No ship, no cruise. Passengers who had planned their trip of a lifetime, and paid more than $100,0000 to embark on the trip, have found out that the trip isn’t happening.
The company had been planning to buy the AIDAaura, a ship that had been retired earlier this year by AIDA Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp. But another company, Celestyal Cruises, bought the ship.
Originally the cruise was supposed to embark from Istanbul, Turkey on Nov. 1, but just before the trip was scheduled to begin, it was postponed until Nov. 11 and moved to Amsterdam. Then the date was pushed back to Nov. 30 with the start of the voyage remaining as Amsterdam.
But at a time when people should be packing and putting the last-minute touches on their plans, passengers were told on Nov. 17 that their trip was canceled.
The news came too late for some of the passengers who had paid for the 111 cabins. Some had already traveled to Istanbul before the original departure date. Others sold or rented their homes and got rid of their possessions, CNN reported.
The trip cost about $115,500 per person, sailing to 382 ports in 240 countries, Business Insider reported. After the first three years, the ship would then embark on another three-year cruise with passengers who wanted to stay on, could pay extra to remain.
They’re also out the money they had paid for the time being until they can get their refunds which will be repaid in monthly installments from mid-December through late February.
The company also said it would pay for accommodation through Dec. 1 and flights home for those stuck in Istanbul.
Vedat Ugurlu, Owner of Miray Cruises, which owns Life at Sea, said he was “extremely sorry for the inconvenience” adding that the company couldn’t afford the ship, CNN reported. The company was able to make a down payment, Ugurlu said, but investors dropped their support of the project because of Middle East unrest, without specifying if it was the attack on Israel on Oct. 7 by Hamas.
A memo to customers said the company was “facing challenges” because of investor withdrawals, Business Insider reported.
The company tried and failed to buy a different ship and Ugurlu said they are trying to find a third ship.
Ugurlu said they may also offer the trip on the MV Gemini, the company’s ship that was originally slated to be used but was deemed too small. But Chief Operating Officer Ethem Bayramouglu clarified the statement, telling passengers, “In case we weren’t clear, the Life at Sea cruise trip is canceled.” Bayramouglu also told passengers how they could retrieve the belongings that they had sent to the ship before the cruise, CNN reported.