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3-Year-Long Cruise Cancelled 1 Week Before Departure

The eagerly anticipated three-year around-the-world cruise, scheduled to embark next week, has been abruptly canceled, leaving passengers who had sold or rented their homes and traveled to the starting port stranded and deeply disappointed.

Life at Sea Cruises had marketed this inaugural voyage as the journey of a lifetime, spanning 382 ports across 140 countries over three years. However, signs of trouble had been evident for months. Passengers experienced extended periods of silence from the cruise company and witnessed two postponements, initially set for departure on November 1, rescheduled to November 11, and finally to November 30.

Compounding the issue, the cruise line informed customers that the retired ship they intended to purchase and refurbish had been acquired by another company. In a memo obtained by Business Insider, Miray Cruises, the parent company of Life at Sea Cruises, cited challenges due to investor withdrawals as the reason for the turmoil.

Apologizing for the situation, Miray’s CEO Vedat Ugurlu acknowledged the hurdles and pledged to devise alternative plans for an unforgettable experience in a statement on November 19. This followed the resignation of Life at Sea’s CEO Kendra Holmes, who, upon leaving, recorded a video revealing the cancellation.

Life at Sea has committed to refunding the minimum $115,500-per-person package, with monthly refund installments commencing in mid-December. Additionally, the company offered to cover accommodation until December 1 and flights for those who had already reached the departure destination in Istanbul.

Despite these efforts, passengers who had liquidated assets and made significant preparations for the cruise found little solace in the company’s compensation. The initial plan had aimed for 800-900 passengers, primarily from the United States, with 40% of the 540 cabins reserved as of August. The cruise had promised a renovated vessel with world-class amenities, such as a business center, library, 24-hour on-call hospital, free medical visits, adult education classes, a state-of-the-art wellness center, multiple dining options, and various philanthropic initiatives.

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