A cruise that was set to sail around the world for three years has been abruptly cancelled at the last minute. The reason? The company behind the cruise couldn’t afford to buy a ship in time, as CNN reports.
Life at Sea Cruises, a division of Miray Cruises, had planned for its inaugural cruise to set sail November 1 from Istanbul, Turkey. Passengers quickly booked up 111 cabins on the ship, shelling out thousands of dollars to do so. Others, who had planned to be gone for the years the ship was set to be at sea, had rented out or outright sold their homes in advance of the trip. However, Life at Sea Cruises ran into some problems right before the trip was set to sail.
Life at Sea was in talks to purchase a recently retired cruise ship called AIDAaura from Carnival Cruise’s German subsidiary AIDA Cruises. The plan was for Life at Sea’s purchase of the ship to be completed by September, after which it would rechristen the ship MV Lara, complete repairs in a dry dock in Germany and undergo a last-minute renovation in Istanbul. Nothing went as planned, though, according to CNN:
But after six weeks of uncertainty, during which Life at Sea repeatedly told guests that the sale was taking longer than planned, on November 16 another company, Celestyal Cruises, announced that it had bought the AIDAaura.
A day later, Life at Sea’s former CEO Kendra Holmes – who had resigned days earlier and said she was not speaking on behalf of the parent company, Miray Cruises – recorded a 15-minute video for passengers, admitting that the cruise would not be going ahead. It’s unclear why Holmes was chosen to make the announcement, which was provided to CNN by a passenger. She has declined to comment to CNN.
Two days after Holmes’ video another video was sent to passengers, this time from Vedat Ugurlu, the owner of Miray Cruises. In it, he confirmed that the cruise wouldn’t be happening because the company couldn’t afford to buy the ship. “Miray is not such a big company to afford to pay 40-50 million for a ship,” he said. Ugurlu then went on to explain how the company had tried and failed to buy two other ships. He said he was “extremely sorry for the inconvenience.” Now everyone from ship staff to passengers are wondering what to do next.
The company said it would issue refunds to passengers. Many, who spoke with CNN anonymously, are angry and saddened as they had made plans for the next three years that now won’t be happening. “I’m very sad, angry and lost,” said one passenger. “I had the next three years of my life planned to live an extraordinary life, and now [I have] nothing. I’m having a hard time moving forward,” said another.
Meanwhile, the company has a mess brewing internally, with many employees leaving – some over what happened, others have joined together to start a rival cruise company. Kendra Holmes resigned as CEO in late November to work with a new long-term cruise company called HLC Cruises; she says 60 or 70 Life at Sea employees followed her over. Life at Sea’s former managing director Mikael Petterson is heading up a new company called Villa Vie Residences, which is also being staffed by ex-Life At Sea employees. While all this is happening, disappointed passengers just want to take their cruise. As one passenger remarked, “I don’t think they will ever understand how much damage they’ve caused us.”
Image: GreenOak (Shutterstock)
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