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ATLANTA — It would've been unthinkable 12 months ago as the cruise industry reeled from the effects of COVID-19, but one operator is now offering an epic new voyage that will last nine months and take travelers to more than 150 destinations.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Serenade of the Seas is set to commence sailing in December 2023 from Miami, sailing for 274 nights before returning to Florida in September 2024.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean International president Michael Bayley said the trip — dubbed "The Ultimate World Cruise" — is designed to help travel-starved cruisers "make up for lost time."
Voyaging the globe
Serenade of the Seas has been a stalwart of the RCCL fleet since 2003. The 965-foot long ship has 13 decks and can accommodate up to 2,476 guests, according to Royal Caribbean's website.
Upon leaving Miami on the world cruise in late 2023, the vessel is set to travel around the Caribbean, before scheduled stop-offs in Central and South America, including trips to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro and Argentina's Iguazu Falls.
Also on the globe-spanning itinerary are landmarks including the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza.
Travelers can book the full nine-month experience, or schedule a specific chunk of the trip and just join for the Americas and Antarctica, for example.
Royal Caribbean told CNN Travel the price range for the full excursion is between $66,000 to $112,000 per person, plus taxes and fees.
World cruises were a staple of the cruise scene pre-pandemic, but usually topped out at 150 days or so.
Viking Cruises scheduled a 245-day trip from August 2019 to May 2020 on board Viking Sun, but this voyage was cut short when COVID-19 shut down the cruise industry in spring 2020.
In the wake of the pandemic, some round-the-world cruises opted to continue their monthslong voyages — just without any passenger stops — due to closed ports and increasing concerns around COVID-19.
Cruising has since recommenced in many markets, with cruise companies keen to prove a vacation at sea is a safe and viable holiday option.
It's still over two years until the Serenade of the Seas is set to embark on its globe-spanning trip, but travelers can reserve their cabins now.