Cruise passengers stranded after £70,000 dream holiday cancelled

NBC reports as cruise ship 'hits dock' at San Francisco pier

A three-year world cruise costing over £70,000 ($89,997) was cancelled just days before it was due to set sail. 

The Life at Sea Cruises’ first three-year sailing, which was announced in March, promised passengers a unique voyage covering 130,000 miles, 375 ports, and 135 countries.

One passenger, Kimberly Arizzi, even sold her flat, furniture, clothes, and TV to pay for her retirement cruise.

However, passengers were informed on November 17 that the cruise was cancelled, with it originally set to leave from Amsterdam on November 30.

While some passengers are still in Istanbul, where the ship was initially supposed to depart, the company has said it will issue refunds in monthly installments starting in mid-December.

Life at Sea Cruises also offered to cover flights and accommodation until December 1 for those stranded in Istanbul.

However, some passengers have nowhere to go as they had planned to be on the cruise for three years. “There’s a whole lot of people right now with nowhere to go, and some need their refund to even plan a place to go it’s not good right now,” one passenger told CNN.

The company had plans to purchase the AIDAaura ship, which was retired by AIDA Cruises, a part of Carnival Corp but Celestyal Cruises ended up buying the ship as the sale took longer than expected.

On November 16, Kendra Holmes, the former CEO of Life at Sea Cruises, sent passengers a 15-minute video explaining that the journey was cancelled. She clarified that she wasn’t speaking on behalf of Miray Cruises.

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Just two days after the video was sent, Vedat Ugurlu, the owner of Miray Cruises, confessed that the company couldn’t afford the ship.

“Miray is not such a big company to afford to pay 40-50 million [dollars] for a ship,” he said. He added that while they made a down payment, investors “declined to support us further due to unrest in the Middle East.”

Passengers were left disappointed and upset by the decision and lack of notice from the cruise line.

“I’m very sad, angry and lost,” one person said. “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.”

“I never imagined I’d be in this position as a senior citizen,” another said. 

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