The start of a cruise lasting three years and touted as a way to “break free from the mundane, redefine your work-life balance and create a life filled with adventure and achievement” has been delayed due to the lack of a ship, leaving ticket holders holding on with uncertainty to their travel dreams.
Delay and change of port
Destined for 375 ports around the world, in 135 countries and all seven continents, the cruise was originally supposed to depart from Istanbul on 1 November 2023. Conceived under the banner of Miray Cruises subsidiary Life at Sea, the epic voyage is now slated to leave on 11 November, a 10-day delay, and from Amsterdam instead of Istanbul, a three-hour flight from the Turkish port.
Those who cannot embark in Amsterdam have been told they can be picked up later in the voyage.
Different ship or no ship?
The announced vessel for the extraordinary sailing has already been changed once. The Istanbul operator initially said it would use its own 30-year-old MV Gemini for the sailing, before problems with the ship’s safety certificate triggered a wave of refund requests and other sweeping changes, including a split between Life at Sea and Miray and a new choice of craft.
The MV Lara – a repurposing of the German-built AIDAAura, which Miray said it had acquired – was then supposed to become the passengers’ new home for the next three years.
Now, though Miray Cruises have said “finalizing the funds transfer for the purchase” was “taking longer than expected” but the transaction should be complete within a week. Worryingly for ticket holders, the company said the same thing two weeks ago.
Costing $30,000 (over €28,000), the cruise could be argued to represent great value, for three years’ worth of accommodation, catering, bills and business facilities. Marketing for the mega-trip has been targeted at, among others, “digital nomads” who are promised a “productive” dedicated work environment and the ability to “work while exploring new cultures, cuisines, and landscapes, all thanks to our always stable free internet.”
But for those who have already given notice on personal and business rents in order to embark at the very start of the ship’s three-year voyage, the delay now means having to find somewhere to live and await embarkation – for an additional 10 days.
As well as the problem of having to find and pay out for unexpected accommodation and living costs, news about Life at Sea’s failure to secure a ship has left would-be “residents” (as passengers will be called) wondering if the cruise will go ahead at all.
“We are all sitting on pins and needles right now – the uncertainty is excruciating,” said one, reported by CNN, adding, “I’m okay with a delay, but I won’t be okay with a cancellation.”