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Would-Be Passenger on Canceled 3-Year Cruise Had Reportedly Sold House to Make the Trip: 'Devastated'

Meredith Shay told the 'Sunday Times' she paid $562,000 for a seventh-floor balcony cabin on the ship

<p>Getty</p> The deck of an expedition cruise ship

Getty

The deck of an expedition cruise ship

One woman who planned to set sail on Life at Sea Cruises’ three-year journey — which was canceled in November — had reportedly sold her home to make the voyage.

Meredith Shay, a former flight attendant, told the Sunday Times she paid $562,000 for a seventh-floor balcony cabin on the ship.

The cruise was originally scheduled to leave from Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 1, and visit seven continents, 135 countries and 375 ports. But after it was postponed twice, Life at Sea revealed to passengers on Nov. 17 that the cruise was officially canceled as it had no ship ready on which to sail them, according to CNN.

“I was desperate to see Namibia for the first time — and the Seychelles,” said Shay, who lives in Florida and was planning to board the cruise in the Bahamas on Nov. 15. “And the coast of India.”

Another perk for her was not having to cook or drive for three years.

“I had my own little pity party,” Shay recalled of finding out the news, while living with her girlfriend in Fort Lauderdale, after selling many of her belongings. “I walked around being devastated for about 12 hours.”

<p>Getty</p> A promenade deck on a cruise ship

Getty

A promenade deck on a cruise ship

When she went to a warehouse to pick up the possessions she intended to bring on the cruise, she said “a whole wave of sadness came over me again, looking at everything I so meticulously packed — you know, the seasickness pills, summer T-shirts and all the vitamins for three years. It brought it all back, the preparation.”

Shay said passengers were “in disbelief” when they learned the news.

Related: 3-Year World Cruise Abruptly Canceled 2 Weeks Before It Was Scheduled to Set Sail

“It was so close to departure,” she added. “People had let out their homes, put their entire lives on hold.”

Shay was the first passenger to sign up for the headline-making trip when cruise line Miray International, which owns Life at Sea, officially started accepting bookings for the first-of-its-kind world voyage aboard its MV Gemini ship.

The company later decided that the vessel was too small for the cruise and planned to buy a larger ship, the AIDAaura, which was set to be renamed the MV Lara, CNN reported.

After passengers were told that the sale was taking longer than expected, news broke that another company, Celestyal Cruises, bought the ship on Nov. 16.

<p>Getty</p> Lifebelt at an outside deck of a cruise ship

Getty

Lifebelt at an outside deck of a cruise ship

The following day, Life at Sea’s former CEO, Kendra Holmes — who had resigned just days before the sale fell through — announced the cruise was canceled in a 15-minute video given to passengers, one of whom shared it with CNN.

Related: Passport Delays Cause Maryland Couple to Miss Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip: 'Devastating' (Exclusive)

On Nov. 19, guests received a message from Vedat Ugurlu, the owner of Miray International, who also said the cruise would not be departing, per CNN.

Ugurlu claimed that Miray is not “big” enough to afford the ship, but the cruise line had “presented the project to investors, and had official approval from some of them to buy the vessel,” and after making a down payment on the ship, the investors “declined to support us further due to unrest in the Middle East,” per CNN.

Miray also vowed to refund those who signed up for the cruise.

“There’s a whole lot of people right now with nowhere to go, and some need their refund to even plan a place to go — it’s not good,” one guest anonymously told CNN.

“I had the next three years of my life planned to live an extraordinary life, and now [I have] nothing. I’m having a hard time moving forward,” another passenger told CNN. “I was proud and feeling brave, now I don’t trust anyone or anything. I know it’ll work out and life will go on, but I’m uncertain of the direction.”

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