One of my bucket list projects is to go around the globe - solely by using railways and scheduled passenger ships.

I found out that the thing is nearly possible, except one missing link. The travel plan would resemble the following, starting from western Europe. Note that it does not take into account our current travel restrictions due to Covid; this would be in an ideal world where things come back to normal. Visa / paperwork challenges are not covered as well.

  • Take any train connection to Moscow, Russia
  • Ride the Transsiberian all the way to Vladivostok
  • Sail by ferry to Japan, perhaps with a stop in South Korea. I don't remember exactly how the local ferry service operates.
  • Cross Japan by rail
  • And... here is the missing ocean-crossing link to USA west coast!
  • Ride Amtrak trains coast-to-coast to New York City
  • Sail across the Atlantic to Southampton, UK, on the Queen Mary 2
  • From there, take trains back to the continent through the Channel Tunnel and return to starting point

To cover the missing link, I thought about cruise ships. Some sail one-way crossings at shoulder seasons between the Mediterranean and Caribbean to reposition, for instance. But that area of the globe seems not affected by the phenomenon.

Are there any other scheduled oceangoing options to cover that missing link? It is also possible to suggest different itineraries than northern hemisphere coast-to-coast.

Scheduled is important here due to the fact that the Pacific ocean crossing has to be booked along the other legs of the trip. Freighters may have a few passenger cabins, but can slip their schedule by a few days or leave early if goods are delayed or come sooner (as far as I could understand). On either side, trains mostly run daily, but I would avoid the risk of missing the Queen Mary 2. Waiting time for the next passage can be expressed in months.

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    There are one way pacific cruises, but not from Japan. Most cruises are from Sydney or Honolulu. It was trivial to find Honolulu to Peru one way. You might have a harder time finding Sydney to Honolulu, but it will be better than Japan as a starting point. Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 22:20
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    How can it truly be round the world if you don't put a foot in the southern hemisphere?
    – Peter M
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 22:35
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    If you ditched the "scheduled passenger" part of the ship journey it would open you up to cargo ships. That would give you more options
    – Peter M
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 22:37
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    I remember Michael Palin doing a television series in the 1980s where he went around the world in 80 days, following as much as possible the route from the book of Jules Verne. Almost the entire trip went by train and ship (though he crossed Arabia by car after missing a connection, and he travelled a bit by coach due to a train driver strike). He crossed the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on cargo ships. Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin.
    – Abigail
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 11:43
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    Might be worth looking at re-ordering the trip to cross closer to the bering straight - I don't know, but given the much shorter distance I'd guess finding a passenger ship would be possible(?)
    – TCooper
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 21:02

6 Answers 6


I found a cruise that goes from Tokyo to San Francisco (20 nights).

The link is here:

The route map is shown below:

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  • Didn't know this existed. Next boat April 2022, $15k+ USD (a bit out of my price range). Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 20:32

There is no regularly scheduled passenger liner service across the Pacific between Asia and the US. Your options are:

  • Freighter travel. There are a few freighter ships that take (or should I say, took before the pandemic) a small number of passengers (any more than roughly 12 passengers triggers different safety regulations that these ships do not satisfy). These are booked through specialized agencies like Maris. Don't expect anything like the comforts, amenities, or communications connectivity (or medical services) of a cruise ship, and even things like the schedule or ports may change with short notice. There are a number of practicalities to consider with this approach, such as all lines not operating this service during the pandemic, possible visa complications since you may not be not entering the US on a Visa Waiver Program signatory carrier, and logistical concerns around getting in/out of container ports and the possibility of unexpected changes to the itinerary.

  • Repositioning and round-the-world cruises. Pre-pandemic, there were occasional cruise itineraries that would cross the Pacific. There are some of these on the books currently scheduled for 2022 (whether that actually happens or not, and the advisability of getting on a cruise ship during a pandemic, is another question). Due to the nature of the tourism market, many go to/from Australia, but there are some that could satisfy this need, such as this scheduled April 2022 Celebrity Solstice sailing from Yokohama to Seattle. These trips are not regularly scheduled and generally exist to satisfy the cruise line's desire to reposition ships (e.g. the Celebrity Solstice is making that trip so it can serve the Alaska cruise market during peak season before returning to Asia in the fall). See also Cunard's 29 night Yokohama to Vancouver in May 2022. Some transpacific cruises may also be available as segments of lengthy around-the-world voyages; for a sufficiently large sum of money, you can spend 200 days on a Oceania cruise ship and cross all kinds of oceans.


Viking Ocean Cruises offers several cruises that cross the Pacific. Among them:

  • Hong Kong to Vancouver
  • Sydney to Vancouver
  • Auckland to Vancouver

There are also several cruise ships that go around the world, here’s one from Oceania Cruises:

Then you could take a 27-30 hour train from New York to Miami if you want to loop.

If you’re looking to start in Europe, there are cruises from London to Bergen, then Bergen to Montreal, then train (Amtrak) from Montreal to New York, New York to Ft. Lauderdale (involves a short bus ride), then cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to London (goes through Australia, Asia, Africa, and back to Europe).

If you’re keen on hitting each continent) you can take a cruise from Ft. Lauderdale down to South America:

You can also work in Antarctica this way if you’d like by taking a cruise from Florida down to South America, from there to Antarctica and back, then South America back to Florida.

Not sure what currency you use, but your spend is somewhere between $50,000 and $140,000 Canadian dollars depending on what you’re looking to do (adding in South America and Antarctica will cost more obviously and cost of certain cruises are much higher)

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    Hong Kong to Vancouver would tie in almost perfectly with OP's original plans slightly modified: Transsib to Beijing instead of Vladivostok, then sleeper train to Hong Kong, cruise, ..., profit!
    – Jan
    Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 17:33

This may be a little more out-of-the-box (read as: dangerous) than you were looking for, but if you start in Asia you could go up to the easternmost point of Russia. Then, in the middle of winter it is actually possible to ski or snowmobile into Alaska. From there, you could presumably either rent a car or dogsled into a larger city like Anchorage, from which I imagine there are boats or more cars available.

It’s dangerous, difficult, and expensive. But doable (maybe).

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    @phoog A complication is that you may not be able to reach the same port of entry (without crossing the border first, which is generally not something countries like), especially as the usual ports of entry are coastal, literal, ports in that area whereas you're now looking for a land-based port of entry. This was not historically an issue in the US, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_entry in the US section, point 2, but things have changed post-9/11. See angusadventures.com/adventurer-handbook/beringstrait for further difficulties. The Guardian article understates things.
    – ttbek
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 20:29
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    @phoog Oh, also, the 'same' boat journey is NOT allowed. The nearest allowed boat journey is about another 400 km away and hence not really reachable via the ice crossing.
    – ttbek
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 20:31
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    @phoog the bering strait on the russian side is a military zone: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bering_Strait . You need special permission (which you probably won't get unless you have connections during these times) just to be in there. Although it just speaks about entry, presumably it is not an allowed exit area except through the port. I can't find info about the US side, but I would be surprised if it was allowed -- the only official entry would assumedly also be through the port. But "dangerous" is a huge undersell, it would be an extremely dangerous route only experts could attempt.
    – eps
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 20:33
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    @gerrit fwiw that article is 18 years old, and Nome is currently on the official list of US ports of entry. I don't know anything about the situation on the Russian side.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 21:47
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    @gerrit, sure. Although if the topicstarter can ski for 2000km in the mountainous tundra, the rest of the trip might feel a bit underwhelming :)
    – vvotan
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 11:23

As of 2021, cruise ship travel is very much a shadow of its former glory. There have been limited attempts to restart them in Europe and Alaska but so far passenger number are low, positive COVID tests are still a threat for every journey and international borders are still a major headache. Exotic cruising routes such as Tokyo-San Francisco are probably going to be the very last to restart and I'd be surprised if you could board one prior to 2025.

Sure, cruise lines are happy to advertise supposed Trans-Pacific routes (link taken from Zach's answer) but in reality they're unlikely to be launched any time soon. Personally I wouldn't get my hopes up until at least one ship manages to complete the journey with paying passengers. So the realistic answer to your question is no, its not possible, short of chartering a yacht or using some other non-scheduled type of boat to cross the ocean.

  • Yeah I wouldn't hold out particularly high hopes of many of these advertised cruises actually operating next year. Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 23:42
  • Xnero's answer actually linked a cruise poised to start on April 2022 (though it remains to be seen whether they pull through)
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 9:26
  • International rail travel is also that. I'm not sure if there are any trains running between Poland and Belarus ATM.
    – alamar
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 10:10
  • You may be right about the reality of cruise travel – but shouldn't countries actually prefer people entering via long-distance cruise, rather than via flights? It's a form of un-breakable quarantine, and if the passengers are tested both before and during the journey it's almost guaranteed that any virus mutation would be detected before reaching the destination country. In case of flights, neither testing nor vaccination can achieve this. Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 22:48
  • @leftaroundabout the problem with COVID is that once an infection starts, it could take many weeks to spread around the ship - you won't get 100% of the people onboard infected at once. So the only way to restart cruises would be to stop treating COVID infections as something out of the ordinary. Basically how we've treated flu infections on board pre-2019. Its a really difficult transition psychologically so it might take a while, though its inevitable given that COVID is an endemic virus.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 22:55

Yes, it is possible.

There are various repositioning cruises between Asia and US. The problem: they run on shoulder season (fall and spring, when repositioning Alaskan cruises to southern seas). And just few ship do it.

In addition, there are world cruises, which allows also doing just partial trips. You may need to look them. Note: it depends on cruises, which partial trip you are allowed to do, and often they requires two or three (or more week), but it could be nice, if they do the southern pacific route (so you visit a lot of islands).

Also from other answers: fright ships may be an option. There are various site which offered such travels (now with COVID things are more difficult, because also the crew is often not allowed to disembark on many ports).

Unfortunately Eastern Island and Pitcairn have few ferries but only on one direction (one just to Chile, the other to New Zealand).

Atlantic: there are repositioning cruises (much more then in Pacific), world cruises, and there is also the only remaining liner ship which does regularly the transatlantic crossing.

The rest of world (but Antarctica) should not pose a problem: there are railways and ferries. Ok. Africa and South America may be more difficult, because there are ferries and railways, but not really a "network" (so links). You may need to opt also buses, and other private transports.


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