The highly anticipated Life at Sea Cruises’ three-year residential cruise has been canceled after numerous delays. Booked guests endured weeks of silence, followed by troubling updates regarding the company’s inability to secure a ship.
Life at Sea Cruises, operated by Miray Cruises, had banked on purchasing the AIDAAura cruise ship, but that fell through after Greek line Celestyal recently acquired it. That news left Life at Sea Cruises with no other Plan B.
Launch Date Pushed Back Multiple Times
Initially slated to set sail from Istanbul on November 1, the voyage was pushed back ten days and further delayed with another revised launch date next week. It also changed to a new departure port of Amsterdam.
The company now says it will refund guests who reserved a condo but will repay their money in installments starting next month through February 2024.
Over 100 had signed up for the three-year voyage at prices amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. Some have been in Istanbul since early November, before the original launch date.
Some customers reported selling their homes or businesses to travel the world for three years, leaving them without a place to go.
The company has offered to pay for accommodation until December 1 and provide flights home for those stranded in Istanbul. “There’s a whole lot of people right now with nowhere to go, and some need their refund to even plan a place to go – it’s not good right now,” one customer said.
Investment Dried Up
Vedat Ugurlu, owner of Miray Cruises, was “extremely sorry for the inconvenience.” He claimed investors “declined to support us further due to unrest in the Middle East.”
Kendra Holmes, the former CEO of Life at Sea Cruises, left the company and joined a new start-up HLC Cruises, that also doesn’t own a ship.
The company owns MV Gemini’s cruise ship but deemed it too small and unsuitable for a years-long semi-permanent round-the-world voyage.
The company’s website listed the starting price of $196,000 per individual and $231,000 per couple for the most affordable packages.