Month 1 of the 9-Month Cruise Is in the Bag, Here's How It's Going

Here are the latest updates from passengers aboard the TikTok-famous Ultimate World Cruise.

It’s been one month since the Royal Caribbean Ultimate World Cruise departed from Miami and began its nine-month journey around the world. On the one-month anniversary of the cruise, the ship is celebrating by entering one of the most anticipated portions of its voyage: sailing through the treacherous Drake Passage.

But outside of the many port stops that have already been visited, including Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, plenty of other happenings reported on the ship have entertained the TikTok users who are following every development. Some were not so surprising (multiple TikTok accounts reported that some passengers were diagnosed with COVID-19 as early as December 22, just 12 days into the cruise), others were worrisome but ultimately uneventful (some minor flooding occurred), and some were just sad (reports emerged of at least one couple arguing and wanting to leave the ship circulated rampantly during the third week of sailing).

Some new characters have even been added to the "cast," as TikToker Marc Sebastian was just brought on the ship for the Latin America and Antarctica leg of the trip. His early ruling? He wouldn't want to spend nine months on it.

Here's a little bit more context about that COVID story, courtesy TikToker @nchimad, the cruise's self-appointed "Sea Tea Director" who is sharing the cruise's every twist and turn on the social platform. Given how high infection rates currently are just in the US, it is not surprising that the illness has made it on to the cruise ship. 

Below is a passenger perspective of the ship flooding, which happened on cruise deck 12. The flooding occurred after the ship sailed through a storm that had 60 mph winds between Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo.

Most troubling for some, there has also reportedly been some wine drama aboard the cruise—namely, that the ship has been running out of it.

So, how has all this drama all played out? It seems like if you aren't directly impacted by flooding, COVID, or interpersonal drama, the cruise still seems like a total blast.

Cruise passenger Amike Oosthuizen, 26, told Thrillist that she has been overwhelmingly pleased with her experience on the ship thus far.

"Honestly, none of those things affected us at all. We have been having the best cruise ever and it's been such a fun time and we've met so many good people, and I honestly have nothing to complain about," Oosthuizen said via WhatsApp, while insisting that she wasn’t sponsored by Royal Caribbean.

"The people on the ship work so hard and they work and do such a good job, and they're so kind, and all the other guests we've met have been so nice. So none of that drama has had an impact on me or us at all," she continued.

Oosthuizen has been posting vlogs from the ship, and is one of several of the cruisers "cast" in the internet's fictional reality show version of the nine-month trip. We exchanged messages on January 9, right before the cruisers were scheduled to begin the leg of their journey that would take them through the Drake Passage, which is known as one of the most treacherous ocean passageways. Ooosthuzien said she's nervous about the passage, just because she hasn't liked it when the ship has rocked in the past.

"We're going through it and it's going to last 22 hours going through it and then going back as well, another 22 hours,” Oosthuzien explained. "I'm sure we'll be fine because I'm sure they won't put us in conditions that are dangerous, but I am definitely a bit nervous."

Another cruiser, only known to the world as Little Rat Brain, says the cruise feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye. "I wouldn’t believe that it’s been a month if I didn’t have the date on my phone and the stack of cruise compasses in my room," she told Thrillist via email. 

"I've met friends that I would have never met, tried foods that I didn't know existed and been to places that I couldn't locate on a map before visiting," LRB, who also spoke with Thrillist after the cruise's first week, wrote. "While I'm sad that a month has already flown by, I can't wait to see what next month brings."

She wrote to Thrillist as the cruise was nearing the Drake Passage, noting that the ship "switched course to avoid the worst of the possible weather, but we should still be looking at some pretty intense conditions."

"We just finished having hurricane force winds and we haven't even reached the passage yet," she said. 

In a video she shared on TikTok, you can see LRB standing on the deck as the wind whips her hair and clothes around as a somewhat menacing sky stands gloomy in the background. 

Nerves around the Drake Passage aside, Oosthuizen had plenty of highlights to report from her first month aboard the ship. Her highlights specifically center on the 24-hour access to food and coffee. "There's so many food options, so it's just amazing that we don't have to cook. We can eat as much as we want, and everything is included and all the drinks are included," she explained.

Off the ship, Oosthuizen has been blown away by their stops in Rio de Janeiro, Aruba, and Buenos Aires.

“When we went to Christ the Redeemer [in Rio], it was such an amazing experience,” Oosthuzien said. “I also really enjoyed Aruba. It's such a beautiful island, and the water was just so nice and the beach was so beautiful.”

Little Rat Brain also cited Brazil as one of the top destinations so far. Her favorite port was Fortaleza, Brazil.

"It was such an alien landscape to see, and the contrast of the sky and stone were almost too intense to look at," LRB explained. "It was also such a thrilling adventure to zip across the beach in a dune buggy, I don't know how fast we were going—the speedometer was broken, thankfully."

But there are challenges, too. Oosthuizen said that getting used to living in such small quarters for an extended period of time has proven to be an adjustment, and she's also struggled to balance her schedule while working remotely from the cruise.

"The hardest part of the ship life so far has been the work, travel, and life balance," she said. "I still need to work as well. So that has been challenging and making me a bit tired. I want to do everything."

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for eight years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.