If you've ever dreamed of taking a world cruise, consider this new—albeit unusual—option: Costa Atlantica's first world cruise departing Shanghai, China in March 2014. While the 83-day voyage is being marketed to Chinese travelers, the voyage would appeal to anyone who wants to see the four corners of the globe at an affordable price.
Shanghai Airline Tours, a division of China Eastern Airlines, chartered Atlantica from Costa Cruises and has programmed an around-the-world tour that touches five continents across three oceans. The ship will call upon 23 diverse ports of call in 16 different countries.
Costa is no stranger to China. In fact, Shanghai has been one of its homeports since 2006. The 2,394-paseenger Costa Victoria has sailed year-round from Shanghai since May of 2012. Costa Atlantica now joins Victoria in the region and both will offer itineraries throughout Asia. In June, Atlantica will homeport out of Keelung, Taiwan for five-night itineraries to Japan and South Korea. From July through year's end, the ship will sail from Shanghai and offer four- and five-night voyages to Fukuoka, Cheju, Kagoshima, and Kobe, Japan plus Pusan and Incheon, South Korea.
The nearly three-month world cruise, departing Shanghai on March 22, 2014, will include stops in Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the gorgeous Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The ship will then sail to Egypt before transiting to Europe for calls on the region's most popular ports in Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal. A trans-Atlantic crossing to New York City follows before the ship heads south to Miami and then on to Central America by way of the Panama Canal. Atlantica will end up in the Pacific Ocean and will set her sights on the Hawaiian Islands and Guam in the Marianas. The grand voyage will end in mid-June right where it started in Shanghai.
If you book this voyage, you'll notice a few ways in which the experience may differ from your previous cruises. First, a majority of the staff will speak Chinese since the world cruise is being targeted to that market. Second, Asian cuisine will be featured throughout the cruise along with more Western selections. Third, Costa Atlantica's casino was recently enhanced to include more gaming tables and slot machines.
Reservations can be made now via Shanghai Airline Tours. Early booking per passenger cruise fares start at $10,120. Standard fares begin at $12,650 per person.
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com and writes for a variety of outlets, including her website Luxury Travel Mavens. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises