It’s a big world out there – and a world cruise is the perfect way to explore it. But where to start? Fran Hayden of ROL Cruise picks five of her favourite destinations

From the legendary waters of the Amazon to the dazzling neon lights of Tokyo, the serene landscapes of Antarctica to the metropolitan buzz of Sydney.

There’s no shortage of must-see destinations across our globe.

T. S. Eliot once said, “the journey – not the arrival – matters” and there is no better journey to embark upon than a world cruise.

And with most world cruises embarking in January now is the perfect time to start planning your grand voyage for next year – and start saving those pennies!

BEST FOR CULTURE – HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM  

Ho Chi Minh City is a dynamic city that reverberates through your entire soul.

Commerce and culture merge and shift in a way seen nowhere else in the world and the chaos that this city offers will awaken your senses.

While here, expect to wander through tranquil temples before engaging in a spot of haggling at the city’s famed market – Ben Thanh – for unique handcrafted souvenirs to take home.

If time allows, an excursion to the infamous Củ Chi Tunnels (used by the Viet Cong as a hiding place during the Vietnam war) makes for an eye-opening history lesson.

Ho Chi Minh City is both exotic and compelling – making for an unforgettable addition to any world cruise itinerary.

Experience Ho Chi Minh City with Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Grand World Voyage.

BEST FOR RELAXATION – BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA

If heaven was a place on Earth then the chances are it would be the ‘Queen of French Polynesia’, Bora Bora.

Silky sand and azure seas are not prerequisites to paradise – but they definitely help – and Bora Bora has it all.

Plus, with tours to Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu available and endless opportunities to enjoy snorkelling, diving, paddle-boarding and other water-based activities, your stopover in Bora Bora can be as active or as inactive as you’d like.

And thanks to its fantastic year-round weather, Bora Bora’s farmers are able to grow an abundance of delicious fruits, spices and vegetables – all of which can be sampled in the island’s delightful restaurants.

To enjoy a slice of paradise on your world cruise – make sure to visit Bora Bora.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Grand Round-the-World Cruise can take you to Bora Bora and so many more incredible destinations.

BEST FOR ADVENTURE – AIRLIE BEACH, AUSTRALIA

Australia is famed for being a country with a ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude, however, many of us associate Oz’s highlights with Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

Australia’s Airlie Beach, then, will be a welcome surprise to your world cruise itinerary and delight you with its highlights.

From a variety of water-based activities and adventures in the lush, green rainforest of the Whitsunday Coast to Conway National Park and the renowned Airlie Lagoon – adventures in this town are certainly not in short supply.

Airlie Beach is also the gateway for tours to the Great Barrier Reef – one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and the largest living structure on Earth.

Here, you can explore this aquatic wonderland and swim amongst tens of thousands of species of brilliantly coloured fish, coral and other marine life including whales, dolphins and turtles.

This underwater playground is not one you’ll soon forget.

Enjoy an adventure in Airlie Beach with Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Grand World Voyage.

BEST FOR DIVERSITY – SAN FRANCISCO, USA 

Think of San Francisco and you’ll likely think of its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and the infamous Alcatraz Island.

Sailing under the bridge and past Alcatraz en route to the port, therefore, will become a highlight of your trip to The City by the Bay – blowing you away before you’ve even stepped ashore.

Once you arrive in the city head to Pier 39, the city’s most popular destination where entertainment is in abundance and the smell of clam chowder fills the air, wander the streets and admire the crooked Victorian rooftops (keep an eye out for Mrs. Doubtfire’s house!) and head across town to visit the splendid gardens and museums of Golden Gate Park.

Culture buffs are well-catered for as well, with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum and Cable Car Museum all must-visits.

Savour San Francisco with P&O Cruises’ 2020 Arcadia Grand World Cruise. 

BEST FOR NATURE – MANAUS, BRAZIL

Manaus is the capital of the state of Amazonas and the hub of the whole Amazon region.

Located on the banks of the Rio Negro, the ‘Meeting of the Waters’ takes place four miles from Manaus, where the Rio Solimões meets the Rio Negro to become the Amazon – and tours are widely available to visit this incredible spectacle.

Fondly nicknamed ‘The Paris of the Tropics’ due to its modernisation during the Amazon Rubber Boom, Manaus inherited stunning buildings and the Amazonas Theatre – both of which are joys to behold.

Venture further afield and enjoy a full day cruising the Amazon and enter a world where the people, culture and exotic wildlife never fail to astound.

Surrounded by dense rainforest, keep your ears peeled as you travel upstream and you just may hear the squawking of a thousand tropical birds or – better still – the distinct cry of a howler monkey.

Experience the unforgettable Amazon on board the iconic Queen Victoria.