Royal Caribbean International is entering the world of world cruises with a bang: A 274-day sailing that the brand says is the longest of its kind.
Departing Dec. 10, 2023, on the Serenade of the Seas, the Ultimate World Cruise will visit seven continents and 65 countries before ending on Sept. 10, 2024.
According to Royal Caribbean senior vice president of sales Vicki Freed, 82 bookings had been made within two hours of the call center opening for the sailing, 11 of which were for suites.
The Serenade will stop in more than 150 destinations, 57 that will be new to Royal Caribbean. Ports include Casablanca, Morocco; Qaqortoq, Greenland; and Shimizu, Japan, the gateway to Mount Fuji. Passengers will be able to visit 11 great wonders of the world, including Peru's Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal in India. The ship returns to Miami on Sept. 10, 2024.
"This is the world cruise of world cruises," Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean CEO, said in a statement. "Now more than ever, people have resolved to travel the world and make up for lost time. Royal Caribbean is making that a reality with the ultimate vacation that welcomes those seeking adventure and exploration to taste, dance and dream with us around the world."
Royal Caribbean's longest cruise to date was an Explorer of the Seas transpacific voyage from Australia to California of approximately 30 days.
Source: Royal Caribbean International
Pricing for the full cruise starts at $60,999 per person plus taxes and fees. Passengers who pay in full by Jan. 6, 2023, will get a 10% discount.
Full world cruise bookings include business-class air and an evening of festivities and accommodations at the InterContinental Miami prior to departure, Royal said.
Bookings for the full world cruise can be made by phone starting today, with a one-week window through Oct. 26 exclusively for Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society Diamond status members and above to book.
Starting in December, passengers can also book one of four world cruise segments:
• Round the Horn: Americas and Antarctica Expedition, sails from Dec. 10, 2023, through Feb. 11, 2024, and hits three continents, including Antarctica, and 36 destinations before ending in Los Angeles.
• Wonders of Asia and the Pacific Expedition, Feb. 11 to May 9, 2024, visits three continents and 40 destinations, including stops in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, China and India, ending in Dubai.
• The Middle East Treasures and Marvels of the Med Expedition, May 9 to July 10, 2024, begins in Dubai and ends in Barcelona, hitting three continents and 44 destinations. It offers access to Petra in Jordan, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt; the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, Turkey; and the Colosseum in Rome.
• Capitals of Culture, the final leg of the Ultimate World Cruise, sails from July 10 to Sept. 10, 2024, making 40 stops. It starts in the Mediterranean and heads north, visiting Morocco; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Norway en route to New York and finally, Miami.
Crown & Anchor Society Platinum status members and above will receive a bonus Seven New World Wonders shore excursion package, worth $7,500, in addition to other perks, including a Deluxe Beverage package, Voom WiFi and laundry service.
Unique booking process
Abundance Boekestein, Royal Caribbean's senior manager of onboard sales, said during the Coffee Talk that the reservations process for the world cruise and its segments is unique: It is only bookable by calling a dedicated reservation line, and no group bookings will be taken.
In addition, bookings require a nonrefundable deposit, and there is a 100% cancellation penalty 90 days prior to sailing.
Boekestein said that she does not anticipate any smaller segments of the cruise beyond the four expeditions to be made available.
Boekestein said that the Serenade, which entered service in 2003, is the "perfect ship" for the line's first world cruise. With "so much glass in its architecture," there are countless places to "gaze out at the ever-changing seasons and scenery rolling by," she said.
CORRECTED: This report was updated at noon on Oct. 20 to say that the Middle East Treasures and Marvels of the Med Expedition segment ends in Barcelona, not Marseille.
UPDATE: This report was updated in the early evening on Oct. 20 to add details about the world cruise.