In March, Life at Sea Cruises announced it was accepting reservations for its three-year cruise around the world. The ship was scheduled to set sail on November 30, with the original November 1 departure date having been rescheduled several times.
Now, less than two weeks before its maiden voyage, Life at Sea has acknowledged to anxious passengers that there is no ship, and that the once-in-a-lifetime trip has been canceled, CNN reported.
A press release shared with CNBC Make It back in March stated that the trip would cover over 130,000 miles and visit 375 ports across 135 countries and seven continents. The prices started at $29,999 a year and payment options started at $2,499 per month.
The three-year cruise was initially set to depart from Istanbul, Turkey on November 1. Shortly before that date, it was postponed to November 11 and relocated to Amsterdam, then rescheduled to November 30.
On November 17, passengers were informed by Miray Cruises, Life at Sea’s parent company, that the company could not afford to buy a ship after “investors declined to support us further due to the unrest in [the] Middle East,” according to ABC News. The company had been trying to buy AIDAaura, a 20-year-old ship, which was sold in November to another cruise company.
In a statement to the news outlet, Miray Cruises owner Vedat Ugurlu said the cruise wasn’t canceled but postponed until May 2024.
“We just had to extend our approval,” he said. “Because as you know, three-year cruises is a mega project. The reason for this is our vessel capacity—needed to exceed more than 600 cabins. And right now, we only have 104 cabins.”
A statement posted on Miray Cruises’ Instagram page in Turkish on November 27 stated the Life at Sea Cruises trip was postponed because the number of passengers was below expectations and had no mention of the company rescheduling because it couldn’t acquire a ship.
Life at Sea Cruises also stated in the translated statement that any customers who want a refund will receive it, including money spent on acquiring visas and other travel expenses. They also told ABC News that those who have already paid will have a cabin waiting when the ship is ready.
According to reports from ABC News and CNN, some passengers are now faced with what to do next after having sold their homes to embark on the three-year journey.
Representatives for Life at Sea Cruises and Miray Cruises did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.
The company has said it will make refund repayments in monthly installments starting mid-December and will complete them in late February, according to CNN. It has also offered to pay for accommodations until December 1 and flights home for anyone who has already traveled to Istanbul.
Miray and Life at Sea cruises are also offering customers who bought into the original cruise a separate, shorter free cruise next summer.
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