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Retirees left stranded after three-year-long cruise abruptly canceled

By Jake Beardslee · December 3, 2023

In brief…

  • Three-year around-the-world cruise canceled less than 3 weeks before departure
  • Passengers sold homes/belongings expecting to be at sea for years
  • Company could not afford intended retired ship, which another line purchased
  • Stranded travelers very upset, with nowhere to go and no immediate full refunds
An abruptly canceled 3-year luxury cruise left senior citizen passengers stranded and distraught over losing retirement plans and savings they'd invested in the voyage.  Life at Sea Cruises

A much-anticipated three-year around-the-world cruise has been abruptly canceled with less than two weeks’ notice, leaving booked passengers stranded and outraged. The cruise was organized by Turkey-based Miray Cruises’ Life at Sea Cruises brand and scheduled to embark from Amsterdam on November 30. Some passengers like Kimberly Arizzi had sold homes and belongings to afford the $30,000 per year fare. They were shocked to receive a November 17 video message from former CEO Kendra Holmes explaining that the company could not finalize purchase of the intended AIDAaura ship. Owner Vedat Ugurlu later admitted “Miray is not such a big company to afford to pay 40-50 million [dollars] for a ship,” according to Fox News Digital.

The retired ship was bought instead by Celestyal Cruises, leaving Miray without a vessel. Some disheartened travelers remained stuck in Istanbul, where the journey was originally to start on November 1. Life at Sea has offered minor compensation like return flights and hotel rooms until December 1. But many passengers “had the next three years of [their] life planned” around the one-of-a-kind, 130,000 nautical mile excursion. They felt “very sad, angry and lost” over having “nothing” and being too old to easily remake retirement plans, Fox reported.

Refunds are promised in installments over months, but that timeline gives no immediate support. As one passenger lamented to CNN, “There’s a whole lot of people right now with nowhere to go.”