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Passengers who paid sold their homes and paid thousands for three-year cruise left with ‘nowhere to go’ after Life at Sea Cruises abruptly CANCELS their voyage – as they’re told they’ll be repaid in monthly installments

Admin By Admin Nov24,2023


Passengers who sold their homes and paid hundreds of thousands for a three-year cruise around the world have been left ‘with nowhere to go’ after the company behind the trip abruptly cancelled. 

Life at Sea Cruises customers had their dream trip stripped away less than two weeks before it was due to set sail after failing to secure funding for a vessel to take them.

The luxury cruise was originally due to leave Istanbul on November 1, before the departure date was changed to November 30 in Amsterdam.

But following weeks of uncertainty, passengers who have forked out up to $360,000 to secure cabins have been told they will not set sail as the company cannot afford to buy the boat promised.

Now furious customers who had already sold off their possessions or shipped them out to the vessel have been told they will only get their money back in monthly installments, CNN reports.

Cruise passengers who signed up for a three-year world cruise have been left devastated after the company pulled the plug on the trip  with less than two weeks to go

Life at Sea Cruises announced the voyage would not go ahead because it could not secure funding for a big enough vessel

Life at Sea Cruises announced the voyage would not go ahead because it could not secure funding for a big enough vessel

Customers had sold their homes and possessions in anticipation of the trip, which had seen some lay down up to $360,000 in deposits

Customers had sold their homes and possessions in anticipation of the trip, which had seen some lay down up to $360,000 in deposits

‘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 passenger, who wished to remain anonymous, told the outlet.

Others spoke of feeling ‘betrayed’ after being promised ‘a three year ultimate bucket list world cruise.’

‘The company seems to have no consideration about what they’ve done to our lives,’ one passenger said. ‘I never imagined I’d be in this position as a senior citizen.’

Another added: ‘I’m in a state of disbelief that they’ve done this to us.

‘I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the disappointment of losing this opportunity.

‘I don’t think they will ever understand how much damage they’ve caused us.’

More than 110 people had signed up for the journey, and only received notice it will not be going ahead on November 17.

Life at Sea’s former CEO Kendra Holmes told the 111 customers the trip had been cancelled and that any customers who had sent their possessions ahead would need to arrange to have them returned.

She resigned just days prior to making the announcement.

Vedat Ugurlu, the owner of Miray Cruises, which owns Life at Sea sent a similar message two days later saying he is ‘extremely sorry for the inconvenience’.

The cruise was due to depart from Amsterdam on November 30 following weeks of confusion

The cruise was due to depart from Amsterdam on November 30 following weeks of confusion

On November 17, passengers were informed their dream trip had been axed after the MV Lara, the proposed vessel for the journey, had been purchased by a rival company

On November 17, passengers were informed their dream trip had been axed after the MV Lara, the proposed vessel for the journey, had been purchased by a rival company

‘Miray is not such a big company to afford to pay 40-50 million for a ship,’ he said, before claiming the unrest in the Middle East meant his investors had  ‘declined to support us further’.

The voyage collapsed after the company failed to secure funding for the MV Lara, the proposed vessel for the trip and customers were initially told there were merely delays in the sale.

The swanky 666 foot liner boasts 627 cabins with room for up to 1266 passengers.

Would-be cruisers were promised ‘spacious living areas and modern amenities’ which have been specifically redesigned for long term residence and luxurious feel’.

The vessel features a bar, restaurants, a spa, gym, sun deck and pool. Activities advertised included dancing, karaoke, yoga and golfing among others.

However, on November 16 it emerged that Greek company Celestyal Cruises had snapped up the liner to add to its own fleet.

Life at Sea had previously proposed another vessel owned by Miray, MV Gemini, but it deemed it too small.

‘If we will not be able to sail on December 1, we will offer you to sail on another departure date or refund all the payments within a short schedule,’ Ugurlu wrote in an email to customers. 

‘We have tried everything to make your dreams come true and we will continue to do so.’

Passengers were promised the 'adventure of a lifetime' aboard the MV Lara as it travelled around 140 countries in 10095 days

Passengers were promised the ‘adventure of a lifetime’ aboard the MV Lara as it travelled around 140 countries in 10095 days

The swanky 666 foot liner boasts 627 cabins with room for up to 1266 passengers, with Life at Sea aiming for 80 percent occupancy

The swanky 666 foot liner boasts 627 cabins with room for up to 1266 passengers, with Life at Sea aiming for 80 percent occupancy

He added that MV Gemini could still be used in theory, but said: ‘We choose not to because we have promised you a larger, newer vessel.

MV Gemini is at the center of a defamation action after former managing director of Life at Sea Cruises, Mikael Petterson, allegedly called the 30-year-old vessel ‘unseaworthy’, which Miray denies.

In a statement to CNN, Urgu said: ‘While we’re in talks to acquire a similar vessel, if the December 1 sail is jeopardized, we offer alternative departure dates or expedited refunds,’ said the statement, which went on to describe the refund process.

‘As we navigate these challenges, we are actively working on creating alternative plans for the future, ensuring an unforgettable experience for our valued community.’

Since news of the voyage’s collapse, both Holmes and Petterson have joined separate cruise companies offering similar deals.

Holmes is now CEO of HLC Cruises, which is offering boutique cruising with duty-free shopping on board for the ‘finest in gold, diamonds, and luxury goods.’

The company said that if between 60 and 70 Life at Sea customers transfer to them they would be in a position to get ‘something started’. 

A total of 111 customers had signed up for the voyage before it was abruptly cancelled

A total of 111 customers had signed up for the voyage before it was abruptly cancelled

Passengers who sent possessions ahead have been told they will be returned to them

Passengers who sent possessions ahead have been told they will be returned to them

It planned to obtain a boat for a few months before upgrading to a larger vessel.

However, within 72 hours of floating the offer, Holmes rescinded the temporary offer, stating the company will wait until it can secure a permanent ship.

Meanwhile Petterson and several other former Life at Sea employees are offering low introductory rates for anyone willing to jump ship and join their new venture, Villa Vie Residences. Neither company has concrete departure plans as yet. 

At the time of publication, Life at Sea Cruises still had a countdown running until it was due to set sail, promising to take passengers to 382 ports in 140 countries over 1095 days.

Potential customers were still being given the option to reserve cabins through an online form. 



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