Magellan, Sir Francis Drake and other historical circumnavigators would be in awe of today’s World Cruises -- and that certainly includes Royal Caribbean’s current World Cruise. The nine-month Royal Caribbean Ultimate World Cruise departed from Miami on Dec. 10, 2023 onboard Serenade of the Seas. World Cruises aren't particularly "new" concepts (Cunard Line inaugurated the first one a century ago), so what makes this one so special? One word: TikTok.
The Royal Caribbean Ultimate World Cruise aboard Serenade of the Seas is the catalyst for a recent TikTok explosion. The hashtag #ultimateworldcruise has over 251 million views alone -- and counting.
Here's everything you need to know about the viral Royal Caribbean World Cruise aboard Serenade of the Seas, from what it is to what it's really like onboard from cruisers' perspectives, including TikTok influencers.
Royal Caribbean's Ultimate World Cruise is a nine-month, 274-day voyage that visits seven continents, 65 countries, 11 Wonders of the World and over 150 individual ports of call. The Ultimate World Cruise, which set sail aboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas, departed from Miami, Florida on Dec. 10, 2023 and is scheduled to return there on Sept. 10, 2024.
Cruisers have the possibility of sailing for the full 274-day itinerary, but they aren't required to do so. There are four segments of the cruise to choose from as well, ranging from 63 nights to 87 nights in length: The Americas (Dec. 10 to Feb. 11), Asia Pacific (Feb. 11 to May 9), the Middle East and the Mediterranean (May 9 to July 10), and cruising to Europe & Beyond (July 10 to Sept. 10).
The full Ultimate World Cruise itinerary looks like this: From Miami, the ship sails to the Caribbean, east coast of South America, Antarctica, west coast of South and Central America, west coast of the U.S., Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, back to Southeast Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Ireland, the U.K., the Nordic region, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, NYC, Bermuda, the Bahamas and back to Miami for disembarkation.
The cost of the full 274 days is a steep price: $59,999 per person for an interior stateroom. While it may sound expensive, there are impressive perks that are included, such as round-trip business class airfare, premium transfers, deluxe drink package for the entire voyage, gratuities, Wi-Fi, and wash and fold laundry service. Plus, when you break it down on a per-day cost, the voyage isn’t really all that expensive.
For those who choose only one segment of the sailing, fares range from $13,399 to $17,799 for an interior cabin and include perks like the deluxe beverage package for the whole sailing, Wi-Fi, gratuities, and wash and fold laundry service.
Since the first passengers embarked Serenade of the Seas, this world cruise has taken TikTok by storm as creators onboard share their unique experiences around the world with their followers. But what exactly is so intriguing to these TikTok users?
"They see us all as a sort of a social experiment," Sabrina Snyder told Cruise Critic. Snyder is the creator of the food recipe website Dinner, Then Dessert the corresponding TikTok account. Snyder and her family are currently onboard the Royal world cruise and will be sailing the full 274 days. Her TikTok page currently has 26.4K followers. "Most of our followers are much younger than the bulk of the travelers onboard so I’m hopeful by following along, they also think it could be a good travel option for them."
TikTok users are simply dumbfounded by the fact that people are capable of both cruising for nine months and vacationing for such an extended period of time.
Serenade of the Seas, which has a passenger capacity of 2,146 in its 1,073 rooms, hasn't altered much onboard for this specific cruise. So, what is it really like on this marathon cruise and does it fit the bill for those sailing?
For starters, cruisers have thus far been overall satisfied with the staff and service onboard. "Soon after our meal, [staff members] delivered two more special martinis to my stateroom for my birthday with a red velvet cake from Chops Grille. It was a very sweet sentiment," said Snyder.
Dining has also been a hit, even for those with dietary restrictions. "The culinary team has done an amazing job accommodating my dietary restrictions," Shannon Lake, TikTok account owner of @swankalamode, told Cruise Critic. Shannon is traveling the full cruise with her sister, Brandee Lake, who is the owner of the TikTok account @iambrandeelake, along with their parents. Shannon and Brandee have 86.5K followers and 163.6K followers respectively. "When given advanced notice, they make adjustments for me to have a modified version of the same dishes from the general menu," Shannon Lake said.
All in all, the ship is lively and inviting to all cruisers. "Everywhere on the ship constantly has music playing and people talking," Shannon Lake told Cruise Critic. The mutual excitement felt by cruisers is palpable, to say the least, making the anticipation for future ports of call likely contagious.
When pondering a world cruise, one has to wonder: What could be the challenges of taking such a lengthy sailing? Traveling and being taken to your destinations can be undeniably rewarding, yes, but what about the hurdles one has to overcome while onboard?
For those cruising with children, like Snyder, homeschooling kids can be a bit of a hassle. Snyder also said that doing taxes soon might be a bit more difficult to do while on a cruise ship.
But it's also the little things on the ship itself that could be aggravating. "It would be nice if there was a designated quiet zone during non-sleeping hours of the day," said Shannon Lake. "While I could go to my cabin, it is still a shared space and not guaranteed to be quiet." Brandee Lake echoed this sentiment, stating, "I wish we had the ability to book private space/room for activities. Because the conference rooms are being used for immigration, which is understandable, I wish an alternative area was made available to be able to book."
While there may be some challenges on Royal's first-ever Ultimate World Cruise, it's safe to say cruisers appear to be very happy with their decision to sail on this world cruise – and that it was indeed worth every penny.
"The costs [of living a year abroad] would've been significantly higher than the rate we paid for this trip,” said Snyder. “The peace of mind of having the travel from place to place handled for us and for less money made the decision easy for us.”
“In addition to what was included when we first booked, an additional four excursions were added to our package, and there have been specialty surprises and delights for people who booked the full nine months early," said Shannon Lake.
When asked if the sailing was worth it so far, Brandee Lake put it bluntly: "Without question."