9-Month Cruise Passengers Officially Pick New Route After Middle East Unrest Canceled Plans: See the Winner

Passengers on the 'Serenade of the Seas' were asked to vote on their next destination, after Royal Caribbean decided to reroute the 9-month-long cruise due to conflicts in the Red Sea and Suez Canal

<p>Peter Bischoff/Getty</p>

Peter Bischoff/Getty

The passengers on the Serenade of the Seas have selected their new route after a tumultuous few weeks of uncertainty.

After Royal Caribbean announced earlier this month that its viral 9-month cruise would be forced to reroute due to the ongoing unrest in the Red Sea and Suez Canal, its passengers had a vote on what to do instead.

“We’re going to Africa!” cruise passenger and podcaster Brandee Lake confirmed in a TikTok post Thursday. “Excited was … the word that I had when I heard Captain Kjell come across the speaker system and say that ‘Itinerary 1: Immersive Africa’ was exactly what was gonna happen for the Serenade of the Seas.”

In celebration of the reveal that The Ultimate World Cruise was indeed going to make several stops around the continent and surrounding islands, Lake showed off her “African outfit,” featuring flowing pants and a white and blue print. She also gave the Serenade of the Seas’ African crew members a chance to shine, showing off their dance moves and including flag emojis for each of their home countries — including those of Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa.

“Less than 5 minutes after the announcement, I changed into my African outfit and danced my way through the ship ALL DAY LONG with my African brothers and sisters who work on the ship,” she said. “I also had a dance lesson with a fellow passenger, Auntie, and learned a few moves from Jamaicans on board as well.”

“What an AMAZING way to close out #blackhistorymonth!” she finished her caption.

Related: 9-Month Cruise Passenger Reveals Details of 2 Options Cruisers Will Vote On After Forced Rerouting (Exclusive)



Lake previously broke down the two options passengers would vote between for PEOPLE.

The first was “Immersive Africa," which includes stops in Senegal and Ghana, plus nearby islands including the Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius. However, this choice excludes some previously planned stops in Turkey and a long stay in Greece.

The second route that guests could vote for included more time Egypt, Turkey, and Greece — closer to the ship’s original itinerary — but involved many more days at sea in order to navigate around Africa as quickly as possible, Lake said previously.

The 160-destination voyage left from Miami nearly three months ago and has already traveled through multiple parts of the Americas, including Brazil, Argentina and Peru, and is set to end on Sept. 10, 2024. The next leg of the cruise in Asia will go on as planned.

Related: Royal Caribbean Confirms It's 'Reviewing Alternative' Routes for 9-Month Cruise Due to Middle East Unrest

Suez Canal (c) Linda Garrison Small Village on the Suez Canal
Suez Canal (c) Linda Garrison Small Village on the Suez Canal

The news of a major itinerary change first came on Feb. 9, when The Ultimate World Cruise responded to rumors about rerouting its third leg — which was set to head for the Middle East and Mediterranean in May — due to the conflict in Israel and Palestine, issues in the Suez Canal and U.S. military activity in Yemen.

“The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and we are monitoring what is taking place in and around the Red Sea,” Royal Caribbean told PEOPLE at the time.

The Ultimate World Cruise — which went viral on TikTok when it embarked on its long journey in December 2023 — has had its fair share of ups and downs since the beginning of the month. Rough seas canceled several planned ports of call around South America, and unrest in certain areas of South America forced Royal Caribbean to skip others. On Feb. 12, reports began to circulate online that the cruise had had its first death. World cruiser and content creator Adita, who goes by @aditaml2759 on TikTok, confirmed the news.

Related: Royal Caribbean Confirms Death of Passenger on 9-Month World Cruise

"Some sad news," she said on TikTok while the ship was docked in Los Angeles. "We had our first death on the Ultimate World Cruise. A lady passed away last night. She was an elderly lady, and the reason why I know is because I was coming to my room when they were taking the body out."

"I'm thinking it was probably a heart attack. But I don't have much news other than it was a female elderly patient, or guest, that passed away," she continued, adding that it was "very, very sad" to have witnessed.

Royal Caribbean confirmed her report to PEOPLE shortly afterwards, writing in a statement that “A guest sailing onboard Serenade of the Seas has sadly passed away.”

“We are actively providing support and assistance to the guest's loved ones at this time. Out of the privacy of the guest and their family, we have nothing further to share at this time," the statement read.

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