The first person to lead a voyage around the globe did it for spite.
When the king of Portugal spurned Ferdinand Magellan's request for a raise, Magellan set sail for Spain to offer his services to the competing monarch. The adventurer hoped to prove that the bountiful - and profitable - Spice Islands belonged to Spain and not to Portugal, the country of his birth.
Nowadays, thanks to Cruise West, nearly anyone can sail around the world (though it still takes a royal treasury to pay for it).
In its 63-year history, Cruise West has garnered a reputation as a well-run, small adventure cruise line and has won accolades for its journeys in the footsteps of great adventurers.
In March, in a first for the line, you can join Cruise West on a circumnavigation of the globe.
On this 335-day adventure, "Voyages of the Great Explorers," you will retrace the paths of some of history's greatest mariners. For instance, you can walk the land that may have been Troy, where, legend has it, Odysseus, Achilles, and Ajax fought to retrieve the most beautiful woman in the ancient world, King Menelaus' wife, Helen.
Besides Odysseus and the Phoenicians in the Mediterranean, you will follow the ancient trade routes of the mystic East trekked by Marco Polo in the service of Kublai Khan, learn the Viking sagas of Leif Eriksson as you sail the frigid waters from Iceland to Greenland, explore the New World of Christopher Columbus, discover the idylls of the South Pacific and Pitcairn Islands navigated by James Cook, and tour the savory Spice Islands.
This epic voyage will call at 242 ports in 59 countries and 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites, cross 14 seas and oceans, and transit three canals: the Suez Canal, the Corinth Canal (Mycenae/Nafplion), and the Panama Canal.
"No other cruise line, big or small, offers a journey as long or as varied as 'Voyages of the Great Explorers,' " says Cruise West chairman Richard West.
Beginning in Singapore on March 6 aboard the line's flagship vessel, the 120-passenger all-suite Spirit of Oceanus, the expedition will be divided into 24 individual cruises, each from nine to 18 nights. Cruise West will break down the trip into six chapters of history, each reflecting the odyssey of an ancient mariner.
Along the route, you'll visit places inaccessible to passengers aboard today's fleet of mega-vessels (enchanting ports such as Paphos, Cyprus, where you can visit the tombs of kings, and the Italian fishing villages of the Pontine Islands).
And you'll experience unique excursions. For instance, on the opening Singapore-to-Chennai leg, you get a chance to spend two days taking in the sights in Yangon, Myanmar, including Shwedagon Pagoda, said to have been built by Buddha.
Lecturers will include oceanographer Don Walsh, biographer Laurence Bergreen, and PBS host Richard Bangs of Adventures With Purpose.
Prices per voyage start at $4,995 per person and include a pre-cruise hotel night. Book the entire voyage, scheduled to end in Singapore on Feb. 3, 2011, for fares beginning at $230,295 per person. Cruise West offers options to reduce fares - repeat passengers can trim 10 percent.
All fares include planned half-day excursions and one "Ultimate Explorer" adventure.
Each suite on the Spirit of Oceanus includes spacious closets, a large marble bathroom, a sitting area, and a TV.
For details, visit www.cruise- west.com.