Passengers on epic cruise sail into minor stardom

VALPARAISO, Chile — Passengers on a nine-month cruise have become unlikely stars on TikTok and Instagram, with thousands following their epic voyage and updates on daily life on board the Serenade of the Seas.

Wannabe cruisers have flocked to social media to follow the passengers’ adventures on Royal Caribbean’s “Ultimate World Cruise,” lapping up footage of sightseeing on the more than 60 country trip as well as the more banal details of life on board.

Nancy and Mike Jacobs, a couple from Michigan, in the United States, now have more than 63,000 followers on TikTok.

Their content ranges from a rough journey through the Drake Passage between Cape Horn and Antarctica to answering questions such as “How do you get prescriptions?”

“We’re micro famous, we’re not famous,” Nancy told Reuters onshore in Valparaiso, Chile.

“For us it’s the trip of a lifetime, but we did not know so many other people would be interested,” Mike said.

For those wondering about the prescriptions, Nancy has a nine-month supply for one and a paper prescription for the other that the medical facility on board supplies.

Posts like that, with the hashtag “ultimateworldcruise,” have clocked up over 360 million views on social media since it set sail from Miami on Dec. 10.

Laura Jackson, deputy head of travel at the Times and Sunday Times, said it was the mix of exotic locations and the mundane that was compelling — plus the speed and volume of the posts, with the advent of faster internet on board.

“We want to see people doing their laundry, we want to see people just sitting on deck having a nice time,” she said. “(It’s) basically no-drama drama.”

While the Jacobs now have tens of thousands of followers, some passengers were already content creators.

Amike Oosthuizen from South Africa, who has 285,000 followers on TikTok, posts about the places she is visiting, her make-up routine, and the food.

Tickets to see Machu Picchu in Peru, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the Great Wall of China in one trip did not come cheap, with prices starting at around $54,000.

Brandee Lake, a 46-year-old from Los Angeles who is on board with her family, called the experience “priceless.”

“The best part of a cruise is going to sleep and waking up in a new country,” she said. One of her videos has been viewed more than 2.7 million times so far.

Although the posts have been likened to reality TV, followers looking for the next Big Brother will be disappointed, the Jacobs say.

“It’s really not, it’s a group of people who love to travel, who love to meet new friends, to see the world,” Mike said. — Reuters