Around the World

in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days – a unique flight free adventure by train and cargo ship from £17,950 per person.


Times have changed since Jules Verne sent Phileas Fogg away on his fictional journey around the world in 80 days. But the urge to see new places and to discover new cultures is stronger now than ever. On this special tribute to the legendary Phileas we take you on an astonishing journey to explore amazing cities, travel through stunning landscapes and meet lots of friendly people along the way.

We’ve replaced steam ships and hot air balloons with comfortable long-distance trains. And with a nod to Phileas we’ve decided to cross the oceans not by jet plane, but by modern day cargo ships.

A Journey of Three Parts

The journey broadly consists of three parts: London to Central Asia and the legendary cities of the Silk Road; China, and after crossing the Pacific, North America including a fabulous trip through the Rockies; finally cross the Atlantic back to the UK – with the option to return in style on board Cunard’s flagship the Queen Mary 2.

Western Europe and Central Asia

After taking a scenic ride through Switzerland and Austria you will continue by sleeper train to the Ukrainian city of Lviv which is often compared to Prague. Next stop is Moscow and after visiting the main sights you will head south and deep into Central Asia.

Travel across the steppes of mighty Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth-biggest country, stopping along the way to learn about the environmental disaster that is the Aral Sea. Visit the Baikonur Cosmodrome and sit in a cosmonaut’s seat before crossing into Uzbekistan where you will take time to explore the legendary Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara.

From the Uzbek capital Tashkent, take the train back across the border to Kazakhstan where you will break your journey with a stay in the leafy city of Almaty and explore the impressive Charyn Canyon. Continue your adventure along the Silk Road to the Chinese city of Urumqi, home to the country’s Muslim Uighur population.

Take time to visit the city’s Grand Bazaar – said to be the largest in the world, before heading across this vast country by sleeper train to Xian. With a local guide visit the famed Terracotta Warriors that reveal the city’s long and turbulent history.

China

We continue our ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ journey in Beijing, which thanks to China’s growing network of high-speed trains is reached in less than five hours. During your stopover meet a local guide for a walking tour of the Forbidden City – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue to Shanghai by taking the world’s fastest passenger train which reaches speeds of 350 km/h (217 mph) and covers the 1,318km (819 miles) from Beijing in less than 4½ hours.

Discover a city which evokes so much history, excess, glamour, mystique and exotic promise in name alone. Your travels through China end with another high-speed train, a dash south to the pleasant island city of Xiamen, formerly known in Western circles as Amoy.

The next part of your remarkable adventure is an experience few travellers get to enjoy, an epic 16 day crossing of the Pacific on an enormous cargo ship which can carry more than 14,000 containers but is limited to just 12 passengers, to the West Coast of the US,

North America

From LA its back on the rails as you set out to cross the North American continent by train. Travel along the West Coast by Amtrak’s Coast Starlight to San Francisco and onto Oregon and Washington State. From Seattle take the short ride across the border to Vancouver where our around the World in 80 Days journey will join the legendary Canadian trans-continental service to Toronto.

During the four day trip take a seat in the train’s dome car and enjoy spectacular scenery as you traverse the Rockies. After breaking your journey in Toronto the next leg of your travels will take you to the French-infused city of Montreal. Board the last train on your around the world adventure, another wonderfully scenic journey, the Ocean sleeper service from Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

With day 80 approaching it’s time to set sail for the UK. You will cross the Atlantic on a modern cargo vessel which is expected to take eight days to reach Liverpool. Enjoy the relaxed pace of life on board and as with your crossing of the Pacific, you will dine with the friendly crew.

For those travellers who would like to finish their adventure in style, then you have the option to cross the Atlantic on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. The itinerary can easily be amended to include a train from Toronto to New York, where you will embark on the QM2 for a seven night crossing to Southampton. Please contact us for further details.

 

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour pace

Busy

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary.

We begin our around the world in 80 days journey with a morning Eurostar to Paris. Upon arrival at Gare du Nord make your own way to Gare de Lyon. As you will be travelling with luggage we would recommend a taxi, rather than taking the metro. Or for peace of mind we can pre-arrange a private car transfer. Just let us know at the time of booking. And make sure you allow plenty of time to travel across Paris; we would suggest a minimum of 1½ hours.

Or allow a bit longer and why not break your journey for lunch at the fabulous Train Bleu restaurant inside the Gare de Lyon. Opened in 1900, it is decorated in a sumptuous art nouveau style. A great start to your adventure. Be sure to book a table in advance. Continue from Paris to Zurich on a TGV-Lyria train, a journey of just over 4 hours. Arrive in the late afternoon or early evening and stay overnight. We have chosen a hotel that is in close proximity to the station. Overnight Hotel St.Gotthard or similar.

Travel by Rail Holidays

Leave Zurich in the early morning for Vienna on a slick Austrian Railjet train via the fabulous Arlberg Pass through the Alps and into the Austrian Tirol. The train runs along the Zürichsee and Walensee lakes, and then hugs the mountainside, before it snakes through a huge valley, past Swiss and Austrian scenery taken straight from the Sound of Music.  Sit back, relax and perhaps enjoy breakfast and lunch served at your first class seat.

Upon arrival in Vienna you will have around two hours to wait until it’s time to board the sleeper for the beautiful Ukrainian city of Lviv. For good reason it is often referred to as the new Prague, so now is the time to visit, before it becomes too discovered. Your accommodation will be in a Ukrainian sleeping-car with a private compartment. And be prepared for something quite unusual. At the town of Chop on the Ukrainian border the carriage is jacked up to have its wheelsets changed from European standard gauge (4’8½”) to Russian gauge used in Ukraine (5′).

Unfortunately this does take place in the early hours, so you might want to bring some earplugs. During the evening a Hungarian dining car is normally attached to the train, so enjoy dinner before retiring to your compartment. We can recommend you try a glass of Hungarian rose. However, as with all overnight journeys, it is a good idea that you take some provisions. This includes water and perhaps some items to have for breakfast the next morning. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment).

Please note that due to the early departure from Zurich we have not included breakfast as it is unlikely the hotel’s restaurant will be open before you check-out. Please purchase breakfast at the station or on the train which will be payable locally. To view the on-train menu please visit – https://www.oebb.at/en/reiseplanung-services/im-zug/bordservice

Austrian Tyrol

Arrive Lviv mid-morning where you will be met by our local partner and transferred to your hotel. We have kept the rest of the day free for you to relax after your journey from the UK. Or have a wander around as the city can easily be explored on foot. Overnight George Hotel or similar.

Lviv is renowned as one of the prettiest towns in Ukraine and its historic centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the morning take in some of its highlights on a guided tour including the Opera House, the Dominican Church and Lviv High Castle, located at the highest point in the city at 413m above sea level. Spend the afternoon at leisure. Overnight George Hotel or similar (B)

Today we continue the around the world in 80 days by train, taking a late morning departure to Kiev where you will connect with the overnight sleeper for Moscow. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment). (B)

Arrive in Moscow at around 10am. You will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel. Your room will probably not be available right away so relax in the hotel’s lounge or explore the local area on foot. After you have been able to check-in and had time to freshen up, your guide will return to the hotel and take you on a short city tour.

You will proceed to Red Square – one of Russia’s most iconic landmarks, filled with history. You will see traditional Russian churches with their onion domes and go inside some of them. Later walk through the 130 year old GUM shopping mall. Then see the famous tomb of the first Russian communist leader – Lenin followed by Saint Basil’s cathedral. Overnight Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya.

A leisurely breakfast then enjoy a tour of Moscow’s famous metro system. With your guide ride the metro like a local and enjoy a personalised itinerary. Learn about the history of the system and admire the intricate design, including the futurist architecture at the Mayakovskaya station. Hear stories about each station and choose to add additional stations to your tour.

After lunch return to your hotel where you will have some free time to relax before you are escorted to Leningradskaya Station, located a short walk from the hotel. Board a modern overnight sleeper train for the 650 mile journey south to the city of Samara located on the Volga River. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment). (BL)

Arrive in Samara late morning. You will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel. Rooms will be available for an early check-in. After you have had time to freshen up, your guide will return to the hotel and take you for lunch. In the afternoon enjoy a walking tour followed by a boat trip on the Volga River, upon which the city is located.

Samara was officially founded in 1586 when a fortress was built on the site due to its great vantage point along the river. It became a popular port and developed into an important trade route with the East. Probably due to its economic and industrial stability Stalin chose Samara as the capital of the Soviet Union if Moscow was to fall during WWII. Many government ministries and government workers were evacuated to the city at the beginning of the war.

Evidence of this decision is the bunker that Stalin had built under the Academy of Art and Culture, which is untouched as it was never used. After the city tour you will leave Samara and travel about 40km to the shore of Mastryukovski Lake where you will have dinner at the Eco-Hotel Mayak, which weather permitting will be served on the hotel’s outdoor terrace. Return to Samara where you will stay overnight. Overnight Hampton by Hilton or similar. (LD)

Breakfast at the hotel, then join your guide for a morning excursion which will be on foot. Visit Stalin’s bunker and later stop at Zhiguli Brewery where you will take a tour, followed by lunch. Return to the hotel where you will collect your luggage before being transferred to the station.

At around 5pm join the twice weekly Uzbekistan train for the long journey south to Kazakhstan, taking you through wide open plains, alongside mountains, and into the heart of central Asia. You should expect plenty of checking of passports so it is essential that your visas are in order, but such formalities will only add to the sense of adventure, and that this is no ordinary journey. As with the other trains used on this tour, your accommodation on-board will be comfortable and fairly spacious 2-berth sleeper compartments.

Dining facilities on the train can be limited so be sure to come prepared. Perhaps ask your hotel to provide some food or a picnic for the long journey. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment). (BL)

The Around the World in 80 Days journey crosses the Russian/Kazakh border. In the morning you spend a full day on-board the Uzbekistan passing through Kazakhstan, with plenty of time to meet your fellow passengers. Expect little English to be spoken but no doubt you will make new friends over a few beers or a little vodka in the train’s restaurant car. This is what long distance rail travel is all about; watching the world go by, chatting to other passengers and all of the time discovering a new country and its culture.

Although the train is not as famous as the legendary Trans-Siberian, your journey will be just as exciting and there is a good chance that you will be the only western travellers on-board. You will reach your destination, the small city of Aralsk at around 10pm, where you will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel. Overnight Keruen Saraiy or similar.

A full day exploring Aralsk, which used to be the main fishing port on the Aral Sea, before the latter began drying up. The first stop will be at the Fishermen Museum and then head out of the city, about 120km to the village of Aqespe where you will take lunch. In the afternoon visit one of the iconic ship cemeteries.

You may have seen some of those famous images of camels roaming between stranded fishing trawlers. They have become something of a symbol of the whole Aral Sea tragedy. Later return to Aralsk via the Karasandyk Canyon and through some impressive dunes. Stop along the way for a dinner at a local restaurant before reaching Aralsk, in time for a late evening train south to Baikonur. Overnight sleeper train (4 berth compartment – for exclusive use of 2 passengers). (BLD)

Very early morning arrival in Baikonur where you will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel. After check-in, freshen-up and get some rest, before taking breakfast. Later join your guide and leave for the famous Baikonur Cosmodrome, one of only two places on earth where humans are regularly thrust into outer space and the sole launch site for manned missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

Previously known as Leninsky and then ‘Star City’, Baikonur was selected in 1955 as the prime location for the USSR Space programme on account of its wide open steppe and lack of population under the rockets trajectories. Since then it has seen the launch of Sputnik (the first man-made satellite), Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space), and more recently British astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS.

After completing passport checks and formalities, obtaining your special permits and exchanging some Russian roubles, you effectively pass into Russian territory as you set out to explore the Cosmodrome and learn about the fascinating history that has been made here. Visit the house of Yuri Gagarin before continuing onto the Space Museum which details the history of the Soviet and now Russian space programmes.

One of the highlights of Baikonur is a visit to the decommissioned Buran spacecraft where you will have the chance to sit in a cosmonaut’s seat. Return to the town of Baikonur and visit the Baikonur museum. It houses an extensive collection of all things space, documenting the city’s conception, the construction of the Cosmodrome and the rockets, the history of the space-race and how the Kazakh culture has influenced Baikonur.

Later move onto the lane of cosmonauts, a green park where a ceremonial tree is planted for each rocket launch. In the evening enjoy a traditional Kazakh dinner with a local family before returning to your hotel where you will have time for a rest before being transferred back to the station for your onward train to Tashkent which leaves at around midnight. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment). (BLD)

The train continues travelling through Kazakhstan until it reaches the Uzbek border in the afternoon. And finally the Uzbekistan is due to arrive in Tashkent at around 6pm, and considering the sheer distance covered is generally fairly punctual. To offer you a warm Uzbek greeting at the station will be our local guide.

Head straight to your hotel, where after two nights on the train a hot shower will be very welcome. Overnight Hotel Navruz Palace or similar.

 

Morning at leisure to relax after your long journey. In the afternoon join your local guide to explore the city. Visit Old Tashkent, the impressive Khast Imam Square, the holy heart of the city where the Telyashayakh Mosque houses the Uthman Koran, said to be the world’s oldest. Afterwards there will be time to wander through Chorsu Bazaar, the largest farmer’s market in Tashkent, filled with the heady smell of spices. Later return to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Navruz Palace or similar. (B)

Transfer to the station for the morning Afrosiyob high-speed train to Bukhara, where the city’s historic centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Later join your local guide for a city tour. Bukhara is one of the region’s most spectacular cities, where a superbly preserved old quarter lends itself to exploration on foot.

Highlights of the tour include the spectacular 12th century Kalyan Minaret, one of the defining symbols of Bukhara and once the tallest building in Central Asia, and the three domed bazaars; the Jewellers’ Bazaar, the Cap Makers’ Bazaar and the Moneychangers’ Bazaar. After the tour explore on your own or return to your hotel. Overnight Caravan Hotel or similar. (B)

After a morning at leisure and perhaps a final opportunity to explore one of the region’s true gems, board a mid-afternoon Afrosiyob high-speed train to the legendary city of Samarkand. Built in Spain by the Talgo Company these trains are the flagship of Uzbekistan Railways. The journey will take around an hour and half. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Overnight Konstantin Hotel or similar. (B)

Join your guide for a tour of Samarkand’s spectacular collection of architecture, the most famous of which are found at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Registan. Early western travellers wrote extensively of Samarkand’s remarkable mosques, madrassas and mausoleums, all elaborately decorated by blue ceramic tiles and traditional Islamic art. Nearby, at Gur-e-Amire, lies the 15th century tomb of Amir Timur, also known a Tamerlane, one of the most effective military leaders in history, and his grandson, Ulugh Beg a visionary astronomer.

Elsewhere, after admiring the impressive Bibi Khanym mosque continue to the extensive Siab Market, before taking lunch. In the afternoon visit Shakhi Zinda, a collection of richly tiled mausoleums for rulers and nobles of Samarkand. The site’s name translates to Living King and refers to an original shrine thought to be the grave of Qusam ibn- Abbas, a cousin of the prophet Muhammad.  Overnight Konstantin Hotel or similar. (B)

After a free day set aside for you to explore Samarkand on your own, you will be transferred to the railway station to re-join the Afrosiyob high-speed train for the very final leg of your epic adventure to Tashkent. Arrive in the evening, and after a transfer to your hotel celebrate what has been an amazing journey. Overnight at Shodlik Palace or similar. (B)

After a free morning you will be transferred back to the station. Continue the around the world in 80 daystrip by boarding a train for Almaty, Kazakhstan. As with the other sleeper trains that you will take on this trip accommodation will often be in a four berth compartment but reserved for your exclusive use.

Generally a dining car will be available but we always suggest that you travel with some basic provisions including water and some snacks. The train will cross the Uzbek/Kazak border within a couple of hours of leaving Tashkent and as with other border crossings on this tour, you should be prepared for lots of checking of your passport.

Furthermore it’s not uncommon for passengers to be told to leave the train, often with their luggage, in order that immigration and custom formalities can be completed at the stations either side of the border. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment). (B)

We are a quarter of the way through travelling around the world in 80 days. An early morning arrival in Almaty where you will leave the train at the city’s Alma Ata 2 station. Make your own way to your centrally located hotel, about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the station. Subject to availability check-in early at the hotel and get some rest, or if necessary leave your luggage with the hotel’s reception.

Take a stroll around the city or relax in the hotel’s lounge. Later meet a local guide for an afternoon city tour and visit top landmarks including the Zenkov Cathedral and the Green Bazaar. Ride the Almaty cableway and see views of the city from Kok-Tobe hill. Learn about Almaty’s cultural history and visit the Museum of Musical Instruments. Return to your hotel. Overnight Mercure Almaty City Center or similar.

After breakfast meet your guide at the hotel for a full day trip to the Charyn Canyon – a popular excursion from Almaty. After leaving the city you will stop for refreshments before reaching Baiseit village, where you will visit the bazaar. Continue to the Charyn National Nature Park where your guide will tell you about the history of the Valley of Castle canyon and show you the most breathtaking views.

Descend into the canyon to the Charyn River which will take about 40 minutes to walk. After something to eat return to the vehicle and continue to “Moon” Canyon with an opportunity for a walk before heading back to Almaty, with a stop at the Bartogai Reservoir along the way. It is anticipated that you will be back at the hotel by about 7pm. Overnight Mercure Almaty City Center or similar. (B)

Today has been set aside as a free day for you to relax and to get some rest. Or enjoy the city’s pleasant parks and excellent museums, and a wide of choice of places for eating and drinking. Overnight Mercure Almaty City Center or similar. (B)

After breakfast make your own way back to the Alma Ata 2 station where you will board the twice weekly train to Urumqi, China. The long delayed Sino-Soviet Peace Railway project was finally completed  in 1990 and the route now serves as a useful link to travellers wishing to travel along the Silk Road.

The train crosses the Dzungarian Gate mountain pass bound for China’s Xinjiang province home to the country’s Muslim Uighur population. Snow-capped peaks can be seen for most of the year at the border post of Druzhba (Peace) before the downhill run to Urumqi where it arrives the next morning.

Please note that it is unlikely the train will convey a dining car and there will be very few opportunities to buy food and drink at the stations along the way as vendors do not always meet the train. So it is essential to come prepared for the journey which will take around 24 hours. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment). (B)

Mid-morning arrival in Urumqi where you will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel. As a fast-growing Central Asian hub, the city does business with traders from Beijing to Baku and plays host to an exotic mix of people. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine where else in the world you’ll see Chinese, Arabic, Latin and Cyrillic script so commonly side-by-side. This truly is Central Asia.

Urumqi is not a historic city, but its museum is excellent and there are some atmospheric Uyghur districts. We suggest that today you get some rest after your long train journey from Kazakhstan and enjoy the excellent facities of your hotel. The next day you will explore the city with a local guide. Overnight Hilton Urumqi or similar.

After a leisurely breakfast meet your guide at the hotel and drive to Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar which is the largest bazaar in the world. Here you will find items representing the major ethnic groups in Xinjiang, including Uyghur musical instruments, atlas fabric, local rugs, and Uyghur knives. Your tour guide will advise you on how to bargain with the local vendors, so you can enjoy the fun and interest of haggling for the best prices.

Climb to the top of the Grand Bazaar Sightseeing Tower to get the bird’s eye view of the whole area. Then visit the exhibition which shows the history and culture of the Silk Road and learn about the local Uygur, Mongolian and Kazakh’s cultures. Return to your hotel by mid-afternoon. Overnight Hilton Urumqi or similar. (B)

Enjoy time at leisure in Urumqi before a mid-afternoon transfer to the railway station where you will board a sleeper train for Xian, a journey of more than 2,500km which will take around 24 hours. As with most trains on this tour you are likely to find a dining car serving simple, freshly prepared meals. But as always do come prepared and purchase some provisions for the journey. Overnight sleeper train (2 or 4 berth compartment for exclusive occupancy). (B)

Today will be spent on the train as it heads towards Xian. Meet your fellow passengers, some of whom will be keen to practise their English and hear about your travels. Arrive in Xian at around 7pm where you will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel. Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square or similar.

Once called Chang’an, this was the glittering capital of Cathay. Old pagodas, city walls and watchtowers remain, but the major attraction is the famed Terracotta Warriors that reveal the city’s long and turbulent history. After a free morning your guide will meet you at the hotel and you will drive directly to the site of Terracotta Warriors.

Here you will see some 8,000 life size terracotta warriors all in real battle formation, which were buried underground over 2,200 years ago. The Museum visit includes three original pits, Pit 1 as the main force, Pit 2 as the Elite Troupe and Pit 3 as Headquarters. The Museum also exhibits bronze chariots, terracotta acrobats and bronze weapons. Later return to your hotel. Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square or similar. (B)

Today you will take your first ride on one of China’s growing network of 300km/h (186 mph) high-speed trains. After breakfast you will be transferred to Xian’s North railway station where you will board the train for the 1,200km trip Beijing, a journey of about 4hr and 20min. Upon arrival at Beijing’s West station you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Grand Mercure Beijing Central or similar. (B)

After a leisurely breakfast meet your guide at the hotel and leave on a private the tour which will include visits to Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world, with space for up to one million people, followed by the famous Forbidden City. With your guide discover the largest ancient palace complex in the world and admire the palatial buildings and cultural relics that date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. After the tour continue sightseeing on your own or return to your hotel. Grand Mercure Beijing Central or similar. (B)

After breakfast you will be transferred to Beijing’s Nan (South) station where you will board the world’s fastest passenger train, a 350 km/h (217 mph) high-speed service for Shanghai which will take less than 4.5hrs to cover the 1,318km (819 miles) distance to China’s east coast. Your around the world in 80 days journey arrives at Shanghai’s modern Hongqiao station, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight Holiday Inn Shanghai Hongqiao Central or similar. (B)

After a leisurely breakfast meet your guide at the hotel and leave on a half-day tour. You will have the choice to either follow a suggested itinerary or one that is based on your interests. Attractions include the well-preserved Yuyuan Garden, the Bund or Riverside Promenade (Binjiang Da Dao) with skyline views, the French quarter, and more. At the end of the tour you will be driven back to the hotel, or if you prefer you can explore more of the city on your own. Overnight Holiday Inn Shanghai Hongqiao Central or similar. (B)

After breakfast you will be transferred back to the Hongqiao station where you will board another high-speed service, and the last train that you will take in China, for the five hour trip south to Xiamen, the island city formerly known in Western circles as Amoy.

Now emerging as southern China’s most sophisticated city this will be your base for the next few days pending your departure by cargo ship and crossing of the vast Pacific Ocean to the West Coast of the United States. Upon arrival at Xiamen’s Bei (North) station you will be transferred to your hotel. Surrounded by colourful historical sites, local markets and overlooking Gulangyu Island, from your hotel you will enjoy a panoramic view of the magnificent Xiamen Harbour. Overnight Hotel Indigo Xiamen Harbour or similar. (B)

Located in the southeast of Fujian Province, Xiamen is a hub city, a premier international seaport and a popular tourist destination on the southeast coast of China, is known as the ‘Garden on the Sea’ because of its beautiful scenery. With a mix of cultures; overseas Chinese, western countries and South Fujian, it is where history and tradition merge with modernity and urbanity.

After breakfast meet your guide at the hotel and transfer to the ferry for a boat trip to Gulangyu. Take a stroll and appreciate various old buildings before visiting Union Church, the first Christian church on the island and climb Sunlight Rock, the highest point on the island, from which you can gain a panoramic view. Later take the ferry back to Xiamen Island. Then taking a walk down the centuries-old Zhongshan Pedestrian Street where you can buy some local specialties and cultural artefacts, try some Xiamen local snacks such as shacha noodles, oyster omelette and spring roll.

Continue to visit the 8th Market, the city’s largest traditional market. Seen from a higher building, the 8th market is nestled amongst a complex of mostly ancient houses. Transfer back to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Indigo Xiamen Harbour or similar. (B)

Today has been set aside as a free day for you to explore more of Xiamen on your own or to simply relax. If you have not already been contacted about the procedures for embarkation of the cargo ship that will take you across the Pacific then the shipping company’s local port agent will be in touch ahead of your departure the next day.  Overnight Hotel Indigo Xiamen Harbour or similar. (B)

A major milestone on your around the world in 80 days journey. Today you will board a cargo vessel operated by the French owned CMA CGM shipping company (https://voyagesencargo.com/) that will take you across the Pacific to Los Angeles. At some point during the day, and as advised by the shipping company’s local port agent, you will make your own way by taxi to the terminal for departure.

As more than one terminal is used please ensure that you follow the exact instructions provided and ask the hotel to help you arrange a taxi. From your hotel the distance to the terminal will be no more than about 18km and your hotel will be able to advise you of the approximate fare. (B)

Although cargo ships operate to no set times of departure or arrival, generally you can expect to embark in the afternoon with departure later the same day.  It is important that throughout your 80 day trip you can be contacted by phone (except when at sea) and email. Therefore, please ensure that you are travelling with a fully charged mobile phone with an international roaming service enabled. This is particularly important today when you will be joining the ship and you may need to receive additional instructions or information.

The crossing to the US is expected to take 15 nights with arrival in Los Angeles in the morning of Day 16 local time. This allows for the fact that during your voyage the ship will cross the International Date Line, something that is sometimes celebrated by the ship’s crew.

During the voyage all meals are included in the cost of your fare; breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Please note that that alcohol it not permitted on board CMA CGM vessels. This is not available to purchase on the ship and you must not take your own alcohol on board. For further details about life on board and what you can expect from your voyage please ensure you take a look at the detailed information provided on the CMA CGM website by following these links;

https://voyagesencargo.com/freighter-cruise

https://voyagesencargo.com/life-onboard

https://voyagesencargo.com/information-and-formalities

https://voyagesencargo.com/tips-travellers

https://voyagesencargo.com/faq

On board CMG CGM  A. LINCOLN or CMA CGM G. WASHINGTON or  CMA CGM T. JEFFERSON*

*These vessels are known to operate on the Xiamen to Los Angeles route which is branded by the shipping company as the ‘Pearl River Express’ service – www.cma-cgm.com/products-services/line-services/flyer/PEARL. These are large (140,000 gross tonnage) modern container vessels typically built within the last 10 years.  They can carry in excess of 14,000 containers.  Passage on a particular vessel cannot be guaranteed and other ships which offer a similar standard of service to passengers will routinely be serving the route.                            

You will be at sea for about two weeks and most crossings will be direct to Los Angeles without any other ports of call.

Please note that there is neither public telephone nor Wi-Fi on board the ship. Passengers can have a personal e-mail address created for the duration of their journey, for an additional cost to be paid before disembarking. This is strongly recommended not only so you can keep in touch with friends and family, but also because it is important that you can be contacted by Undiscovered Destinations in respect of your onward travel arrangements.

Commercial ships generally have an indoor seawater pool, and a fully-fitted gym with weight machines and a table tennis table. Some ships also have a sauna.

There are never more than 12 passengers on board and they share the living area and dining room with the crew. The living area contains a TV, DVD player, a library, and board games. It is a convivial place where you can chat with the officers and crew, relax, and watch a film or lose yourself in a book.

As Wi-Fi will not be available during your voyage we strongly recommend that you download any films which you plan to watch to your electrical devises before you embark. The same applies to e-books and other forms of entertainment or streaming services which would normally require an internet connection.

Often passengers who choose to travel by cargo ship will view the experience as an opportunity for a ‘digital detox’. We would encourage you to do the same.

Today, after the long crossing from China, it is anticipated that your ship will arrive in Long Beach, Los Angeles. No set time of arrival will be given in advance but generally you can expect to disembark in the morning, usually before noon. It is likely US immigration and customs officials will come on board the ship to conduct the relevant checks, after which you will bid farewell to the crew and go ashore.

Please note that as the time of your disembarkation is unknown we are unable to arrange a port to hotel transfer in advance. Therefore, you will need to take a taxi. The ship’s crew or the local port agent will be able to assist.

Make your own way by taxi to your hotel which is located in downtown Los Angeles, approximately 26 miles from the port terminal in Long Beach. Alternatively you can take the mass transit system, ‘Metro’ – www.metro.net/riding/schedules/801/.

Please note that as money exchange facilities may not be immediately available once you have left the ship it is recommended that your travel with sufficient US dollars cash in order to cover transport costs.

Check-in at your hotel located in the downtown area of the city. Overnight Doubletree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown or similar. (B)

We have set aside two free days in LA on the Around the World in 80 Days trip. This is intended to allow for possible unexpected changes to the shipping schedule or delays caused by the weather. Please use the time to explore LA on your own or arrange some guided sightseeing locally.

For first time visitors to the city ‘Hop on Hop off’ bus tours are a good option and your hotel will be able to provide further details. Alternatively you may want to enjoy the warm Californian weather and relax by the hotel’s pool. Overnight Doubletree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown or similar. (B)

Today you will leave LA and head north on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight service to San Francisco. The train departs at about 10am from Union Station, which is about a 15 minute walk from your hotel or a short taxi ride. The journey is very scenic as the train often hugs the Californian coast before reaching Emeryville station at around 10pm.

As the Coast Starlight continues north to Oregon and Seattle it doesn’t serve a station in central San Francisco so you will be met from the train in Emeryville (near Oakland) and transferred to your hotel, located in the popular Fisherman’s Wharf area of the city. The transfer which is about 10 miles will take you over the Bay Bridge which links Oakland and San Francisco. Overnight Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman’s Wharf or similar. (B)

As with your stay in LA, your time in San Francisco (and your remaining city stays in the US and Canada) will be at leisure giving you the freedom to explore on your own. For first time visitors to the city ‘Hop on Hop off’ bus tours are a good option and your hotel will be able to provide further details. Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman’s Wharf or similar. (B)

Today will be another full day at leisure until your evening departure for Seattle. At around 8pm make your way to Amtrak’s Bus Transfer Station located on Drumm Street, a short taxi ride from your hotel. Take the Amtrak connecting bus to Emeryville where you will board the Coast Starlight as it heads north to Seattle. Overnight sleeper train (2 berth compartment). (B)

Widely regarded as one of the most spectacular of all train routes, the Coast Starlight links the greatest cities on the West Coast. The scenery along the route is unsurpassed. The dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile valleys and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline provide a stunning backdrop for your journey.

Sit back and enjoy the ride whilst you enjoy freshly prepared meals served in the dining car and included in your fare. Arrival in Seattle’s King Street station will be at about 8pm. Make your own way to your hotel, located very close to the station. Overnight Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown Pioneer or similar. (BLD)

Your time in Seattle will be at leisure giving you the freedom to explore on your own. Main sights include Pioneer Square, the city’s oldest neighbourhood which boasts some incredible architecture, art galleries, cafés and bookstores. Or for exceptional panoramic views of the downtown, but also of the Puget Sound, the Cascades and Olympic Mountains, visit the top of the Space Needle.

Originally constructed to be part of the 1962 World’s Fair, this Seattle landmark is arguably one of the most iconic. For first time visitors to the city ‘Hop on Hop off’ bus tours are a good option and your hotel will be able to provide further details. Overnight Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown Pioneer or similar. (B)

After a leisurely breakfast return to King Street station where you will board a morning Amtrak Cascades service for the 3½ journey to Vancouver. The ride is very scenic as the train passes the natural wonders of majestic mountains, glacier blue bays, waterfalls and volcanoes.

These Cascades branded services are operated by modern European style Talgo trains from Spain and on board you will find wide, reclining seats, laptop outlets and a bistro car with drinks and light meals for purchase. Upon arrival in Vancouver make your own way to your centrally located hotel, about a 20 to 30 minute walk from the station or take a taxi.  Overnight Hilton Vancouver Downtown or similar. (B)

Backed by snow-capped mountains, dotted with large parks and hugged by the sea, there are few cities with a natural setting that compares to Vancouver.

The city’s compact size means you can fit many activities into a single day, whether you choose to explore Stanley Park and learn about the region’s First Nations heritage, stroll through the streets sampling the diverse gourmet food expertly cooked in front of you, or gain a wider perspective of the area’s natural beauty on an optional scenic seaplane flight. Your hotel will be pleased to help organise some guided sightseeing or simply explore on your own. Overnight Hilton Vancouver Downtown or similar. (B)

After a free morning make your own way back to the city’s Pacific Central Station which acts as the western terminus of Via Rail’s cross-country the Canadian service to Toronto. Board the train in the mid-afternoon and settle in to your Sleeper Plus 2-berth bedroom (or for solo travellers a single-berth roomette). The fare includes all meals in the elegant Sleeper Plus dining car, together with complimentary tea, coffee and morning juice served in the skyline car complete with an observation dome.

Upon departure the Canadian passes through Vancouver’s eastern suburbs into British Columbia’s agricultural heartland. Then, take in the stunning views of the Fraser Canyon as the train winds its way through the Cascade and Coast Mountains perched alongside the mighty Fraser River and past the raging rapids of Hell’s Gate. Enjoy dinner in the dining car and retire to your private sleeping accommodation. Overnight sleeper train (Sleeper Plus compartment). (BD)

Around 11am the train will make a stop at Jasper, one of the principle stations on the route, located high in the magnificent Canadian Rockies. After departure from Jasper enjoy the wonderful scenery and take time to meet some of your fellow passengers. At around 7pm the train will reach Edmonton, another major stop before continuing overnight to Saskatoon. Overnight sleeper train (Sleeper Plus compartment). (BLD)

After an early stop at Saskatoon continue towards Toronto and across the wide open prairies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, making an evening stop in Winnipeg. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served during the journey. Overnight sleeper train (Sleeper Plus compartment). (BLD)

The around the world in 80 days journey travels through the Great Canadian Shield. Expect more fabulous scenery including lakes, ponds, waterways, forests and rocky outcrops. Overnight sleeper train (Sleeper Plus compartment). (BLD)

Your last morning on the Canadian with breakfast and lunch served in the dining car before arriving in Toronto’s Union Station at around 3pm. Upon arrival make your own way to your hotel, located close to Lake Ontario, about a 15 minute walk from the station or a short taxi ride. Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown or similar. (BL)

Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the largest city in Canada and also one of the most diverse. It’s home to a dynamic mix of tourist attractions, from museums and galleries to the world famous CN Tower and, just offshore, Toronto Islands. The city centre is relatively easy to navigate, with many of the top attractions within walking distance of each other and a subway system to cover longer distances.

Rather than exploring on your own if you would like to take a guided tour ask your hotel for details. Overnight Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown or similar. (B)

Mid-morning make your way back to Union Station where you will board VIA Rail’s comfortable inter-city train for Montreal, a journey of about five hours. You will travel business class which includes a complementary airline style meal served at your seat and beverages, including wine and beer.

After leaving Toronto the train follows Lake Ontario before heading towards Montreal where you will arrive late afternoon at the city’s Gare Centrale station. After leaving the train make your own way to your hotel, about a 10 minute walk from the station. Overnight Novotel Montreal Centre or similar. (BL)

The second largest French-speaking city in the world, Montreal is famed as a cosmopolitan hub of culture and international trade, with a rich colonial history. Montreal’s best attractions provide ample opportunities for exploration and entertainment. We recommend you take a stroll around Old Montreal, the original site of the city’s French colonial origins.

This cobblestoned district is lined with boutiques, galleries, restaurants and a few kitsch souvenir shops, all housed among well-preserved buildings that date back to the 17th century. Wander through the area’s most prominent public squares – Place d’Armes, Place Royale and Place Jacques-Cartier – and check out the 18th-century Château Ramezay residence with its French colonial-style Governor’s Garden. Or if you prefer ask your hotel about taking a guided tour. Overnight Novotel Montreal Centre or similar. (B)

Another day at leisure for you to explore Montreal before its time to return to the Centrale station to board the evening departure. This is the last train on your Around the World in 80 Days dventure, the comfortable Océan sleeper service from Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia – a journey of1,345km (836-mile).  The trip takes about 22 hours, so there’s plenty of time to sit back, relax and take in the wonderful scenery as you enjoy freshly prepared meals served in the dining car, included in your fare.

Accommodation will be in comfortable Sleeper Plus, with a Renaissance category of compartment compete with en-suite shower and WC. Start your journey with dinner as the train crosses the St Lawrence River. Overnight sleeper train (Sleeper Plus compartment). (BD)

As dawn breaks, the train descends the coast of Baie-des-Chaleurs, and continues towards Moncton and then Halifax. During the day take a seat in the ‘Park’ car which is normally attached to the train. Enjoy 360-degree views from the upper observation deck, known as the dome.

Breakfast and lunch will be served during your journey before a late afternoon arrival in Halifax. After leaving the train make your way to your hotel, about a 10 minute walk from the station. Overnight The Westin Nova Scotian or similar. (B)

Compared to conurbations such as Vancouver and Toronto, Halifax barely qualifies as a city, but this seaside town punches well above its size: it’s dotted with red-brick heritage buildings, public parks and a landmark citadel, blessed with some first-rate museums, and home to a truly epic 4km seafront boardwalk. The city is ideal for a short stopover before you embark on the final leg of your journey – a crossing of the north Atlantic by cargo ship. Explore on your own or ask your hotel about guided tours. Overnight The Westin Nova Scotian or similar. (B)

Later today you will board a cargo vessel operated by the Atlantic Container Line. This is an American shipping company owned by the Italian Grimaldi Group (www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com/), which will take you across the Atlantic to the UK and the completion of your journey around the world in 80 day.

At some point during the day (but likely to be in the evening) and as advised by the shipping company’s local port agent, you will make your own way by taxi to the terminal for departure. Subject to local confirmation you are likely to be asked to report to the Fairview Cove Container Terminal, located about 8km from your hotel. Until you are advised to go to the terminal your day will be at leisure. Please ask at your hotel reception about a possible late check-out (additional costs may apply). (B)

As cargo ships operate to no set times of departure and arrival it is important that throughout your 80 day trip you can be contacted by phone (except when at sea) and email. Therefore, please ensure that you are travelling with a fully charged mobile phone with an international roaming service enabled. This is particularly important today when you will be joining the ship and you may need to receive additional instructions or information.

The crossing to the UK is expected to take seven nights with arrival in Liverpool on the morning of day eight local time.

During the voyage all meals are included in the cost of your fare; breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Unlike your crossing of the Pacific travel, ACL (Grimaldi Group) will allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed in moderation on board. However, these must be purchased on the ship and it should be noted that only limited stock and selection of beverages is available. Passengers must not take their own alcohol on board.

For further details about life on board and what you expect from your voyage please ensure you take a look at the information provided on the Grimaldi Group’s website by following these links;

www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com/en/important-information.html

www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com/en/useful-information.html

On board Atlantic Sail, Atlantic Sea, Atlantic Sky, Atlantic Star or Atlantic Sun*

*These vessels are known to operate on the Trans-Atlantic passenger service from Halifax to Liverpool –

www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com/en/fleet.html. These are large (100,000 gross tonnage) modern vessels typically built within the last 10 years which can carry up to 3,800 containers and over 1,300 vehicles.

Passage on a particular vessel cannot be guaranteed and other ships which offer a similar standard of service for passengers may routinely be serving the route.                                 

You will be at sea for the next seven days and most crossings will be direct to Liverpool without any other ports of call.

Please note that there is neither public telephone nor Wi-Fi on board the ship. Passengers can receive personal emails sent (without attachments) to the vessel’s e-mail address free of charge. Emails can also be sent (without attachments) for a flat amount of one euro per email.

There are never more than 12 passengers on board these vessels and you will share the living area and dining room with the crew. Facilities on board include a gym, TV, movies (DVD), laundry, books, karaoke machine, PlayStation. There is also a sauna on most vessels but not a swimming pool.

As Wi-Fi will not be available during your voyage we strongly recommend that you download any movies which you plan to watch to your electrical devises before you embark. The same applies to e-books and other forms of entertainment or streaming services which would normally require an internet connection.

Often passengers who choose to travel by cargo ship will view the experience as an opportunity for a ‘digital detox’. We would encourage you to do the same.

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Your astonishing Around the World in 80 Days adventure ends as you sail into the Mersey. It is anticipated that you will bid farewell to the crew and disembark in the morning. (B)

We offer the Around the World in 80 Days tour for private departures only

Prices start from £17,950 per person, based on two people travelling

and £26,500 for one person travelling

Early booking essential – call us to book

Tour Notes

The Around the World in 80 Days itinerary has been carefully planned based on the latest train and shipping schedules, but timings can change at short notice, or the days of the week that a particular service normally operates can also change. This will potentially require amending your itinerary and the number of nights that you stay in some of the cities.

Before you are asked to accept any changes our experienced travel consultants will discuss the options with you. To mitigate the impact of potential schedule changes we have built-in a number of days ‘at leisure’, without any travel or other activities planned. However, options may still be limited so it is important that you only embark on this unique adventure if you can be flexible.

Our goal is to ensure that you arrive back in the UK on the 80th day after your departure and the itinerary has been carefully planned with this in mind. But due to circumstances beyond our control, such as shipping schedules and weather conditions, we are unable to guarantee the exact date of your arrival.

It is important to understand that cargo ships do not operate for the benefit of passengers. These are working ships which form a vital network of trade routes across the globe. Passenger numbers are limited to as few as four and maximum of 12 so early booking is essential. Experienced cargo ship passengers will often book at least a year in advance.

As there is no doctor on board cargo vessels you must be in good health to travel. Age restrictions apply and vary by route or shipping company. Please check with us at the time of booking, particularly if you will be aged 75 or over at the time of travel.

At Undiscovered Destinations we welcome travellers from around the world, with many of our clients based in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and mainland Europe. If you would rather start your adventure from a country other than UK please get in touch and we will work with you to plan the perfect itinerary.

 

This journey will be best suited to experienced travellers who are comfortable exploring without being accompanied throughout by a guide or tour leader. At each location, except in North America, you will meet our experienced local partners for guided sightseeing. And unless the accommodation is located very close to the station (less than a 15 minute walk), you will be provided with a private transfer to/from your hotel.

Once you are in the US and Canada we have not included any pre-arranged sightseeing given the lack of any language barrier. However, if you would like to include some pre-organised guided sightseeing please let us know. Alternatively many cities offer good value Hop-on Hop-off bus tours which can be arranged locally.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44 (0)191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • All accommodation
  • Transfers as per itinerary with a private car or minibus
  • Rail travel based on 1st class seats for day time journeys and private sleeping compartments for overnight journeys
  • Private guided sightseeing tours as per itinerary, with the services of an English-speaking guide or driver/guide
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • Travel Insurance – the policy must include cover for travel by cargo ship
  • Visas
  • Meals not stated in the itinerary
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (Discretionary)

We had a very enjoyable trip. I would like to specifically highlight our guide in Uzbekistan who was very good. The trip was well organised and we wouldn’t have any hesitations recommending your company to others.

 

Ben and Rika Smethers, Japan

Thank you for arranging our railroad trip thru Central Asia. We had an amazing time. There was a lot of checking of passports and a couple of times we had to get off the train for customs and immigration. But you gave us good advice so at least we were prepared. Great trip!

Ben Leventhal