It’s not a ‘shoot-from-the-hip decision’: What to know about world cruises



Brandee Lake’s home address changes nearly every day.

The 46-year-old boarded Royal Caribbean International’s Ultimate World Cruise in December and will live on the line’s Serenade of the Seas for the nine-month journey.

Lake, who previously lived in Los Angeles, California, gave up her apartment and left a job in advertising and marketing to travel full-time, embarking on a 274-night sailing to more than 60 countries alongside her sister and parents.

“I always tease that I only worked to travel anyway, that I worked to support my travel habit,” she told USA TODAY. “So, to me, it was a no-brainer.”

Lake, who had already visited 77 countries and lived abroad, decided to set sail and see even more of the world, and her parents gifted the cruise to her and her sister.

Videos about the Ultimate World Cruise proliferated on TikTok following its departure from Miami, but it’s not the first cruise of its kind. World cruises offer passengers an easy way to travel the globe, delivering them to a range of far-flung destinations.

But there’s more to booking those trips than other kinds of cruises. Here’s what to know.

What are world cruises?

World cruises visit multiple continents, usually no less than three. The itineraries last between three and five months on average but can be longer, according to Joanna Kuther, a travel agent and owner of Port Side Travel Consultants.

“You’re in your room, and that’s where you’re going to be the whole time, and you’re not flying around and packing and unpacking,” she said. While at a resort, guests might meet one another in passing, world cruise passengers are on the same itinerary for an extended period, which Kuther said can be “such a bonding experience.”

“I mean, I guess it could go sideways if it was horrible people,” she said. “But I think people usually find their people.”

For travelers who can’t – or would rather not – spend so much time at sea, many cruise lines also sell segments of those itineraries separately. That allows guests to embark for days, weeks, or months at a time and adds new faces to the mix.

World cruises also often take place on older ships, particularly on mainstream lines. “I don’t think they’d want one of their newest ships out of commission for months,” Kuther added.

How do cruise lines plan world cruises?

Mapping out so many months at sea can take years. Luxury line Silversea Cruises, for example, plans its world cruises three to four years in advance, according to spokesperson Brad Ball.

“Silversea has a team of destination experts that select destinations that are unique and culturally diverse,” he said in an email. The line, also part of Royal Caribbean Group, sailed its first world cruise in 2007 and works to create destination themes and make segments distinct.

Silversea’s 140-day The Curious and the Sea voyage aboard Silver Dawn in 2026, for example, features a 28-day exploration of French Polynesia and the South Pacific, a semi-circumnavigation of Australia over 21 days and more.

“We try to provision food items locally and source goods from the different regions we travel to as much as possible,” Ball added.

Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said the cruise line took great pains to anticipate guests’ needs on the Ultimate World Cruise, even putting a dentist on board.

The line also threw a gala dinner for guests before they departed. “I said, ‘The only one thing that we’ve failed to do, and I apologize now, is we failed to put a marriage counselor on board,’ ” he said during a press briefing last month on the line’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

When should I book a world cruise?

Many cruise lines offer only one world cruise a year, and staterooms go fast. Michael Bray, owner of Braycation Travel, likened it to a “a really cool house coming on the market.”

“The suites or larger cabins could go the fastest because folks want space,” he added. Bray said his clients have booked between one-and-a-half to two-a-half years out.

“People know they have to plan to be with their homes for six months,” Bray said. “They’ve got to shut down their homes. You’ve got to figure out medications, mail, family, so this is not a shoot-from-the-hip decision.”

Lake, the Ultimate World Cruise passenger, said she stored some of her belongings with a friend and packed the rest of what she needed.

Tips for taking a long cruise: What to know about sailing for 6 months or more

World cruises from lines like Cunard Line have long been popular, Kuther noted, but in recent years, more brands have leaned.

Royal Caribbean’s nine-month sailing is its first foray into the category, and Azamara is currently sailing its first world voyage since becoming an independent cruise line in 2021. Princess Cruises, which operated its first world cruise in 2008, also plans to sail its longest voyage ever (116 days) in 2025.

Kuther attributed that to a rise in remote-friendly jobs like content creation, particularly among younger people. “This ability to travel and work from wherever you are has opened up such a younger demographic and also more demand,” she said.

Ball at Silversea echoed that. “Over the past 15 years, we have seen increased demand for World Cruises, both from retired travelers as well as from working professionals and digital nomads,” he said. “Due to the advance of improved cell phone connectivity technology and onboard internet, more travelers are able to work remotely and better able to take longer voyages.”

How much do world cruises cost?

Starting prices for world cruises on mainstream lines can range from around $25,000 per person to $60,000 depending on the length, Kuther said. Luxury world cruises are likely to cost upwards of $70,000.

Those prices will also likely include more than a typical cruise fare.

The fare for the entire Ultimate World Cruise – which started at around $54,000 for the full nine months – included gratuities, business class flights, Wi-Fi, wash-and-fold laundry service and more, according to Royal Caribbean’s website.

Luxury lines, which already bundle more costs with their base fares, may throw in extras, too. Ball said travelers who book Silversea’s 2026 world cruise get $1,000 in onboard credit per person (up to $2,000 per suite), a spa treatment and other amenities.

For Lake, the trip is a chance to see new places – like Antarctica, which she “always wanted to do” but never thought she would – while spending quality time with family. No matter where they are in the world, she has a family dinner with her parents and sister every night.

“I think it’s something that I’ll look back on and never forget,” she said.

As for work after the cruise, she has no definitive plans, but has been posting about the trip on TikTok and is “enjoying the creator space.”

“I am seeing where this adventure and the world takes me,” Lake said.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at

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