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Life at Sea: Once a Dream Cruise, Won’t Leave the Dock

(Photo Credit: Sven Lachmann from Pixabay)

Readers of American Retiree might remember seeing an exciting article about a three year long cruise around the world that planned to visit 375 destinations across 135 countries.

With the cost of necessities like Wi-Fi, meals, laundry, doctor’s appointments, cleaning services, alcohol with dinner and more included in the $30,000 per year, per person price tag, it worked out to be roughly on average $5,000 a month – less than the typical costs of upkeeping on a house, apartment, an auto and other necessary living expenses.

It was such an attractive offering that scores of people, the majority of whom were seniors over the age of 65, quit their jobs, found new homes for pets, sold their houses, furniture, belongings, and businesses anticipating spending three glorious years exploring the world by sea.

Passengers booking were required to make a down payment of at least $45,000 before May 2023.  

Unfortunately, the grand concept of Life at Sea cruises was, in the end, simply too good to be true.

It ended up being a debacle that could rival Fyre Festival’s fall out.

With the ship originally set to depart Istanbul, Turkey on November 1st, 2023, it wasn’t until a mere two weeks before then, after a period of frustrating silence for customers, that Life at Sea Cruises announced to passengers that it had not even secured a ship to sail and would be cancelling the cruise in it’s entirety.

The reason for such short notice cancellation?

Miray Cruises, which owns Life at Sea, admitted that “Miray is not such a big company to afford to pay $40-50 million (USD) for a ship,” after the cruise company’s investors backed out after a down payment was made.

In January 2024, 78 passengers of the Life at Sea cruise from countries including the U.S., England, Australia, Singapore, India, and more sent a letter to Markenzy Lapointe, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, alleging that passengers lost nearly $16 million due to Miray’s “misrepresentation and fraud”.

At this time, Lapointe’s office has not yet launched an official investigation.

Making matters worse, Miray Cruises has reportedly been slow at refunding affected customers – many of whom are living in hotels or staying with friends, after having already sold their homes or terminating apartment leases.

Reportedly only four passengers have received a partial refund of any of the money they paid.

In an official statement, Miray Cruises said that issues slowing passenger’s refunds were due to “banking and credit card problems”.

The letter sent by passengers also highlighted that “the failure of Miray to refund passenger money as promised has caused a significant number of residents to literally become homeless.”

The concerned passengers say that one of the most frustrating aspects is the lack of communication from Miray and Life at Sea, which could have allowed them to make other arrangements, if they understood the three year cruise was going to fall through.

In a November 19, 2023, letter, Miray’s owner, Vedat Ugurlu, promised passengers that they would receive full repayment in three installments, with the first scheduled for December 22nd, 2023, and the following payments in January and February 2024.

What could have been a novel way to see all the beauty the world has to offer, ended up as disappointment for hundreds of passengers from across the globe.

Miray Cruises has said that the company aims to provide a ship for the cruise by the end of 2024, but passengers for the original Life at Sea cruise are skeptical that it will come to pass.

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