You understand a social media occasion has actually gone viral when it transcends the platform and makes world headlines — and much more so when it will get its personal subreddit, too.
Final 12 months, it was the private chefs of the Hamptons — in 2024, it’s the #UltimateWorldCruise that has taken over TikTok.
What makes this explicit cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas distinctive is that it lasts a staggering 9 months. Over 274 nights, the ship will make port in over 60 international locations, with some 700 passengers booked to remain on board for the journey.
Even studying that paragraph has most likely left you with questions. How do you pack for 9 months? How large are the rooms? What’s the meals like? How a lot did it value?
I stumbled upon one creator, one other South African, Amike Oosthuizen, in between the predictable mixture of health, productiveness, and BookTok content material on my For You Page late final 12 months, which sparked a journey down a number of TikTok rabbit holes. Now, I’m the proud follower of just about all of the creators on board — and an FYP that’s nearly solely cruise-related. (Miss you, BookTok.)
However I’m not mad about it. If I can’t journey to each continent on earth and reside in a tiny cabin for 9 months, at the least I can reside vicariously by means of the oldsters who can.
I’m not the one one who feels this fashion. The CruiseTok creators’ following counts vary from a few thousand to nicely over 200K. They’ve spawned a cottage business of non-passenger creators curating and reporting on their content material and even featured in scores of stories shops, together with TIME, The New York Times, and Vox.
Whereas consuming my every day repair of cruise content material, it occurred to me that there are classes to be discovered from the TikTokers, who’ve rocketed to social media success (and web fame) in a matter of weeks.
I poured over hours of #UltimateWorldCruise content material on TikTok and past and managed to talk on to a few them through e mail, WhatsApp voice notes, and Zoom calls (cruise wifi is pricey, so we saved the digicam off on that one).
Listed below are 9 precious classes from (and a glance behind the scenes at) the CruiseTok phenomenon.
1. The identical content material can yield very completely different outcomes on new platforms
A number of of the most-followed CruiseTok creators solely joined TikTok whereas on the cruise. However lots of them had been lively on different platforms first.
Dr Jenny Hunnicut, proprietor and founding father of Hunnicutt Writing & Consulting (higher often called @drjennytravels), had been documenting her adventures on Instagram and Fb for a number of years earlier than the cruise. She and her husband journey full-time whereas working remotely.
After seeing different creators gaining traction on TikTok with their cruise content material, she rapidly jumped on the short-form video platform to begin creating there, too. “I’ve been posting about this cruise for two years on Instagram and Fb,” she instructed me with fun.
The journey vlogs she creates on TikTok now aren’t all that completely different from what she’s been doing on Instagram, the place she has over 8K followers. However, due to the virality of the cruise on TikTok, she’s grown to 138K followers on the platform in beneath two months.
Mike and Nancy, self-proclaimed empty nesters, have been creating YouTube movies on their channel, Living Phase 2, since February 2022. A few of their pre-world cruise movies (protecting all the things from Nancy’s sleep apnea to journey) have amassed greater than 50K views.
Additionally they began creating on TikTok (@livingphase2) once they noticed different creators gaining traction there. Now, lots of their TikToks boast over 100K views (the one beneath has 5.6 million).
@livingphase2 Rocky seas. Weathering by means of the Drake Passage #UltimateWorldCruise #RoyalCaribbeanWorldCruise #RoyalCaribbeanUltimateWorldCruise #SerenadeOfTheSeas #CruiseTalk #RoyalCaribbean #uwc #LivingPhase2 #fyp #cruising #drakepassage ♬ original sound – MikeandNancyLP2
“We had been extraordinarily stunned how a lot curiosity has taken place relating to this cruise,” Nancy instructed me. “We had no thought, and this has been a completely new dynamic we’ve needed to navigate. I believe it’s because that is the longest world cruise, and persons are and fascinated by how we are able to reside away from our houses for such a very long time.”
Why has this exploded on TikTok greater than different social media platforms? Jenny reckons it might need one thing to do with the thought of a cruise — a type of journey you may affiliate with an older demographic — being so overseas and engaging to TikTok’s Gen Z viewers.
Amike Oosthuizen (@amikeoosthuizen) thinks it has extra to do with the very fact that there have been merely extra creators protecting the cruise on there — however she did add that she feels TikTok customers appear to be extra hungry for ‘drama.’
@amikeoosthuizen Spend the morning with us in Antarctica! ❄️📍🥶 #tavel #cruise #antarctica #ultimateworldcruise #worldcruise #worldcruise2023 #SAMA28 #royalcaribbean #viral #cruisetok #fyp #antarctica #drakepassage #snow ♬ original sound – amikeoosthuizen
“TikTok is such a novel place the place folks like drama-type content material — and many individuals thought the cruise was like a actuality present — which it clearly shouldn’t be.”
Jenny plans to maintain all three of her platforms lively — since you by no means know what content material will resonate the place she says — although she is aware of she must experiment together with her work on Instagram and Fb.
“I’ve solely had the bandwidth to take what I am placing on TikTok and put it on Instagram and Fb. However I notice I have to transition that just a little bit as a result of it does not carry out the identical.”
2. A viral second can evolve however doesn’t final
After the preliminary explosion of curiosity because the cruise departed, some creators seen their video views had been dipping.
“The virality of this has began to taper down some already,” Jenny instructed me. “I believe it has transitioned from a large viewers to those who are actually just a little extra invested in my content material.”
She additionally thinks the recap accounts (extra on this beneath) might need one thing to do with the drop-off. “They’ve grown considerably — and we love a few of them on board; we discuss to them in our DMs.”
“However I believe what’s most likely occurred is persons are simply watching the recaps as a result of these accounts are making some nice content material about it. I believe persons are not coming to my web page instantly as a result of they’re seeing it on a recap.”
One other CruiseTok favourite, Anthony Antoine (@anthonyantoine1021), a full-time traveler who added greater than 66K followers to his already substantial viewers since embarking on the cruise, shared extra about his plan to take care of momentum with me.
@anthonyantoine1021 Extra penguins & dolphins on #ultimateworldcruise #royalcaribbeanultimateworldcruise #ushuaia #ushuaiaargentina #worldcruisetiktok #anthonyantoine #ushuaia🇦🇷 ♬ original sound – kardashianshulu
“Earlier than the cruise, I used to be extra spontaneous,” he mentioned. “Now, I’ve been just a little extra strategic, paying extra consideration to what works, the best times to post on TikTok, and who to collaborate with.”
He hopes to construct sufficient belief together with his viewers to deliver them alongside for the experience on some tasks he has lined up post-cruise — together with a CD, a guide, a screenplay, and his non-profit group, the Michael-Anthony Foundation.
“I’ll develop this technique, selling this stuff because the cruise unfolds, hoping my new followers come alongside for the experience. I would like of us invested in different facets of who I’m and what I’ve to supply, and I am hoping to proceed to encourage on social media.”
Who says you could be an lively participant in a viral occasion to create content material about it?
Fanning the CruiseTok flames have been dozens of TikTokers reporting on the creators on board. Tapping into easy-to-use TikTok options like Stitches, Remixes, and greenscreen filters, loads of them create recaps and summaries which have made it straightforward to maintain updated with the every day goings-on.
My favourite is @nchimad, self-appointed “SeaTea Director,” who sums up the worldwide fascination on this clip (with 4 million views) beneath: “This type of appears like a social experiment. Trigger, like, why would you wish to be on the water for 9 months? I could not have the ability to deal with it, however I’m going to reside vicariously by means of the individuals who can.”
@nchimad I’m staying on cruisetok for the following 9 months😂 I wish to see all the things!! #royalcaribbeancruise #9monthcruise #whewchile #oceano #fyp #foryourpage ♬ original sound – ✨SeaTea Director, ND✨
She additionally did a fantastic job answering folks’s burning questions early on, like the price of the entire journey (costs began at simply over $50,000 per particular person, for what it’s price).
All it could have taken was a fast Google search to uncover this information, however due to TikTok changing into Gen Z’s search engine of selection (and TikTok SEO), nchimad was the highest search consequence.
@nchimad Replying to @user0986584638 #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen Listed below are some particulars about Royal Caribbean’s Final World Cruise! For all the things you get, the value isn’t unhealthy….however I nonetheless can’t do it🤣🤣 #royalcaribbean #ultimateworldcruise #cruisetok #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound – ✨SeaTea Director, ND✨
It’s additionally fascinating to see how curators like these have formed the narrative from 1000’s of miles away. Pamela Wurst Vetrini (@pamelawurstvetrini) was one of many first to pose the thought of a ‘fake reality show,’ one thing the creators on board have leaned into in some (delightfully cringe) movies.
@amikeoosthuizen Made some new mates!! 🥰🛳️ #SAMA28 #ultimateworldcruise #worldcruise #royalcaribbean #foryoupage #foryou #travel #cruisetok ♬ original sound – amikeoosthuizen
One other stand-out curator is Kara Harms (@whimsysoul), who created an Final World Cruise bingo card that CruiseTok followers liked, spiking her already sizeable following.
@whimsysoul Final World Cruise Bingo Card!!! who’s taking part in with me? 🛥️ 🌊 🌍 🍿 #ultimateworldcruise #royalcaribbean #worldcruise #cruise #bingo #travel #whimsysoul ♬ original sound – Kara
Austin Green, a YouTuber who covers information and web drama, additionally curated a (somewhat useful) recap of all the things that had occurred on the cruise to date in January — each on and off-board — which is a wonderful watch in case you’d like a fowl’s eye view. Be warned, although: it is greater than an hour lengthy!
4. Ask, and also you may obtain
One other TikTok commentator who jumped into the fray was in a position to form the narrative in a really vital approach. “Put me in! Put me on the cruise, I’ll go,” Marc Sebastian (@marcsebastianf) promised his followers, who had been hungry for a peek behind the curtains of CruiseTok.
Marc laid out his pitch publicly, detailing how a lot cash he’d have to cowl the price of an 18-night section. “If there’s a model on the market who would give me, say, seven grand, I’ll do three movies selling your product, together with filming all the things that occurs on that cruise.”
A few week later, Marc was packing his luggage for the ship, due to a sponsorship from Atria Books, and delivered on that promise.
@marcsebastianf #stitch with @Marc Sebastian subsequent time on survivor #ultimateworldcruise #worldcruise #royalcaribbean #realitytv #cruise #serenadeoftheseas #Uwc #royalcarribeancruise #drakepassage #antarctica ♬ original sound – Marc Sebastian
Over the course of just about three weeks, Marc uncovered the drama his followers had been after, however solely actually in regards to the buffet meals, onboard artwork, and among the different visitors who weren’t too impressed together with his sturdy language.
Inside days, he appeared to endear himself to each different creator onboard. He even hosted a scavenger hunt for them, with customized clues and significant prizes hidden all through the ship for all of them to trace down.
@drjennytravels Replying to @marcsebastianf 🥳 See what I discovered with the assistance of yall within the feedback, Sabrina @the.final.world.cruiser, and THE Marc Sebastian himself 👯♂️ #drjennytravels #ultimateworldcruise #worldcruisetok #cruisetok #9monthcruisedrama #9monthcruiseproblems #Serenadeoftheseas #9monthcruisetok #9monthcruise #drakepassage#9monthcruisedrama #9monthcruiseproblems ♬ original sound – drjennytravels
As a part of his settlement with Atria Books, he additionally ventured into BookTok, working a ballot about which of their books he ought to learn and even internet hosting a reside guide membership in Antarctica (with a few penguins in tow).
@marcsebastianf pending i’m not being thrown across the ship like a unfastened quater in a washer ❤️ love you very a lot @Atria Books and @Will Dean Creator 📚 #drakepassage #ultimateworldcruise #worldcruise #serenadeoftheseas #royalcaribbean #cruisetok #cruise #9monthcruise #marcreadsabook #booktok #books #penguin ♬ Murder On The Dancefloor – Sophie Ellis-Bextor
The partnership was unlikely however proved helpful for each — Marc garnered hundreds of thousands of views together with his irreverent cruise content material, and Atria Books earned the type of attain and engagement that may have value them way over $7,000 had they paid for adverts.
The way in which Marc put the request out on TikTok was genius. It earned him the help of followers clamoring for him to go and created a personality arc of types within the proverbial CruiseTok actuality present. He went in with a tongue-in-cheek promise of drama, positioning himself because the villain, and as a substitute emerged because the star of the present (for 18 days, at the least).
5. Niching down can work in a crowded market
I’m unsure if we may name such a small market saturated. Nonetheless, with all of the onboard creators staying in related cabins, doing the identical actions, and happening the identical port excursions, standing out on CruiseTok isn’t straightforward.
Skilled chef Sabrina Snyder is the brains behind Dinner Then Dessert, which solely covers the meals on board. As you’d anticipate, Sabrina’s tackle the meals passengers are served — primarily in a now-infamous buffet restaurant referred to as the Windjammer — is fascinating.
@dinnerthendessert Day 22 of 274 Craziest Buffet EVER New Yr’s Eve Final World Cruise 12/31/2023 Okay I believed at the moment was uncontrolled at that steakhouse. However this buffet…. That is undoubtedly the craziest buffet I’ve ever seen onboard. And the craziest two phrases of all of it… a BEEF STEAMSHIP. Insane. Simply insane. It felt like being in a Vegas buffet. #buffet #nye #newyearseve #food #ultimateworldcruise #9monthcruise #cruising #worldcruise #worldcruise2023 #serenadeoftheseas #cruise #royalcarribeancruise #royalcaribbeancruise ♬ original sound – Dinner then Dessert
She explains the ins and outs of eating on board, together with the difficult all-inclusive system and what it’s essential to pay further for (spoiler: somewhat so much).
Then there’s finances traveler Amazu, who shares how “common folks” managed to get on the nine-month cruise. In his unpolished movies, he shares how he booked the cruise in segments somewhat than the total package deal, which suggests he and his companions should disembark and get again on once more “consistently.”
@budgettraveler33 #Worldcruise #cheap #savemoney #royalcaribbean #rcl #ultimatecruise #price #cost #cheapcruises #cruisetips #regularpeople #workingclass #downsides #serenade #cruisecabin #booking #ship #ultimateworldcruise #ultimateworldcruise2023 ♬ original sound – Amazu
He’s additionally not afraid to publish the much less glamorous aspect of 9 months at sea, together with canceled ports, passport mishaps, and (sorry) hairs in meals.
6. With nice attain comes the potential for excellent negativity
With audiences this large, the creators have had loads of disagreeable feedback (and headlines) to take care of. “That is been just a little bit new for me as a result of I’ve been very lucky to not have gotten numerous unfavorable feedback on Fb and Instagram through the years,” Jenny says.
“However TikTok, that is a complete different story. There was numerous negativity. Thankfully, I am very assured myself, and I do not take these unfavorable feedback to coronary heart.”
She’s additionally been in a position to lean on different creators for help right here. “We met up very early on when all this began unfolding, and we simply vented to at least one one other about a few of that negativity or how we had been being portrayed. And so I believe that since we did that so early on, it is simply good to have mates on board who’re additionally going by means of this with me.”
7. Discovering help in your area of interest could be a gamechanger
With all the identical occasions and really related routines to cowl, you’d assume the CruiseTok creators could be fairly aggressive. However Jenny assures me they’re all changing into fairly shut.
“How usually do you ever get to be taught from each other like this? If I’ve a problem with a video, or I get some unfavorable feedback, or possibly I am having some hassle with monetization, I’ve about ten folks I can go to to ask for assist. That is been enormous.”
For Anthony, collaborating with different creators, each these on and off the ship, could be extremely helpful. His viewers has liked his collabs and requested for extra, he shared.
“Followers have actually given such mild to us for collaborating. And by doing so, you be taught from one another, too,” he provides.
@anthonyantoine1021 Day 29 was a GREAT Cruisng day on @Royal Caribbean #ultimateworldcruise A few of your favourite solid members met up & welcomed @Marc Sebastian on board @Brandee Lake @Shannon Marie @drjennytravels @Nadine Bower @joe @FrugalVagabond @Angie @Little Rat Mind @Brooklyn Schwetje @Madison Schwetje #royalcaribbeanultimateworldcruise #worldcruisetiktok #anthonyantoine ♬ original sound – Anthony Antoine
At Buffer, we’re inclined to agree — it’s an enormous a part of the explanation we arrange the Buffer Community, the place creators, social media managers, and small enterprise house owners can join with and be taught from one another. (We additionally host weekly #BufferChats on Threads on particular subjects, in case you’d wish to dip your toes into the water, first!)
8. Authenticity is crucial for achievement
I requested Jenny, Anthony, Amike, and Nancy for one piece of recommendation they’d give new content material creators, they usually agreed on one factor: social media success requires authenticity.
“We’ve discovered it’s so necessary to stay optimistic and to remain true to ourselves,” Nancy mentioned. “We don’t wish to slip and slide down the drama path simply to get clicks and views.”
Anthony identified that simply being on the cruise has not meant computerized virality for a lot of different passengers documenting their journeys — those that had been enjoyable and genuine are those who stood out.
“I consider that this ‘factor’ exploded for just a few key folks due to this bigger expertise, but it surely didn’t occur for everybody,” he says. “I consider most of those that did had been those that had been genuine of their approaches — and those that are having enjoyable.”
Jenny says letting go of the thought of the type of content material she felt she was “supposed” to create has been releasing. “I believe the most important lesson for me was staying true to myself and never making an attempt to place myself into some type of cookie cutter.”
“For instance, I let go of making an attempt to make these every day vlogs like another TikTokers [which she didn’t enjoy]. I simply began speaking to the digicam and simply taking that stress off myself. That is when my views began going loopy. And my following began going loopy. So I simply began speaking to the digicam, being myself, hoping to teach and encourage. And that is when it took off for me.”
@drjennytravels Actual time updates yall! 📢 The time has come.. SOONER than we had been anticipating! 😬 Get the seasickness cures prepared!!! 🤢 #drjennytravels #ultimateworldcruise #worldcruisetok #cruisetok #uwc #royalcaribbean #Serenadeoftheseas #royalcaribbeanworldcruise #9monthcruisetok #9monthcruise #9monthcruiseproblems ♬ original sound – drjennytravels
9. If you wish to succeed as a creator, don’t surrender
Like Jenny, Amike had been targeted on content material creation on Instagram for about two years and grew her following to a formidable 10K. However now, she has 125K followers on the platform and greater than double that on TikTok (285K). She says if this expertise has taught her something, it’s to maintain at it.
“I believe in case you actually do take pleasure in posting and social media, by no means surrender. You by no means know when your break goes to come back.”