Tuesday, March 5

A 9-Month Cruise Is TikTok’s Favorite New ‘Reality Show’

Over the past few months, Beth Fletcher, a 39-year-old photographer living in Derbyshire, England, has built a small following on TikTok by recapping and analyzing the British reality show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Out”. me from here! » When the final season ended in early December, Ms. Fletcher was running out of content because, she said, “we won’t have another good reality show until the summer.”

Then the TikTok algorithm delivered: a video by Brooklyn Schwetje, graduate student and influencer, sharing a day in her life on the Ultimate world cruise, a nine-month trip around the world with Royal Caribbean. Mrs Fletcher was instantly delighted. “I’ve never been on a cruise and the idea of ​​a nine-month cruise blew me away,” she said. After finding more videos from other passengers on the cruise, something clicked: “Maybe this is our own reality TV show, but better.” »

Since the ship’s launch from Miami on Dec. 10, TikTok has been flooded with posts from voyeurs on land, dissecting videos shared by cruise lines and speculating about the ship’s potential as a floating arena for high-profile drama. Some are calling it a “nine-month TikTok reality show,” in which passengers unwittingly become celebrities.

Videos with the hashtag #UltimateWorldCruise have been viewed more than 138 million times on the social media app.

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

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 go up to $117,599, excluding taxes and fees, according to Royal Caribbean. website. The ship, called the Serenade of the seashas a capacity of 2,476 guests, although a Royal Caribbean representative would not confirm how many there are currently on board.

From England, Mrs. Fletcher begin posting videos of her talking about the cruise, introducing passengers she identified through their TikTok accounts as “cast members” and sharing information about their lives on the ship gleaned from their videos.

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

Ryan Holland, 28 years old assignment Speaking regularly about cruising, he says people are “curious about how people can afford it” and “how people can stand to stay on a boat for that long.” She sees two possible outcomes for trend setting. Either “it dies out,” she said, “or it changes the future of reality TV.”

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

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

Mr. Martucci, who now has more than 69,000 followers on TikTok, says the attention has been mostly positive, but he worries about fan accounts dedicated to creating drama. “I think they’re trying to fabricate something,” he said. “They are there for the opinions and for the subscribers.”

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 amassed new followers on TikTok have since connected in person and speak via group chats about their overnight fame.

Apart from a few growl regarding the unequal treatment of passengers of different customer levels, few current dramas have yet to arise. One exception however was a video (currently at 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 another time by a member of staff. Neither Ms Lake nor Royal Caribbean confirmed whether they had been in contact about the matter.

Despite TikTok’s fixation on cruising (and hoping for drama), most videos future of the Serenade of the Seas was more banal than captivating. Ms. Lake described a typical day at sea: Zumba class, breakfast, coffee at Café Latte-tudes and an activity like doing a team puzzle or making gingerbread houses. After dinner, she will occasionally participate in the evening programming, like a silent disk, but generally she retires to her room. “I’m trying to understand where this drama is,” Ms. Lake said. “What am I missing?”

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