Atlas Ocean Voyages' World Navigator sparkles in debut

ONBOARD THE WORLD NAVIGATOR — Three days into the maiden voyage of Atlas Ocean Voyages’ 196-passenger World Navigator, a handsome and unpretentious ship, the staff and the brand’s first paying guests relaxed into a warm, informal vibe.

The World Navigator, whose maiden voyage was a 10-day trip between Athens and Alexandria, Egypt, via the Greek islands, is the first of five ships planned for Atlas, one of very few luxury cruise lines to launch this century. It will be followed by the World Traveller and World Seeker in 2022 and the World Adventurer and World Discoverer in 2023.

First Call: World Navigator

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Atlas is a division of Mystic Invest, which was founded 15 years ago with a single day-cruise riverboat on the Douro River in Portugal. It has since grown substantially, operating about 60 river, cruise and expedition ships.

Although the World Navigator lacks some of the trendy bells and whistles found on recently launched luxe expedition vessels — there are no helicopters or submarines — this 9,930-gross-ton, Polar Category C and Ice Class 1B vessel is, in its own way, a floating jewel. Its size is ideal, large enough to provide plenty of space for all, yet everything onboard feels as if it’s just a few steps away. 

The food aboard the World Navigator has been plentiful, innovative and almost always delicious.

The Navigator has five levels open to guests, topped off at Deck 8, which has both a running track and helipad (for emergency use). 

Deck 7 leads off with the gorgeous Dome observation lounge, which features floor-to-ceiling windows, a skylight, a piano and a marble dance floor with a compass rose design.

Midship, the deck offers a sheltered pool, two hot tubs, a bar area and both open and sheltered sunning space. 
The aft portion of this deck is where six Zodiacs, a pair of personal watercraft, six paddleboards and a dozen kayaks are stowed, along with a flotilla of pontoons that guests can float on.

Atlas Ocean Voyages’ goal is to emulate the shipboard vibe of Sun Line. 

Cabins are on Decks 6 and 5, and Deck 5 also features the Water’s Edge Lookout, an open observation platform on the bow that has heated bench seating. When the ship ventures off to itineraries in Patagonia and Antarctica, this spot is guaranteed to become one of its most popular spots.

On Deck 4, a lineup of public spaces includes the Dom Henrique Theater/lecture room, the gorgeous Atlas Lounge with its small library and a piano, Reception, Paula’s Pantry smoothie and snack bar/cafe, a gym, a spa, a boutique and the Porto restaurant. 

Deck 3 has more cabins and the Mud Room, where guests on polar and exotic sailings can store and change into and out of wetsuits and other expedition gear.

Decor in the staterooms and public areas is a sophisticated blend of art deco and midcentury stylings that infuse bold (but not gaudy) patterns with walnut wood tones and tasteful artwork. They blend seamlessly. (Props to the Portugal-based Oitoemponto hotel and hospitality design firm for averting the blunders of many non-marine designers who forget that ships actually move and shouldn’t have sharp edges, trip hazards and fragile fittings.)

As the World Navigator sailed from Heraklion to Alexandria, the captain made a sobering announcement.

Interiors of forthcoming Atlas ships will differ from the Navigator’s while still offering all the same amenities.

The ship has nine cabin categories, ranging from four 465-square-foot Navigator Suites with balconies to 10 Adventure staterooms with picture windows. I stayed in a 270-square-foot Horizon cabin, which has a Juliet balcony (a floor-to-ceiling window, the top half of which slides down with the push of a button).

Because there is no separate balcony, that suite has a commodious sitting area, a large desk with a built-in minibar and a Nespresso coffeemaker, cocktail table, two large chairs and a settee. 

Extras include plush bathrobes, slippers, L’Occitaine en Provence bath amenities and binoculars for use during the cruise.

After a passenger tested positive for Covid-19, Atlas Ocean Voyages chartered flights to Cairo to enable passengers to finish their trip in Egypt as planned.

The dining experiences were, on the whole, excellent. Porto offers open-seating breakfast, lunch and dinner and a varied menu of themed offerings such as Arabic (fantastic!) and Scandinavian (a little less fantastic). 

Red and white wines are included, as are most drinks, save for top-shelf orders. 

The 7Aft eatery is an intimate poolside dinner option with a selection of steaks, lobster thermidor and, on alternate nights, the special Alma menu of Portuguese specialties from Porto.

One of the most pleasing eateries was Paula’s Pantry, with its excellent coffee brews, pastries and healthful juices and smoothies.

There is also a fantastic tea with live piano music every day in the Dome at 4 p.m.

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