One sunny day in 1891, a German ship belonging to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises set off in the Mediterranean with no itinerary in mind. The captain declared, in effect, he was going nowhere, and cruising was born.

In today’s world of cruise ships, it would appear not a lot has changed in that many passengers don’t particularly care about where they are going, or indeed about being at sea.

What lures them aboard modern mega-ships is an intoxicating array of bars, theme restaurants, jingling casinos, waterslides, zip lines, rock-climbing walls, the whole fandango topped with pools crammed with kids.

But there is another way – voyages, where you are going somewhere. Cunard does crossings, Southampton to New York, which is a hugely significant journey – think of the Mayflower and Ellis Island, the Blue Riband and Titanic.

Other lines sail adventurous routes, such as Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, they take a passage to India, or a voyage to Australia, which has the added advantage of avoiding two long flights, including the ones where you stop for a camel ride.

Australia has long been one of my favorite places, particularly for a winter good-weather escape, while sailing into Sydney harbour is one of the world’s greatest travel experiences.

And why did it take so long to find this huge continent? Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (560–480 BC) and his followers were the first to document the theory of land masses in the southern hemisphere to counterweight the northern hemisphere to ensure a balance in the globe.

This idea of a large southern continental mass strongly influenced cartographers until the late 1400s with the belief in the unknown Great South Land…

Words David Wishart

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