A 9-Month Cruise is TikTok’s new favorite “reality show.”

In recent months, Beth Fletcher, a 39-year-old photographer from Derbyshire, England, has built a small following on TikTok by recapping and analyzing the British reality show “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” When the final season concluded in early December, Ms. Fletcher was low on content because, she said, “we won’t have another good reality TV show until the summer.”

So the TikTok algorithm provided: a video by Brooklyn Schwetje, graduate student and influencer, sharing a day in her life on the Ultimate world cruise, a nine-month round-the-world voyage with Royal Caribbean. Mrs. Fletcher was immediately enraptured. “I’ve never been on a cruise and the idea of ​​a nine-month cruise blew my mind,” she said. After finding more videos from other cruise passengers, something clicked: “Maybe this is our reality show, but better.”

Since the ship launched from Miami on Dec. 10, TikTok has been flooded with posts from shore-based voyeurs, analyzing videos shared by cruise passengers and speculating on the ship’s potential as a floating arena for high-octane drama. Some are declaring it a “nine-month TikTok reality show,” with passengers becoming inadvertent celebrities.

Videos with the hashtag #UltimateWorldCruise have had more than 138 million views on the social media app.

This isn’t the first time TikTok creators, competing for views with millions of other accounts, have lifted videos posted by others to create their own genre of online reality TV. In 2021, the University of Alabama sorority rush became an Internet fixation known as #BamaRush (and, eventually, a Max documentary). But just like in reality TV, the truth behind the content may seem beyond question.

With a 274-night itinerary, the Ultimate World Cruise is the longest cruise ever offered by Royal Caribbean. Fares for the full voyage — which stops in 65 countries — start at $53,999 per person and can go up to $117,599, excluding taxes and fees, according to Royal Caribbean. website. The ship, called Serenade of the Seasit has a capacity of 2,476 guests, although a Royal Caribbean representative did not confirm how many are currently on board.

From England, Mrs Fletcher started posting videos of himself talking about the cruise, introducing passengers he identified through their TikTok accounts as “cast members,” and sharing tidbits about their life aboard the ship gleaned from their videos.

Other accounts dedicated to cruising have emerged: A creator calls herself TikTok’s “sea tea” director, updating her followers with “breaking news” (claiming that someone had left the cruiseand another had it tested positive for the coronavirus). Another TikToker created a virtual bingo card with predictions such as “little neighbor drama,” “marriage,” “illegal” and “pirate takeover.” The bingo card video has garnered more than 300,000 views and hundreds of comments like: “This is the new Hunger Games” and “This must be a social experiment.”

Ryan Holland, a 28 year old publication regularly about cruising, he says people are “curious about how they can afford it” and “how they can handle being on a boat for so long.” He sees two possible outcomes for trend setting. It either “extincts,” she said, “or it changes the future of reality TV.”

An unlikely star of #cruisetok is Joe Martucci, a 67-year-old recent retiree from St. Cloud, Florida, serving from the ship with the handle @spendingourkidsmoney. Mr. Martucci’s four children encouraged him to post video updates on TikTok, which he had never used before. His first video has nearly half a million views.

“We’re not trying to get famous,” said Mr. Martucci, who now posts daily with his wife, calling himself “Cruise Mum & Dad” and opening each video with a cheeky “Hi guys.”

Martucci, who now has more than 69,000 followers on TikTok, says the attention is mostly positive, but he worries about fan accounts dedicated to cooking up drama. “I think they’re trying to produce something,” he said. “I’m there for the opinions and the followers.”

Another passenger, Lindsay Wilson, a 32-year-old teacher from Phoenix, said the attention “was very, very strange.” She and some of the other passengers who have amassed new followers on TikTok have since connected in person and talk via group chats about their celebrity overnight.

Except for a few complaints As to whether passengers of different customer levels are treated unequally, little real drama has yet to emerge. One exception, however, was a video (currently with 2.5 million views) posted on December 17 by Brandee Lake, a Black content creator and cruise passenger who said she was mistaken for a crew member, once by a passenger and once once by a staff member. Neither Ms Lake nor Royal Caribbean confirmed they had been in contact regarding the matter.

Despite TikTok’s fixation on cruising (and hoping for drama), most video arriving from Serenade of the Seas was more banal than compelling. Ms. Lake described a typical day at the beach: Zumba class, breakfast, coffee at Café Latte-tudes and an activity like doing a team puzzle or building gingerbread houses. After dinner she will occasionally participate in evening programming, such as a silent disco, but usually retreats to his room. “I’m trying to figure out where this drama is,” Ms. Lake said. “What am I missing?”

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