Passengers on 9-month Royal Caribbean cruise say they booked the same experience–but some people are getting special treatment

@uksecrettravel/TikTok Zigres/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘Clacissm? On MY elite world cruise?’: Passengers on 9-month Royal Caribbean cruise say they booked the same experience–but some people are getting special treatment

'You can't convince me that this isn't a social experiment.'


Grace Fowler


Posted on Jan 4, 2024   Updated on Jan 4, 2024, 5:44 pm CST

After embarking on their journey on Dec. 10, passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise have flooded TikTok with videos during the first month of their stay. Viewers have been eagerly following along, hoping for drama, and it seems they’ve finally gotten it. In a now-viral video, one woman says tensions are high aboard the ship because some passengers feel they’re being treated unfairly.

The Ultimate World Cruise is Royal Caribbean’s longest voyage thus far. The cruise began on Dec. 1, leaving from Miami, and is set to travel through more than 60 countries by its end on Sep. 10. 

TikTok creator UK Secret Travel (@uksecrettravel), otherwise referred to as “Tea Captain,” has posted a series of viral videos following along with the passengers of the Ultimate World Cruise.

In a recent viral video, the TikToker shared supposed “intel” that some guests are receiving preferential treatment. The clip—captioned “Ultimate world cruise guests are not happy!”—has received over 2.1 million views and 128,900 likes by the publication of this story.

The content creator starts her video by saying, “It’s tea time on the cruise, so I have got some gossip for you.”

She then says the first piece of intel she acquired is that Pinnacle members have been treated very differently from the rest of the guests on the ship. 

“Pinnacle” refers to the highest level of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program. The six membership tiers are (from lowest to highest) Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club.

Enrollment in the program is automatic, and passengers move through the tiers by earning Cruise Points, which translate to travel perks. Members earn one Cruise Point per night and get double points if they book a Suite. It takes three Cruise Points to reach Gold status and 700 to reach Pinnacle Club status.

The TikToker says that in 2022, when bookings for the trip first opened, passengers were told they could buy a ticket for the full nine-month tour or for one segment of the trip.

For example, the content creator says, “If someone wanted to get on in Miami, and do the Americas, and then do half of Asia, that wasn’t possible.” According to her, the passenger would have to choose between Asia and the Americas or pay for all four geographic segments of the trip.

The Serenade of the Seas “fits on 2,500 people at maximum capacity,” she says, but “this ship actually only has around 1,500 people right now because they haven’t sold out.” 

She adds that only 700 of the people onboard are staying for the whole nine-month journey.

UK Secret Travel says because of this, Royal Caribbean began to sell individual segments of the voyage for a lot cheaper, in fear the ship would not be full. She says this allowed passengers to cancel their original bookings and then rebook all the individual segments so they could go on the entire trip for significantly less money. Additionally, she says that passengers who were already members would keep their membership perks even if they rebooked the trip in segments to save money.

“But,” she adds, “where I’ve got my information from is a person who is not happy about what has been going on on the ship.” 

According to the TikToker, this specific passenger says that Pinnacle members are being treated completely differently than all other passengers. “They’ve been invited to meetings in town halls, which all the guests haven’t been invited to,” she says. “Things that are going on in these meetings are affecting the ship.” 

UK Secret Travel says that a week prior to her video, all Pinnacle members got to see the Northern Lights, but no other passengers were given the opportunity. “That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she says.

“You know, you spend a lot of money on a cruise, and you’re getting left out by the company who you’ve bought it off,” she adds. “So, I would not be very happy about that.” 

Next, she says many passengers, particularly “segmenters,” noticed the preferential treatment Platinum members and “world cruisers” were getting within the first 10 days of the voyage and got “pissed” about it.

One example of special treatment she cites is that Pinnacle members were allowed to board the ship immediately while other passengers allegedly had to wait three and a half hours to board. This may have been because Pinnacle Club members have a “Flexible boarding” perk exclusive to them, according to the Crown & Anchor member benefits.

She also says there are private parties for “high-status” members and several social media group chats that segmenters are being excluded from because they’re not doing the full trip.

The Crown & Anchor member benefits sheet lists several “exclusive” events as perks for members in the Platinum tier and above. However, it is unclear whether the alleged “town halls” and Northern Lights viewing are included in these perks.

“My source did arrange a meeting with senior staff but has heard nothing back from them to discuss these issues onboard,” UK Secret Travel continues.

The TikToker adds that there have already been “run-ins” on the ship, and people have left for medical reasons and other reasons unknown to her. Additionally, she says most passengers are “welcoming,” and only a “small percentage” try to assert themselves as “better” than others.

“So, to wrap up, a lot of segmenters on the cruise are really unhappy with how Royal Caribbean are handling the situation,” she says. “They’re treating the guests completely different when they’ve paid the same price.”

“Let’s just see how this pans out for the next nine months,” she concludes. 

@uksecrettravel Ultimate world cruise guests are not happy! #Ultimateworldcruise #royalcaribbean #royalcaribbeancruise #9monthcruise #cruisetok check @Nadine Bower ♬ original sound – UK Secret Travel📍🗺️ ✈️

One comment under UK Secret Travel’s video says, “Classism? On MY elite world cruise?? Never.” Another viewer responds to this comment, “It’s not classism. Pay more, get more.” 

One comment with over 14,000 likes suggests, “You can’t convince me that this isn’t a social experiment.” 

“White Lotus season 3- Cruise,” someone else responds.

In a follow-up video, UK Secret Travel compares the cabins of a Pinnacle member and a non-Pinnacle passenger who is also doing the full nine months.

@uksecrettravel So mysterious xx #royalcaribbean #Ultimateworldcruise #royalcaribbeancruise #9monthcruise #cruisetok ♬ original sound – UK Secret Travel📍🗺️ ✈️

The beginning of the video is from TikToker @calma_floral, who is a Pinnacle Club member. She says after hearing the controversy over how Pinnacle members are treated differently, she’s showing viewers her room to prove “it’s really not that different from what the other people are showing.”

In her video, viewers see a bed, couch, vanity, chair, and a balcony with a small table and seating for two.

Next, the video cuts to a TikTok posted by user @little_rat_brain. In the clip, viewers see that her room is windowless and visibly smaller than the Pinnacle Club passenger’s room. 

“Oh my god, them rooms are so similar,” UK Secret Travel jokes. “Like, you would never know the difference between a Pinnacle member and a non-Pinnacle member.”

In the comments section of this clip, viewers disagreed with UK Secret Travel’s opinion on the cruise. 

“I don’t get the drama it is like paying for first class on a plane,” one said.

“The rooms shouldn’t be similar for pinnacle members is first class and coach the same? No.” another wrote.

The Daily Dot reached out to UK Secret Travel via TikTok direct message and Royal Caribbean via email.

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*First Published: Jan 4, 2024, 9:00 pm CST