When Life at Sea Cruises abruptly cancelled a heavily promoted three-year trip around the world a few weeks ago, would-be passengers were naturally let down. But some were more disappointed than others.
Keri Witman, founder and president of a digital marketing agency in Cincinnati called Clever Lucy, had made big life changes to join the cruise—including selling her home. She had planned to work remotely, which she largely does anyway, while crossing the globe on the cruise, which would visit 148 countries and hundreds of ports.
“I’ve been working over the last eight months to really get everything in line, my life organized, so that I can make it happen,” Witman told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It was really disappointing to find out it wasn’t going to pan out.”
Along with selling her home and moving into a short-term rental, Witman got rid of many of her possessions. She also expedited a knee surgery, she told Good Morning America.
But signs of trouble appeared last month. After being scheduled originally to depart from Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 1, the trip was abruptly postponed to Nov. 11, with Amsterdam becoming the new point of departure. It was postponed again to Nov. 30. Finally, on Nov. 17, passengers were told the cruise had been canceled.
‘Sorry for the inconvenience’
While the uncertainty mounted, Witman told the Enquirer, she “was just in a spot where you didn’t want to plan anything forward,” adding she had paid an initial installment and deposit totaling $32,000 for the trip. Life at Sea Cruises advertised interior rooms starting at $38,500 per person per year, with some outside cabins going for nearly $100,000.
But as it turns out, there was no ship. The vessel that Life at Sea had planned to purchase was instead bought by another company. After that, Miray Cruises, the owner of Life at Sea, couldn’t afford to buy another ship. Fortune reached out to Miray but received no response.
The company announced that passengers would receive refunds in installments. In a message to customers, Miray owner Vedat Ugurlu said he was “extremely sorry for the inconvenience.”
Of course, selling a home to join a cruise that never happens is more than an “inconvenience.” Yet Witman struck an upbeat tone in a statement shared with local TV station WKRC, which reads:
“These last few months have been a whirlwind of excitement and change, readying for the three-year Life at Sea work/life cruise…I remain hopeful to be part of a long-term, residential cruise in 2024. I am also very grateful for the community of people who I have connected with over the last few months (who would have been my new neighbors). Many of us are in touch and collaborating on a ‘Plan B’ together.”