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Passenger dies aboard 9-month cruise, Royal Caribbean confirms

A passenger has died aboard Royal Caribbean’s nine-month world cruise, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

“A guest sailing on board Serenade of the Seas has sadly passed away,” the statement said. “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.”

Royal Caribbean did not release additional details on the passenger.

“First, some sad news. We had our first death on the Ultimate World Cruise,” a passenger who goes by Adita said in a TikTok video. “She was an elderly lady. The reason why I know is because I was coming to my room when they were taking the body out. So very, very sad for me because I was there to watch.”

The original video has been removed, but it was posted in a report from a cruise watcher who described the update as “Ultimate World Cruise Tea Time Depressing Edition.”

The company did not confirm that it was the first death during the voyage, which set sail in December. Official statistics on the number of people who die on a cruise are not made public, but a 2020 study in the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health found that there were 623 reported deaths aboard 78 ocean and river cruise lines between 2000 and 2019. Excluding suicides, the leading causes of passenger deaths were shown to be unspecified natural causes, cardiac incidents and falling overboard or onto lower decks.

For months, Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise has captivated the public like a social media reality show, with reports on storms, coronavirus outbreaks, canceled port calls and interpersonal drama.

The itinerary on the nine-month expedition includes 65 countries across every continent. Dozens of TikTok accounts have popped up to document the cruise. Some are run by a few of the 600-something travelers staying on board; others are spectators on land.

Spencer Aronfeld, an attorney who sues cruise lines and posts cruise content on TikTok, recorded a video about the death.

“People die and people die on cruises,” he said. “And it’s not always as a result of some foul play or accident. That’s why cruise ships have onboard morgues that can have a capacity sometimes up to six to 12 bodies.”

He said the medical care available on a ship is limited, and it can be difficult and expensive to transfer a sick passenger to land.

“It is important before you go on any cruise, no matter what the duration, to make sure that you are physically fit to sail,” he said.

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