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9-Month Cruise Confirms Its First Death: "Very, Very Sad"

A passenger has passed away on the 160-destination voyage.

For many adventure seekers, cruises are the best way to explore multiple destinations in one trip. Sailing on the high seas can be a stress-free mode of transportation that is otherwise hard to find when planning a multi-city itinerary. But even state-of-the-art cruise ships like the Serenade of the Seas are not immune to pitfalls, even including death. In a statement shared with People, Royal Caribbean confirmed that one of its passengers on the nine-month-long Ultimate World Cruise has died.

RELATED: 9-Month Cruise Passenger Reveals What You're "Not Allowed to Talk About" Onboard.

Serenade of the Seas was about two months into its voyage—which will take travelers to parts of Brazil, Asia, Newfoundland, the Italian coast, and more–when the passenger passed. The vessel had just docked in Los Angeles after departing Ensenada, Mexico the day prior, according to its online schedule.

"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 company said in a Feb. 12 statement to People.

The sad news first broke on TikTok after Ultimate World Cruise passenger Adita (@aditaml2759) shared in a video that Serenade of the Seas "had its first death." Her video has since been deleted, but it was stitched by another user who captioned the news "Ultimate World Cruise Tea Time Depressing Edition."

"First is some sad news: We had our first death on the Ultimate World Cruise," Adita told followers on TikTok. "Likely, she 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."

As for the cause of death, Adita noted that she didn't have much news to share other than the guest was "elderly" and that she believed "it was probably a heart attack." Nevertheless, Adita said she was shaken by the scene.

"It's very, very sad for me because I was there to watch," she said.


DAY 64 – Part 1 | A passenger passed away on the Ultimate World Cruise, as reported by @Adita. | No official info on the cause or identity of the passenger. | My condolences go out to the family and friends of the passenger. | #UltimateWorldCruise #SerenadeOfTheSeas #WorldCruiseTok #9MonthCruise #9MonthWorldCruise #UltimateWorldCruiseBingo #WorldCruise #AroundTheWorldCruise #Cruise | 9 Month Ultimate World Cruise 2024

♬ original sound – John Stennett 🇺🇸🇺🇦🏳️‍🌈

Royal Caribbean didn't share the passenger's identity or the circumstances of death, but Adita noted in the comments that the deceased was "a solo guest."

As unfortunate as the news is, vessels are equipped to handle such situations.

"Each ship has a morgue as well as body bags," Michelle Endo, a former cruise ship employee of three years and author of the travel blog Wander Eat Write, previously told Best Life. "Many elderly passengers cruise knowing they're at the end of their life and choose to live on cruise ships as it's cheaper than living on land. This does, however, mean that onboard deaths occur and ships need to be prepared."

According to The Washington Post, the number of deaths on cruises is not made public. However, from 2000 to 2019, there were 623 reported deaths aboard 78 ocean and river cruise lines, per a 2020 study in the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health.

Of those who were passengers, 29 percent of deaths happened on Carnival Cruise Lines and 12 percent on Royal Caribbean Cruises. Falling overboard or onto lower decks, cardiac incidents, and suicide were the main three circumstances of death among passengers.

The Ultimate World Cruise embarked on its 160-destination voyage on Dec. 10, 2023, and will sail around the world through Sept. 10.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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