Three-Year “Cruise” in Jeopardy as Company Fails to Take Delivery of Ship
Media reports are suggesting that the sale of the AIDAaura cruise ship from Carnival Corporation’s Aida for a planned three-year around the world “endless” cruise is on shaky ground or might have already fallen through. The company promoting the trip, Life at Sea Cruises from Miray Cruises, is insisting that the sale is delayed and that they will still launch their program although possibly delayed by up to two weeks.
The cruise ship has been docked in Bremerhaven, Germany since the completion of her farewell cruise on September 21. Reports are that the handover was scheduled for September 29 but repeatedly delayed. Life at Sea Cruises which is marketing the voyage is admitting that there have been delays in completing the transfer of money to Carnival Corporation but saying it will be completed in the coming days. Reports in Germany are suggesting that the tax authorities are also looking into the purchase.
Life at Sea confirmed to reporters in Turkey and CNN that they had been in Germany for the handover but that it was delayed. They said their crew had voluntarily left the cruise ship because it was not “practical” for them to remain aboard before the handover. They are saying that they hope to return to the ship next week.
It is not the first problem the company has experienced in its plans to launch a cruise that they have promoted as lasting 1,095 days and visiting 382 ports. Pricing was announced at $30,000 per year with the company first showing the pictures of a smaller cruise, the Gemini (19,000 gross tons) as the vessel that would make the cruise. In June, however, the company said it was switching to a larger vessel that would be more comfortable for the extended trip. Pricing was adjusted to reflect as much as $115,000 for the three years with current reports suggesting some of the best cabins were listed for nearly $600,000 for the trip. They only identified the ship as the Lara saying she was 42,289 gross-tons with 627 cabins that accommodate 1,266 passengers. The company said it would be more spacious by limiting occupancy to 80 percent of capacity.
Announced plans for the Lara are that the ship was to have moved to a dry dock in Rotterdam for an overhaul to prepare her for the trip. They had said in addition to the overhaul they would be adding features such as a wine bar and cigar lounge.
The website is still reflecting the departure as November 1 from Istanbul with additional stops in Barcelona on November 5 and Freeport, Grand Bahama Island on November 15. Reports are that the ship might now begin the voyage several weeks later from Amsterdam or in the Bahamas.
In the meantime, CNN spoke with anxious people who had paid for the trip and were reportedly making final preparations for their departure. The people are saying that they are awaiting word from the company on the plans while Miray is telling the media they are making arrangements for people while the ship is delayed.
AIDA had announced at the beginning of 2023 that the AIDAaura, their third ship built 20 years ago, would be retired this year. She marks the fourth cruise ship removed from the brand since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The company’s original ship was sold and is operating in the Black Sea as the Astoria Grande sailing from Russia. The second ship, AIDAvita, a sister to the AIDAaura remains laid up in Tallinn, Estonia under the name Avitak. A fourth ship which AIDA acquired from its sister brand Costa operated briefly before the pandemic and was sold becoming the Ambition which entered service this year in the UK.