'Life at Sea' Customers Fight to Get Their Money Back

They claim misrepresentation and fraud in wake of failed 3-year-old cruise
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2024 11:52 AM CST
Their Cruise Dreams Vanished. They Say Their Money Did, Too
It appears nothing could keep the Life at Sea cruise afloat.   (Getty Images/Pla2na)

The people who signed up for a now-canceled three-year Life at Sea cruise around the world didn't just see their dreams evaporate. They saw their money disappear, too, they say, and they're hoping a US attorney will help them get it back. The Washington Post reports it obtained a copy of the letter sent to US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe last Tuesday from 78 people who hope Lapointe's office will open a criminal probe into Miray Cruises, the company behind the scuttled trip of a lifetime. The letter alleges would-be passengers lost an estimated $16 million in deposits due to what amounts to misrepresentation and fraud (the company marketed the cruise without having secured a ship) on Miray's part.

Business Insider reports the letter alleges that millions were used to place a deposit on a ship that was never purchased, despite the company saying customers' deposits wouldn't be used in that manner. The New York Times elaborates, alleging Mikael Petterson, the former managing director of Life at Sea, was in May 2023 told the company needed another $5 million for a deposit on a ship and was urged to collect passenger deposits by May 31. The Times writes that unnerved Petterson, as the company didn't have an escrow account or any US bank account and "wasn't required to place a bond with the Federal Maritime Commission to protect customer deposits because it was not embarking from US ports."

The letter describes some of Miray's customers as now homeless, living in motels, or bunking with friends—some sold their homes, while others terminated their leases in anticipation of having a home at sea from November 2023 onward—and blames that in part on "the failure of Miray to refund passenger money as promised." The letter alleges only four passengers have gotten any money refunded, despite the company's promise that refunds would be paid in three installments, from December through February. Miray says a high volume of credit card charge-back disputes have prevented the refunds from being processed, but some customers tell the Times they didn't file such a dispute until Miray had already missed some of its stated repayment dates. (Read more on the cancellation.)

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