Dozens of people signed up for a three-year cruise voyage, only for the trip to be canceled.
Adam, a British man in his 50s, is among the would-be passengers who still hasn't received a refund.
He was diagnosed with cancer right before the trip was canceled, compounding his stress.
This is an as-told-to essay based on a conversation with Adam, a British man in his 50s, who is among the dozens of people who signed up for a three-year cruise with Life at Sea — an around-the-world voyage that was canceled two weeks before it was supposed to set sail. He wanted to be identified by first name only for privacy reasons; his full name is known by Business Insider. He and 77 other would-be passengers who have yet to receive refunds are asking the US Attorney in Southern Florida to investigate Life at Sea's parent company, Miray Cruise Lines, LLC, for fraud.
Business Insider has viewed documents confirming Adam purchased a cabin on the ship and that he was diagnosed with cancer in Autumn 2023.
When I first heard about Life at Sea Cruises, it sounded too good to be true.
I had just been diagnosed with massive blood clots, which make it difficult to fly. These sorts of life-threatening things give you a bit of a jolt in your life. You think: I'd better go out and do something with my life.
This cruise would have allowed me to see the world without flying.
I wasn't sure about it at first, so I tried to do some checking. I spoke with several Miray Cruises executives, and I even checked with my bank to make sure they were a legitimate company. I needed to feel trust if I was going to part with my life savings.
My girlfriend thought it was a brilliant idea, as well. She was going to join me on various legs of the cruise. Imagine traveling around the world, and your girlfriend can join you regularly. You can see the allure of it.
A couple of destinations really excited me. One was Alaska. The other was Antarctica. If you were going to book a trip to just Antarctica, you would spend $10,000 to $15,000. So, you can see the benefit of the cost of the cruise.
I paid the full amount of the cruise up front in June 2023. I was sold on the fact that if I paid the full amount to start, I would get a large discount.
Obviously, this so-called discount is now a moot point.
[Editor's note: Adam did not want to disclose how much he paid. However, the cheapest interior cabins started at a little over $115,500 per person for all three years.]
I made several sacrifices to prepare for the voyage
I gave up my job. I had someone lined up to rent my property.
I started to clear out my house and sell my possessions. I was packing things away and putting stuff in storage.
I went through about three months of vaccinations; I got visas for several destinations; I did a round of goodbye dinners with friends and family I was leaving behind.
There are other costs we arranged as well. My daughter and girlfriend were going to meet me in various places around the world. We pre-booked flights and hotels in certain destinations.
But by August, things started to get rather strange. Miray kept changing their story, changing their agreements. They kept trying to change the contract I had signed.
I asked about a contract withdrawal. But we were very quickly told that while we could cancel and withdraw, our refund would be far reduced.
In other words, they tried to keep us tied in.
[Ethem Bayramoğlu, COO of Miray Cruises, told Business Insider that Miray never told its would-be travelers this, adding that the company will pay everyone "even if they have withdrawn their contracts. Some of them still continue with their contract for a 2024 sailing, and we will pay in full to the ones who want a refund."
However, would-be travelers like Adam said they have not received their refunded payment.]
In September, management at Miray went totally silent. No communication with us passengers. They wouldn't answer our questions, phone calls, texts, nothing whatsoever.
That obviously brought enormous concern. So, around September and October, I was looking for an out. My contract said if Miray defaults or doesn't sail, we get a refund. With the contract obligations, my only option was to wait until the end of November.
So, I thought, OK, I'll wait. I've got no choice but to wait until then.
It's around that time I got diagnosed with cancer
It compounded the stress of all this enormously. I'm trying to organize treatment, and I have to worry about the hassle of paying future medical bills. The National Health Service doesn't pay for everything.
I have no job. I have no income. I've only got a small amount of savings left.
I was in Istanbul in November when Miray announced the cruise was canceled
We were told via Circle, the online social platform used by all the would-be passengers. Not even personally. They announced that full refunds would be given to all those who requested them.
There was some relief. We kind of knew that was going to happen. I jumped straight away to make my refund request. I didn't want to hold anything up.
"I can finally get out," I thought.
Of course, here we are today. Still no refund. Not even one cent.
I sent Miray my cancer diagnosis
I was quite upfront with Miray. COO Ethem Bayramoğlu has even told me several times since the cancellation that they would make it a priority to get me my money back because they knew I had to go back to the UK to get treatment.
[Bayramoğlu confirmed that Adam is a priority and "will be the first" to receive a refund when it begins the bank wires.]
It really angers me now. I have to put off treatment because I have to find a job now. I've got bills to pay, a mortgage to pay. I don't know what I'm going to do because I'm running out of money. And It's been radio silence from Miray.
I'm very much looking forward to speaking with the attorney if he wants to. And I challenge Ethem Bayramoğlu and [Miray CEO] Vedat Ugurlu to meet with me face to face.
Miray clearly sold me a lie.
Read the original article on Business Insider