Life at Sea Cruise’s three-year cruise will now take place on a new and bigger ship, the company has said in a statement.
Miray Cruises, the parent company of Life at Sea Cruises, has now found a ship that it believes is more suitable.
The cruise, initially at a price point of AU$44,174, sparked a lot of interest among retirees and others seeking a life at sea.
The original plan was to sail on the MV Gemini. But rumours circulated the vessel was not appropriate for the journey. Instead, the MV Lara, which has capacity for 1,250 passengers, will sail at 85 percent capacity.
How much more will the cruise cost?
With a larger ship, comes a price hike. And Life at Sea Cruises claims that interest has been reinvigorated with bookings ‘soaring’.
“Bookings have increased since the MV Lara announcement. We are currently at 40% occupancy and are getting multiple inquiries and bookings per day.”
Prices have risen by 28% from USD$29,999 ($44,175AUD) to USD$43,860 ($64,613AUD) for an inside cabin.
However, this is reportedly also due to initial cabins selling out.
“Original price was $29,999. But those rooms have been sold out. And now the starting rate is $43,860 per year per person based on double occupancy. As with any voyage, prices increase at a steady rate and so the sooner residents book the voyage, the lower the price will be.”
But those who had locked in their deposits and bookings for the three-year cruise on the MV Gemini, will not have to pay the increased price onboard the new ship.
“Those who have already paid deposits of part of their fare will not have to pay extra, prices stay the same for people who originally booked on the MV Gemini.”
Issues with performance bond
But some passengers have raised another issue around requirements they board the MV Lara at a port outside the United States. This will mean that Miray Cruises, Life at Sea Cruises’ parent company, will not be required to pay the performance bond required by the Federal Maritime Commission for cruise ships embarking passengers at U.S. ports.
The performance bonds reimburse U.S.-boarding passengers if cruise operators fail to complete the booked trips.
However, the cruise line attributes this decision simply to passenger preference.
“Most of our residents chose to embark in Europe. They are either joining us for our planned celebrations pre-sailing in Istanbul, or at our second embarkation point in Barcelona. Less than ten (out of hundreds) residents requested embarkation in Miami.
“Given this low number and the flexibility of these residents, we moved the embarkation to Freeport, Bahamas. This is to give us even more days in South America for our itinerary. Sailing straight to Freeport from Europe gives us additional time in Peru, so our residents don’t miss the opportunity to explore Machu Picchu.”
The passengers who are booked on the three-year cruise
Shirene Thomas from North Carolina is all booked in and set to cruise, despite previous doubts over the company.
She told CNBC: “I understand turbulence with staff turnover left some understandably on edge, but I feel the Life at Seas team has been honest, transparent, and exceedingly communicative with everyone about the situation.
“They’ve held countless webinars to answer questions and quell people’s fears and been very approachable.”
Ms Thomas also says that without the performance bond, she is using her credit card to pay for the cruise, giving herself a safety net to recoup her money.
“I know nothing is 100% safe. Everything points to the real deal. I trust they would give us our money back if it doesn’t go.”