Kara and Joe Youssef, an American couple, become stranded in Turkey and may potentially be rendered destitute subsequent to the transformation of their anticipated three-year cruise into an abyss. The couple had reserved the cruise, which Miray International Cruises dubbed “Life at Sea” and advertised as the “ultimate bucket list world cruise” with an inside cabin starting at $90,000.
After making a $5,000 deposit and selling their apartment to finance the cruise, the Youssefs were subsequently informed that a 25% payment was due. As the launch date of November 1 approached, however, concerns regarding the ship’s suitability surfaced. The proposed vessel, the MV Gemini, reportedly lacked sufficient petroleum capacity to complete the transatlantic voyage as planned, notwithstanding a $10 million refurbishment.
Mikael Petterson, a Miami-based entrepreneur and one of the cruise’s creators, withdrew from the undertaking. His departure was followed by the formation of a team under the leadership of Kendra Holmes, who at the time was the vice president for business development at Miray. Despite Holmes’s reassurances, the Youssefs’ anxiety grew steadily worse.
The excursion was subsequently postponed from November 11 to November 30 in Amsterdam. Already in Istanbul, the Youssefs discovered from a newspaper that another company had acquired the MV Lara, the new vessel for the cruise. Holmes quit his position at Miray shortly thereafter.
Passengers were informed that refunds would be disbursed over a period of three months, from December 2023 to February 2024, following the loss of Miray’s principal investor, who had been sponsoring the acquisition of the MV Lara. However, by the time the initial deadline passed, only a subset of passengers had been reimbursed.
Since December 28, the Youssefs have been residing in a hotel in Istanbul, which Miray has financed, without any monetary compensation. Mary Rader, a retired social worker and fellow passenger who incurred a payment of $80,000, conveyed a lack of optimism regarding the possibility of receiving her refund.
The website of Life at Sea is presently featuring an alternative launch date of November 2024, which has caused financial distress and uncertainty for the Youssefs and other passengers.