- A cruise that was announced in March, with plans to sail the world, is now in limbo.
- Prospective passengers paid down payments on rooms costing up to $109,000 a year, per CNN.
- Customers are now demanding refunds amid internal uncertainty, a prospective passenger told Insider.
Customers who spent thousands of dollars on a multi-year cruise billed to hit every continent are demanding their money back after issues with the cruise company's founding staff arose, months after the venture was announced.
The first-of-its-kind cruise MV Gemini Cruise, announced in late February, was set to launch from Istanbul in November, with plans to visit all seven continents and 135 countries. The voyage is now plagued with management issues that are leaving customers wary of hopping aboard.
The MV Gemini cruise was organized by Miray Cruises and its subsidiary company Life at Sea Cruises. However, ties between Life at Sea at Miray for the project were severed this month, according to CNN, citing the former managing director of Life at Sea Cruises.
In a press release on March 10, Miray Cruises mentioned that the ship would be "overhauled" ahead of the trip, now months away. Miray Cruises did not immediately return Insider's request for comment but said in a May webinar for passengers that the trip was still going ahead, per CNN.
Kimberly Arizzi was among the first to sign up in March, and sent a $5,000 down payment for the cruise at the time, interfacing directly with the Life at Sea sales team, Arizzi told Insider. But the uncertainty over the ship and the staffing shakeup made her and other prospective passengers walk back their plans.
"I thought I had my life set up for the next few years," Arizzi told Insider. "It's not only the furniture I lost, it was the boat-topia — the idea of being in a like minded-community, all doing something together for the first time ever."
One woman sold her apartment ahead of the trip
Arizzi, who lives in Chicago, sold thousands of dollars worth of clothes, furniture, and her TVs, in preparation for the cruise. She recently retired and had also sold her apartment, moved to a park trailer, she said.
Jim Cremer, another prospective passenger, told Insider that the voyage was initially a "dream trip," but that right now, he is "not yet confident that Miray can pull it off."
In a Facebook group for the Life at Sea community with almost 800 members, Mike Petterson, Life at Sea's former managing director, wrote that his company issued refunds after a split with Miray, and cast doubt on whether it would be ready to sail by November.
Arizzi's deposits were refunded on April 20, she told Insider. Prospective customers have through the end of June to send deposits amid the fracas, according to Petterson.
Petterson did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.
The two companies organizing the trip have parted ways
Arizzi echoed that there had been a breakdown between Life at Sea and Miray, with parent company Miray holding two to three webinars a day to quell customer concerns about the future of the trip, she told Insider.
The webinars have also left some with mixed feelings, she added.
"It was like a press conference where astronauts go to the moon and look really sullen, but should look excited," Arizzi told Insider. "They promised so much, and perhaps over promised."
Arizzi told Insider that Miray is planning to go forward with the cruise, inviting customers to Istanbul three days early to party on the boat. She won't be attending, or making another deposit for at least the next year. She decided to board a shorter-term cruise until the summer "and see what's out there for next year."
"I believe the Gemini ship will go on," she said, "but I just don't think I'll be happy on it."