Prevented dream ship: The AIDAaura in an archive photo from 2007
Photo: Z1017 Bernd Wüstneck/ dpa
What an exciting journey: almost 1100 days of travel time! Seven continents! 140 countries! 382 ports! The Life at Sea Cruise was supposed to be a dream trip of superlatives. The impressive figures can still be found on the tour operator's website. However, there was no decisive figure there, namely how many cruise ships the organizer has chartered for this purpose. It reads: zero.
About two weeks before the travelers were supposed to set sail, the Life at Sea Cruise was cancelled for the time being. This is reported by CNN and ABC . According to the report, the reasons are "delays" and "logistical challenges".
The double cab would have cost at least $77,000 per year, according to the website. According to ABC, the company has announced that it will repay the money for previous bookings in monthly installments starting in December.
However, the interpretations of the step apparently differ. Both media speak of a "cancellation", ABC writes that the head of the parent company Miray Cruises, Vedat Ugurlu, had already informed customers of the cancellation on November 20. However, Ugurlu later claimed to the broadcaster that "nothing has been canceled" and that the tour had only been postponed to May 2024. Anyone who wants to, however, can claim back their deposit, visa costs and other expenses. For everyone else who had already paid, there would be a cabin in May. In addition, all customers are invited to a shorter, separate cruise in the summer. Life at Sea Cruises has not yet responded to a request for comment from SPIEGEL.
House sold for a trip around the world
Apparently, Miray Cruises, an established Turkish shipping company, did not have a suitable ship for the subsidiary to carry out the trip. According to messages sent to customers according to ABC information, Miray had spoken of investor commitments for the financing of the vessel. However, these investors have withdrawn in the face of the crisis in the Gaza Strip.
Since Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7, travel to many parts of the world has become more critical. However, according to the plan, the ship should have been taken care of by this time.
According to CNN, the plan was to buy the decommissioned AIDAaura and rename it MV Lara. The deal was supposed to be completed in September, after which work in the dry dock in Germany was planned. Then the dates were postponed further and further until on November 16, another company announced that it had bought the AIDAaura.
Another cruise without a ship?
Both media report on customers who have already paid large sums for the trip and in some cases have sold residential property for it. They would not know where to stay at the planned time of travel. One feels "incredibly sad and unbelievably betrayed," one prevented passenger is quoted as saying.
If the story isn't crazy enough for you, here you go: According to CNN, the former managing director of Life at Sea Cruises, Kendra Holmes, is now in the process of promoting a new cruise with the same concept. She is now CEO of the cruise operator HLC, which sells jewels and other luxury products on its ships. And she is also preparing a long-term voyage, for which HLC will soon acquire a ship.