Published1 day ago
Imagine setting sail on a very long cruise and ending up with loads of TikTok users following your holiday.
If you’ve spent time on your For You Page, you might recognise some of the people on a nine-month around-the-world trip.
It’s been advertised as the “most epic world cruise to ever set sail”, aiming to travel to more than 60 countries across all seven continents.
Videos under the hashtag #ultimateworldcruise have been viewed more than 353 million times on TikTok.
“It’s wild to me that people really find our lives so interesting,” says Brandee Lake, who is on the ship with her parents and sister.
“Because we just came on a vacation,” she tells the BBC’s Reliable Sauce podcast.
If a trip to so many countries sounds expensive, that’s because it is – with the cheapest ticket costing nearly $59,000 (£46,000) per person.
Brandee, from Los Angeles, California, says she was only able to afford the holiday by taking “a living inheritance” from her parents.
Despite the price tag it’s still packed with passengers, with those on the trip recording their journey online, including Brandee who has racked up 183,000 followers.
And it started to spiral when other accounts, not on the ship, started documenting the “drama” on board, like a reality show.
“When people started making videos about us is when it started to get really strange,” says fellow cruiser Angela Linderman, who has 182,000 followers.
“And I think now that we’ve had a few more weeks to digest it, it’s still strange when you start to think about it too much.
“But especially at [the start], it was like, oh, my gosh, people are doing videos about us,” says Angela, originally from Portland, Oregon.
The online interest has also had an impact on the ship itself, with Brandee saying she couldn’t get her braids done at the salon.
But thanks to comments from followers, there’s now a stylist on the ship for black hair, Brandee says.
“People in TikTok land and social media have put enough pressure on for people to see the importance of being inclusive in their offerings,” she says.
“I really give credit to the people out there who are watching, who have also commented, tagged and let them know that this is really something that they should offer, not only for nine months.”
Cruise company Royal Caribbean have not responded to the BBC’s request for comment.
What’s true, and what’s not?
There has also been lots of theories about the journey circulating online.
One of the rumours is the trip ending early due to tensions in the Middle East.
“The itinerary has changed at least two, maybe three times, due to unrest around the world,” Brandee says.
But she says the tour is not ending prematurely, just changing course.
“We were originally [supposed to go] to Russia and Ukraine. Obviously we’re not going there. And then we were going to go to Israel, and we’re [now] not going there.
There was also talk of someone becoming pregnant on board, but Brandee says that person “was already pregnant” and “planned their vacation around it”.
And while you might be wondering what eating on a ship every day is like, Brandee says the food “is tasty” and there is actually plenty for everyone.
“It’s hard to mass produce food for this many people. But every day I’ll say that I can find something that I like.”
With the amount of followers people on the cruise are getting, influencers are now also joining the trip for short stints.
“It feels like a choose your own adventure where we are in the book and people are choosing people to parachute into our trip for these mini-segments,” Angela adds.