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Review: World Traveller

Expedition cruising meets a classic cruise experience with la dolce vita and New England nautical vibes.
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What is the line? Atlas Ocean Voyages

Name of ship? World Traveller

Passenger occupancy? 196

Itinerary? Antarctica

Start out with the big picture—what is this cruise line known for?

Having launched in 2021, Atlas Ocean Voyages is still building its identity and its audience. While its initial plan was to challenge the likes of Crystal, Silversea, and Seabourn in terms of ultra-luxury, the cruise line has pared down to a more relaxed luxury experience—one that includes expedition travel to remote polar destinations and relaxing voyages to traditional cruising ports. All cruises are all-inclusive, from alcoholic beverages to excursions to gratuities.

Tell us about the ship in general

Making its debut in November 2022, World Traveller is the second ship in Atlas Ocean Voyages' growing fleet, and I sailed on her inaugural voyage to Antarctica. She's a small expedition vessel with a maximum passenger count of 196, though the count is scaled back in the polar regions for a more exclusive experience. But World Traveller is not a rugged research vessel from days of yore—from an interior design perspective, the ship takes a classic yacht-like style, from wood-paneled walls to nautical stripes. Atlas brands the ship's inspiration as la dolce vita, but I certainly felt a sense of New England in there, too. Of course, this is still a cruise ship, and that means cruise amenities like an al fresco pool and hot tubs, as well as a spa (L'Occitane branded).  Overall, the atmosphere was more casual than I anticipated, though the service and amenities put the ship in the luxury category.

Who is onboard?

Because Atlas is a new cruise line, it doesn't yet have a deeply established audience. My sailing on World Traveller had quite the mixed crowd: young groups of friends, solo travelers of all ages, older couples, and even families, though there were no young children. Despite the cruise line being just a year old, there was one couple onboard that had already taken two other Atlas sailings—Atlas certainly seems to be doing something right.

Describe the cabins

I stayed in a Veranda Stateroom, the third-tier category overall and the first with a balcony. At 270 square feet, the cabin is cozy for two, but that's not uncommon in standard cabins on expedition ships. I did appreciate the separation of the sleeping area and a small living area with a desk and two side chairs. While I found storage space to be lacking overall, the bathroom was quite spacious, and its standout feature was the shower with its rain head and body jets, plus the L'Occitane products. As you move up the categories, you end up at multi-room suites with butler service. One unusual critique is that I found the bedding to be so satiny that I felt as if I were slipping around the bed as we rolled back and forth on the Drake Passage!

Tell us about the crew

Despite my sailing being the inaugural Antarctica voyage—there were just two short preview sailings beforehand—I found the crew to be a well-oiled machine, and very friendly to boot. The expedition staff comprised a combination of Antarctic veterans and novices, the latter with guiding and naturalist expertise in other parts of the world. Even those without Antarctic experience were well-educated on the continent, from its wildlife to its environment to its geopolitical history.

What food and drink options are available on board?

All meals are served in the Lisboa restaurant, with buffet breakfasts (with some menu options), buffet lunches, and a combination of à la carte and buffet dinners, each night with a different international theme. Ever-changing hot stations at lunch and dinner buffets included stir fry, pasta, and carving stations. Most memorable to me was Thanksgiving dinner, served as a buffet with all the classic menu items, from carved turkey to cranberry sauce to mashed potatoes. There's also 24-hour room service, as well as an early morning–to-dinner grab-and-go café that serves light fare, including yogurt pots, homemade granola bars, salads, and paninis, as well as pressed juices and coffee drinks—this is especially welcome when you're craving a light snack between meal times, particularly after long excursions. And finally, there's always an afternoon tea with a full range of finger sandwiches and sweets.

As for the bars, the multi-page cocktail menu found at both the Dome observation lounge and the main Atlas Lounge is robust for a small expedition ship—my favorite drink was the Americano in Bologna, made from Campari, sweet vermouth, amarena syrup, and soda water. The wine selection was largely Portuguese on my sailing, and I would've appreciated a bit more variety—such as wines from Argentina, where we embarked. Perhaps because this was an inaugural sailing and the ship had sailed to Argentina from Portugal (Atlas' parent company, Mystic Cruises, has a Portuguese owner), there wasn't yet time for a new delivery of local wines.

Is there a spa on board and is it worth visiting? 

The L'Occitane-branded spa is small, with just two treatment rooms, a sauna, and a lounge, but the services are excellent. After a stellar first massage, I booked a second.

Activities and entertainment

As with many expedition cruises, the activities on World Traveller largely revolve around the expedition staff's lectures, which I found extremely engaging on my voyage. But Atlas changes things up with evening entertainment, alternating between documentaries (including one made by our expedition leader, Jonathan Zaccaria, of his time at the French Antarctic station Dumont d'Urville) and musical performances by cruise director Michael Shapiro, special guest Asijah Pickett, and the ship's pianist and opera singer Chase Chandler.

How was the experience for families?

There were no children on my sailing, but Atlas did not advertise any kid-friendly programming in pre-voyage materials or onboard. The cruise line set its minimum age to eight years old on polar cruises, but given the sometimes dangerous conditions in Antarctica, I'd personally suggest bringing older children only.

Where did it sail and how were the excursions? Did anything stand out?

World Traveller really is a world traveler, splitting her time between the polar regions and warmer destinations, such as the Mediterranean. I sailed to Antarctica on a nine-night sailing—a bit shorter of a voyage than is typical for Antarctica, though World Traveller also does longer trips. Excursions are typical for Antarctica with landings, Zodiac cruises, water sports, and the polar plunge, and I felt that the expedition staff handled them expertly. We typically got off the ship in two locations per day when the weather allowed, though some bad conditions had us forgo landings in favor of Zodiac cruises. In classic expedition style, the itinerary is not published in advance, as everything depends on local conditions, which can change every few minutes. Instead, guests are briefed each evening—cocktails in hand—with the intended plan for the next day. Of course, those plans can change at any time, so flexibility is essential.

Finally, give a sentence or two on why the cruise is worth booking.

This yacht-inspired ship is a balanced blend of expedition and traditional cruising. Keep an eye out for sales as the new cruise line casts a wide net to develop its audience.

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