Royal Caribbean announces nine-month round the world cruise with 150 stops

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas

Lucy Thackray©

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean has announced an epic new cruise which will last nine months (274 nights) and stop in 150 spots around the world.

The Ultimate World Cruise, which the company is billing as the “longest and most comprehensive world cruise out there”, will sail from Miami in December 2023 and make stops in 65 countries across all seven continents before ending in September 2024.

Some 57 of the stops planned will be new ports for the cruise company: the ship will stop at unusual locations including Qaqortoq in Greenland, Antarctica, Moorea and Tahiti in French Polynesia, and Okinawa in Japan - as well as bucket-list big hitters such as Rio de Janeiro, India for the Taj Mahal, China for the Great Wall, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Bookings for the epic journey - which will be taken by the Serenade of the Seas vessel, with capacity for 2,490 passengers - are now open.

Entry-level, interior cabins for the full voyage cost from $60,999 (€52,400 approx), excluding taxes and fees but including business class airfares.

The longest world cruise until now was Viking’s 245-night Ultimate World Cruise, which set sail from London in August 2019 and was set to return the following May, before the coronavirus pandemic halted all cruises in March 2020.

The vessel had been aiming for a spot in the Guinness Book of Records, but was forced to end the journey early.

In February, Bloomberg reported that 130+-day world cruises were selling out years in advance - heartening for an industry that has lost billions in the past two years.

US giant Carnival reported losses of $10bn in 2020, while in September, Cruise Lines International Association estimated that 200,000 jobs that depend directly or indirectly on the industry had been lost in Europe alone.

Cruises resumed in August, with all operators instating Covid protocols and upping sanitary measures.

Nevertheless, official advice on cruising in Covid times remains cautious, qith the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for example saying:

“Although operators have taken steps to improve infection control, cruise ships continue to experience Covid-19 outbreaks, affecting passengers and seafarers. The confined setting on board and combination of multiple households enables Covid-19 to spread faster than it is able to elsewhere.

“Cruises with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases have previously been denied permission to dock or to disembark passengers. This can have serious implications for passengers and seafarers on board. You should check the protocols of the cruise operator to ensure you are comfortable with safety measures.”