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Royal Caribbean’s CEO on Planning the 9-Month Ultimate World Cruise

Royal Caribbean’s ongoing nine-month Ultimate World Cruise has become a TikTok sensation.
“We had no clue what a pain in the ass a world cruises is,” the cruise line’s CEO said.
The 274-night itinerary includes more than 150 destinations in 65 countries.
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It turns out that planning a nine-month around-the-world cruise is, in fact, as difficult as you might think.
Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas cruise ship departed Miami in December with more than 800 guests and plans to spend the next nine months traveling to over 150 destinations across 65 countries.
The itinerary, known as the Ultimate World Cruise, became an overnight social media sensation and was quickly dubbed “TikTok’s favorite new reality show” by The New York Times.
The idea for this extended sailing was conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic in an attempt to “do something big,” Michael Bayley, the cruise line’s president and CEO, told reporters during a panel interview this month. And that it did: At 274 nights long, Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise is more than double the length of most other around-the-world itineraries.
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Royal Caribbean says its Ultimate World Cruise will visit Antarctica and 11 “wonders of the world.” Royal Caribbean International
But planning a comprehensive global sailing involved more than just selecting a ship and a few dozen ports. As it turns out, Royal Caribbean “had no clue what a pain in the ass a world cruise is,” Bayley said.
The cruise line had to tap several doctors and nurses to travel on the ship. Some of the food rotates according to the season and destination. And to help keep guests in shape, fitness professionals were also hired to lead workout classes.
“It’s phenomenal how much stuff has to get done,” Bayley said, noting logistics like visas and finding an on-board dentist.
Royal Caribbean’s nine-month itinerary is one of the longest global sailings on the market. Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock
The cruise line’s parent company is no stranger to global itineraries: Its luxury subsidiary, Silversea, operates annual world cruises . But compared to Royal Caribbean’s behemoth sailing, the smaller brand’s 132-night cruise is several months shorter and aboard a significantly smaller, albeit more luxurious, vessel.
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Unfortunately for the Ultimate World Cruise’s guests, Bayley said the cruise line failed to include one potentially crucial service: a marriage counselor — because there’s no better way to test a relationship than to spend nine months together in a small cruise cabin.

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