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Following sunshine around the globe on a cruise


Vacationers concerned about the departing summer sun needn't worry. With cruising, it's a breeze to sail around the globe to follow the sun's trajectory.

For instance, during our winter months you can take in South America's summer, or experience nonstop summer on South Pacific itineraries.

• On Discovery World Cruises' sailings to Polynesia, the Galapagos and South America during our winter, you can get free round-trip economy class air transportation from any of the line's U.S. gateways. 866-623-2689; www.discoveryworldcruises.com.

• In December and January, Silversea Cruises' Silver Cloud will offer 15- and 16-day itineraries that call at ports in Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Melanesia. In February, two segments of Silver Shadow's world cruise offer ports in Australia and New Zealand. 877-215-9986; www.silversea.com.

• Holland America Line's Statendam sails the South Pacific half the year on Australia and New Zealand routes during summer down under, as well as offering 24- to 28-day sailings that add Fiji, American Samoa and Hawaii to the itinerary. Ryndam's 30-day itinerary incorporates ports in French Polynesia. 877-724-5425; www.hollandamerica.com.

• Four Princess Cruises ships offer a comprehensive South Pacific program this year and next, featuring itineraries to Australia and New Zealand, Hawaii, Tahiti and an extended Pacific crossing. In addition, the line's "Islands of the Pacific Theater" cruise features a new port -- the World War II battle site of Chuuk (Truk) in Micronesia. 800-774-6237; www.princess.com.

• Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Paul Gauguin is based in Tahiti year-round, offering cruises to French Polynesian ports. This November and again in November 2007, the Seven Seas Mariner will feature two itineraries between Singapore and Sydney. and Sydney and Auckland. 877-505-5370; www.rssc.com.

• Discovery's 29-night South Seas cruise/tour from Papeete, Tahiti, to Peru and the Galapagos departs March 18 and combines cruising the South Seas with highlights of South American cities, and two nights on board in the Galapagos. 866-623-2689; www.discoveryworldcruises.com.

• Celebrity Cruises will make maiden calls down under during the line's first season in New Zealand and Australia beginning in November 2007. Through March 2008, Celebrity cruise/tours will pair six 14-night Celebrity sailings with a three- or five-night land-based vacation either before or after the cruise, including the opportunities to discover the Great Barrier Reef and the giant red monolith known as Ayers Rock.

Celebrity's 1,870-passenger Mercury will make maiden calls in Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound, New Zealand; in Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney, Australia; and in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia's southernmost capital. 800-437-3111; www.celebrity.com.

These warm-weather regions are well represented by other cruise lines, too. For instance, during its world cruise, Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth 2 calls at New Zealand's Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch; and Australia's Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. And the Queen Mary 2 calls at Auckland and Sydney, also during its world cruise. 800-728-6273; www.cunard.com.

Freighter travel

For a novel South Pacific adventure, consider passage on the 386-foot Aranui 3, a 207-passenger freighter that calls this region home. In addition to the company's regular schedule of 15-day cruises from Tahiti to the Marquesas Islands, the freighter will embark on a one-time, first-ever, eight-day Austral Islands cruise on Jan. 19.

The five Austral Islands, located on the Tropic of Capricorn, are approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Tahiti and the southernmost group of islands in French Polynesia.

"The Aranui 3 is a far cry from any passenger freighter from the past," said Jules Wong, marketing director and partner of Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime, owners and operators of the 386-foot vessel, in an announcement. "But CPTM is not trying to pass the ship off as a luxury cruise ship. That's not what we are."

In fact, the ship is a working freighter that routinely delivers the staples of life to people in the islands, Wong explains. "Passengers looking for all the glitz and frills offered on luxury cruise ships will not find such amenities on a passenger-freighter." Still, Aranui offers spacious suites, all with windows, an outdoor swimming pool, bar-lounge, gym and library.

The Aranui sails round-trip from Papeete, Tahiti, and plies the blue waters of French Polynesia to Rurutu; Rimatara; Tubuai; Ravavae; and Rapa. Rates range from $2,635 to $3,895 per person based on double occupancy. 650-574-2575; www.aranui.com.