A retired Melbourne woman is now homeless after her dreams of a “forever cruise” collapsed without trace with the cruise line behind The Life at Sea concept failing to secure a ship.
Fran Paroissien, 75, took out a reverse mortgage and rented her Hawthorn apartment on a 12-month lease intent on spending her retirement on the world cruise aboard a luxury ship.
The Life at Sea voyage was supposed to set sail from Istanbul, Turkey, on November 1, then a new departure date was set for November 11 in Amsterdam, before being postponed again to November 30. A week before that, it was cancelled altogether after Miray Cruises announced it was unable to secure a ship.
“I’m disappointed. I don’t want to go into a village, and I’m not decrepit enough for a nursing home, so it looked like it would be a good alternative. I was quite excited,” Nine newspapers reported Paroissien as saying.
Paroissien has since booked three shorter cruises and hopes by the time they end in April, there will be another affordable long-term cruise she can book.
Around 111 cabins had been booked ahead of the original Life at Sea departure, with more than a dozen Australians and New Zealanders affected.
Brisbane mother of five, Rina Cavazza, is another Australian known to have booked a berth on a three-year cruise around the globe before the forever cruise collapse.
“I’ll be travelling for over a thousand days on one single boat,” mum-of-five, Rina Cavazza told A Current Affair before the cancellation was announced. “(There are) 140 countries I’ll be visiting 382 ports; 13 out of the 14 wonders of the world.”
Among its other global destinations, the cruise was scheduled to visit Thursday Island in Queensland in December 2024 and then mainland Australia in March 2025, stopping by Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide, Esperance, Perth, Geraldton, Port Hedland, Broome, Darwin and the Tiwi Islands.
But the trip advertised as “the cruise that never ends” never started after Miray Cruises failed to buy a seaworthy vessel.
Paroissien is now “couch-surfing” at a friend’s apartment, and is still waiting for her refund of more than $350,000.
Owner of Miray Cruises Vedat Ugurlu said the company could not afford a new vessel after an original purchase fell through.
“We have presented the project to investors, and we had official approval from some of them to buy the vessel … our investors declined to support us further due to the unrest in the Middle East,” he wrote in a message to passengers. “We have tried everything to make your dreams come true.”
The new ship had room for up to 1266 passengers and was set to visit 135 countries and 13 of the 14 wonders of the world.
It was originally scheduled to run for three years, but it was later announced the cruise would continue indefinitely with a rolling itinerary.
Miray Cruises chief executive Kendra Holmes has since stepped down after the forever cruise collapse.
Prices appealed to many battling with a rental crisis and high cost-of-living expenses, with tickets starting at $57,000 per person per year for an internal cabin shared with a partner, and up to $300,000 per person per year for a top-deck balcony cabin.
Meals – along with limited alcohol at lunch and dinner – medical consults, weekly housekeeping and laundry, internet and onboard entertainment were included in the price.
Residents have been told they would be refunded within 12 weeks, including for non-refundable travel expenses such as visas, hotels and flights.