Miray Cruises made waves when it announced the 3-year Life at Sea Cruises world voyage on February 27, 2023. In an era of highly sought-after world cruises, this news created a tsunami of excitement and subsequent booking requests. Not only did the cruise have an extraordinary 130,000-mile-plus itinerary, but the entry price of $29,999 per person per year made it alluring to pre-retirees, retirees, remote workers, and adventurous travel lovers wishing to explore the world.
Since that time, some things have changed. These include management turnover, changes in embarkation ports and prices, and the acquisition of a larger ship. Answers to some key questions have been sorted out, but others remain outstanding.
Here’s what to know about this blockbuster, first-ever Life at Sea 3-year world cruise.
Newer, Bigger Cruise Ship
Life at Sea Cruises is a new venture launched by Miray Cruises, a subsidiary of Miray International. Headquartered in Turkey, Miray Cruises has owned and operated passenger vessels as a cruise ship hotel management firm. Miray Cruises and U.S.-based Life at Sea Cruises originally planned to operate the history-making, 3-year world cruise with Miray Cruises’ ship, MV Gemini.
According to CNN, some Life at Sea Cruises team members left the company in May as part of a dispute about the ship and other matters, which raised customer concerns. Now, Miray Cruises may have alleviated some of those with the purchase of an alternative ship.
Miray Cruises recently revealed it has obtained a newer, larger ship for its 3-year Life at Sea world cruise. The bigger ship, to be named MV Lara, provides more staterooms and living areas for residents. According to Miray Cruises CEO Kendra Holmes, “The MV Lara was acquired to accommodate the impressive, unprecedented high demand from cruisers who wanted to book the voyage. We wanted to accommodate as many adventurers as possible without compromising on comfort and space on the ship.”
Kendra Holmes told TravelAwaits the MV Lara has 42,289 gross tons, 634 staterooms, and space for 1,268 passengers, although Miray Cruises will only book the ship to 85 percent capacity. She also commented that the vessel is currently sailing in western Europe and will go into dry dock for any needed refurbishments to become the MV Lara by the end of September into the beginning of October. According to the Miray Cruises’ CEO, MV Gemini will remain with Miray Cruises and continue to operate her 3- and 4-day cruises in the Aegean Sea.
Bucket-List Cruise Itinerary
Miray Cruises’ Life at Sea marathon 3-year journey looks impressive. According to Miray Cruises CEO Kendra Holmes, “Life at Sea Cruises is the world’s first and only 3-year cruise and is also the voyage with the most extensive itinerary and the longest port stops.” The planned itinerary created by Robert Dixon includes 382 ports, seven continents, 148 countries, 103 tropical islands, 13 Wonders of the World, and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The world cruise will include 288 overnight port stays, with multiple days spent in numerous ports of call. This will allow additional time for travelers to explore a wide variety of destinations and sites. Guests can participate in shore excursions and take part in volunteer and philanthropic activities. According to the voyage’s brochure, Life at Sea also plans to set up tee times and transportation to golf courses in many ports.
Family members and friends are welcome to join residents during the Life at Sea voyage. Miray Cruises CEO Kendra Holmes said, “Residents can host one visitor for up to 30 days and two visitors for up to 7 days per quarter. There will also be cabins available for friends and family to rent for up to 7 days.”
Miray Cruises will offer welcoming events in Turkey for all guests prior to boarding. These special events will take place at the same time as the 100th-anniversary revelries celebrating the forming of the Turkish Republic.
Passengers enjoy cruising’s highly-inclusive travel style and fares on Life at Sea’s 3-year voyage cover much of the cruise experience. Cruise prices include meals in all dining venues, alcohol with dinner, high-speed internet, entertainment and performances, enrichment lectures and programming, port fees and taxes, housekeeping and laundry services, and business center access. In addition, the ship will feature an onboard hospital offering free medical visits and a team of medical professionals providing 24-hour, on-call services.
Some aspects of the Life at Sea cruise are not included in the fare, which is the case with many voyages. Prices do not include items such as shore excursions, spa services, alcohol served outside of dinner, permanent office space, medical procedures and medications, and some seasonal onboard premium services.
Cruise Ship Cabins And Public Spaces
Life at Sea Cruises’ floating hotel will feature a variety of stateroom options. Inside cabins are 145 square feet in size, balcony cabins are 210 square feet, and oceanview cabins range from 140–220 square feet. All staterooms have a queen-sized bed, although there are options for two single beds. A limited number of accessible cabins are also offered.
Since residents will be sailing on MV Lara for 3 years, living spaces are an important aspect of life on board. The ship’s public venues are being redesigned for long-term residence so that passengers will feel at home. Very few images of MV Lara’s cabins and living spaces are currently publicly available.
According to Miray Cruises’ CEO, MV Lara will have two dining venues for sit-down and buffet meals. A specialty restaurant will be on board for special occasions and the common areas will offer snacks and other treats at all hours. The ship will also feature a spa and wellness center, pool and sun deck, bars and lounges, and a business center.
Rising Cruise Fares
Prices have escalated significantly since Miray Cruises first announced the Life at Sea Cruise. However, the current fares are for staterooms on the newer, larger ship.
When the Life at Sea world cruise opened for bookings on March 1, the base price of the 3-year voyage was $29,999 per person per year based on double occupancy in an inside cabin. Those initial prices are no longer available. After the announcement of the bigger ship, cruise fares were listed at $38,513 per person per year based on double occupancy in an inside stateroom.
Miray Cruises has now confirmed a current starting price of $43,860 per person per year based on double occupancy. When asked about the rising cruise fares, CEO Kendra Holmes stated, “As with any voyage, prices increase at a steady rate, and the sooner residents book the voyage with us, the lower the price will be.”
The cruise line is offering a 15 percent discount on the double-occupancy rate for solo travelers.
Changing Embarkation Ports
Miami, Florida, was originally one of the three available embarkation ports for Miray Cruises’ Life at Sea world cruise. That embarkation port has been eliminated. The three available ports are now Istanbul on November 1, Barcelona on November 5, and Freeport, Bahamas, on November 15.
Since there is no U.S. embarkation port, it appears Miray Cruises will no longer be required to post a Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) performance bond. This may cause concern for some travelers. The FMC bond protects the passenger deposits of guests embarking in the U.S. in the case of cruise operator non-performance.
When asked about the elimination of the Miami embarkation port, Kendra Holmes told TravelAwaits, “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 10 (out of hundreds) residents requested embarkation in Miami.”
Holmes added, “Given this low number and the flexibility of these residents, we moved the embarkation to Freeport, Bahamas, 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.”
Travel Insurance Availability
Comprehensive travel insurance is important to consider for any upcoming trips. “We are actively searching for a travel insurance partner but have not yet settled on one,” Holmes said. “We estimate to be able to share more information in the fall.”
Travelers generally consider multiple insurance providers and carefully review each policy’s terms. According to Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com, several travel insurers can provide coverage for trips up to $100,000 per person in trip costs, including cruises. Sandberg told TravelAwaits, “Most comprehensive travel insurance policies will max out at 364 days in terms of trip duration. There are standalone travel medical insurance policies that can be purchased for 364 days with the option to renew coverage near the expiration date.”
Sandberg also noted, “While some travel insurers will offer cancellation due to financial default of a travel supplier (such as a cruise line) — and note this applies when a company ceases operations as opposed to entering into a bankruptcy process — many travelers will also consider an optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade, which allows them to cancel for any reason at all.”