to-Pole Grand Voyage, visiting 68 ports in 28 countries on five continents.

I put a small deposit on the undefined 2025 cruise a couple of months ago, and now I need to decide which one. It’s not an easy choice. I will have visited almost all the ports on both cruises by 2025.

On the traditional world voyage, 55 percent of the days will be sea days (68 sea days and 56 port days), and people know I love my sea days. It will go to some of my favorite places – including Easter Island; Brisbane, Australia; Cape Town, South Africa; Safága, Egypt; and Barcelona. The Seychelles still is on my bucket list after we missed that stop in 2020.

The pole-to-pole grand voyage has the appeal of breaking the mold and nearly going around the world in a non-traditional direction of south to north. I’m disappointed it doesn’t go to Svalbard, Norway, in the polar ice cap. That seems a natural. There will be far fewer time zone changes. But just 43 percent of the pole to pole will be sea days (57 days at sea and 76 in ports). When would I ever be able to catch up on my blog and sketches?

One fun feature is that both ships will be in Barcelona for an overnight stop at the same time, with plans for a big party ashore. Details to come.

I’m beginning to realize that by spending so much time on Holland America’s longer cruises, I am running out of new places to visit. This fall I’m cruising on a Grand South America/Antarctica cruise, which pretty much matches the first half of the pole-to-pole cruise.

For example, I’ll sail up the Amazon this December, then again only a month later in January on the 2024 world cruise, so the pole-to-pole would make the third Amazon voyage in just over a year.

Between this cruise and my upcoming summer cruises, I will have visited most of the ports in the second half of the pole-to-pole. I don’t see anything new there to visit.

2023 Grand World Voyage, above, and Summer 2023, below

Beyond the itinerary is the fact that my many friends from long Holland America cruises will split between the two choices. There is a lot of discussion onboard these days about who thinks they will do which. Eloise thinks she may pass on 2025; Elaine hasn’t decided which yet, either.

I’m not complaining about facing this choice; I’m fortunate to be able to choose at all. And I need to seriously consider other options, such as other cruise lines and overland travel. The good news is that at this point my only commitment will be a fully refundable deposit.

Feel free to comment with your opinion or points I haven’t yet considered.