Around the World: Cruising in Pursuit of a One-of-a-kind Experience

Cruise Life

A round-the-world cruise is a magnificent journey covering 40,000 km. Cruising around the globe, you will visit places you have always dreamed of visiting. Voyage writer Tomoyoshi Kanamaru says there are many other attractions that “one can only experience by traveling by ship.

Text: Tomoyoshi Kanamaru (Voyage Writer) A nautical writer with extensive cruise experience both within and outside Japan. He has visited all five continents by ship. He writes for “Cruise Ship Collection” [Japanese], which introduces cruise ships from around the world, and contributes serial articles and cruise reports to the magazine “Cruise” [Japanese] (Kaiji Press).

There are sights and colors that one can only cherish on a boat trip. Take the changing colors of the sea. The color of the sea is different when the ship leaves Yokohama or Kobe and when it passes through Okinawa. Similarly, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans have different colors and expressions. So do the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. You will never notice such diversity of the oceans unless you sail on a grand scale, such as a round-the-world voyage. Sunrise and sunset moments are a unique “bonus” of a cruise. You can admire the sun rising over the horizon or watch it set over the ocean like the yolk of an egg. Let’s take a moment to explore some unique experiences that only a round-the-world cruise can offer.

Only during the Spring Equinox and the Autumn Equinox! An Equatorial Experiment

The equator is not visible. Therefore, crossing the equator does not feel actual and is not very exciting. Thus, we conducted an “experiment” on the ship to make the equator “visible.” This experiment is only possible around 1:00 p.m. on the spring equinox and autumnal equinox. You place a small object vertically on the deck at this rare moment, and its shadow will disappear! You can also try this experiment in equatorial countries, such as Singapore and Ecuador, where, on both days, the sun is straight above. However, it is surprisingly difficult to find a place where there are no obstacles blocking the sun. So this is another fascinating experience you can only have on board a ship.

Successfully Observing a Total Solar Eclipse! Next Year, We Will Try Observe a Hybrid (Annular/Total) Eclipse!

When the sun, moon, and earth are perfectly aligned, the moon completely hides the sun, and everything becomes dark. This astronomical phenomenon is known as a total solar eclipse. It is a mysterious and miraculous moment. It is a rare phenomenon, which, depending on the area, can only be seen once every several hundred years. However, if you are on a ship circumnavigating the globe, you can choose a location with good weather conditions suitable for observation. From the sea, you can observe the eclipse with no obstructions in the sky. In the past, Peace Boat successfully observed the total solar eclipse in 2019. Next year in April 2023, we will try to catch the annular/total solar eclipse, in which the sun will look like a ring.

Like a Daydream: Coral Reef Cruising

Sailing in the middle of the ocean surrounded by coral reefs is a luxury. Such an experience is not uncommon on a boat trip. To me, there was a day in the Indian Ocean I could never forget. The Maldives Archipelago appeared in daylight. It was like a daydream. The azure sky and emerald-green coral reefs provided a stunning contrast, and the islands, lush with coconut trees, appeared one after another. Although we could not go ashore, we felt like we had gained one port of call. When we were at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, such scenery continued for two days. No wonder many people spent the entire day on deck and never left.

Dolphins, Sharks, and Whales at Sea

I embarked on an 84-day round-the-world cruise. Surprisingly, on many days I could observe living creatures from the ship. Off the coast of Somalia on the African continent, a pod of dolphins entertained us with their jumps while they swam alongside the ship. The day before the ship arrived in New York, the surface of the Atlantic Ocean was like a mirror as the waves disappeared. Thanks to this, we could see not only dolphins but also sunfish. I also remember a chill running down my spine when the dorsal fins of countless sharks approached the ship. It reminded me of a scene from the movie JAWS. And we witnessed whales squirting in many parts of the world. You never know when and where they will appear, which makes this encounter so exciting.

The Best Spot to Observe Northern Lights is on a Boat.

Auroras are something you want to see at least once in your life. Also called the northern lights, they are fascinating bands of lights that appear in the night sky near the poles. However, it is difficult to observe them during the midnight sun, when the sky does not darken even at night. The best time to observe auroras is in autumn and winter when darkness returns at night. In addition to darkness, the absence of clouds and the sky being unobstructed are essential to observe auroras. All of these conditions are met on the ocean near Iceland in autumn. On Peace Boat’s August cruise, there are five opportunities (five nights) to view auroras before and after the ship arrives in Reykjavik in early October. However, there is one problem: you can be o engrossed observing the northern lights that you might not get enough sleep!

A Rare Tour to the Bridge

When joining a cruise, you would not want to miss the bridge tour: one of the most unique experiences on a cruise ship. The bridge is “the brain,” as the ship circumnavigates the globe for over 100 days. Usually, only those involved in the ship’s operation can enter the bridge. However, during the bridge tours that the ship sometimes organizes during the cruise, visitors can visit the bridge and see inside. The front has a wide window overlooking the sea. You will find the space filled with radars and other precision equipment. On the desk is a chart of the ship’s current route. The officers will explain how they operate day to day. You can even take a photo with the captain! It is a precious opportunity not available on an airplane or a train.

The Dateline Festival: Celebrating the Day that Only Lasts for an Hour!?

When on a round-the-world cruise, you will inevitably cross the 180th meridian on the Pacific Ocean, the so-called date line. Generally, when passing it westward, the date moves forward by one day, and when passing it eastward, the date goes backward by one day. Therefore, a day is “lost” when crossing the date line on a westbound round-the-world cruise. Only on a cruise–a slow-paced journey–, do you experience time this way. It will be different from landing somewhere and simply changing your clock. On any Peace Boat cruise, people on board celebrate this memorable moment by throwing a festival. Many cruises cross the date line, but such a festival must be unique to Peace Boat cruises. It will be one of your favorite memories from the around-the-world trip.

PHOTO: PEACEBOAT, Mizumoto Shunya, Isogai Miki, Yuruki Shiho, Stacy Hughes, AdobeStock