MV Gemini is setting sail in its latest guise to offer the world's first -- and only -- three-year world cruise. Constructed in 1992 as Crown Jewel sailing for the former Crown Cruise Line, at the time the vessel was the largest cruise ship to be built at Spain's Union Navale de Levante shipyard. It went on to sail as Cunard Crown Jewel for Cunard, SuperStar Gemini for Star Cruises and, most recently, Celestyal Nefeli for Celestyal Cruises.
Since 2020, it has been owned by Miray International, a long-established Turkish company specializing in ship management, and operated through its cruise arm Miray Cruises. Miray formed the subsidiary travel brand Life at Sea Cruises to run the three-year cruise starting in fall 2023.
***Editor's Note: Failed egotiations between Life at Sea Cruises and Miray International reported in May 2023 have put the arrangement for MV Gemini to operate the three-year World Cruise as scheduled. Reports state the ship may be technically unsuited for a voyage of this range and duration, and could be replaced with another unspecified vessel. ***
Described by Life at Sea Cruises as offering "the ultimate bucket list cruise without having to sacrifice the comforts of home", the ship has undergone an extensive refresh and modernization prior to embarking on the three-year cruise.
The 400 cabins, located across five of the seven passenger decks, lead in with 130-square-foot virtual inside cabins where an HD screen creates the impression of a window. Oceanview cabins ranging in size from 142 to 160 square feet. Suites accommodations include 260-square foot Junior Suites and there are Balcony Suites with living accommodations measuring 210 square feet and verandas that are either 44 or 112 square feet in size. All cabins have a light and contemporary decor.
Public areas include multiple dining and bar options, an auditorium, sun deck, swimming pool and golf simulator. The cruise will include entertainment, enrichment seminars, the opportunity to take part in volunteering and philanthropic initiatives in selected ports of call and optional shore excursions.
There is also a 24-hour on-call fully equipped medical center with, very unusually for a cruise ship, no charge for visits. There are elevators serving all passenger decks and the ship has a laundry, which will be free of charge during the world cruise. All meals, soft beverages, alcoholic drinks with dinner and Wi-Fi are also included in the fare.
While the ship will likely appeal to active seniors and retirees with time to spare and no working commitments, Life at Sea Cruises is looking to attract a younger demographic following the shift towards working from home and remote working created by the pandemic.
The revitalized ship features modern workspace facilities including a business center with 14 offices, meeting rooms, a lounge and library. The staffed center is fitted with LED screens, audio-video equipment, printers and high speed Internet.
Mikael Petterson, Managing Director of Life at Sea Cruises, said: "Professionals need connectivity, the right amenities and the functionality to perform their jobs. There is no other cruise product that offers this sort of flexibility to their customers."
MV Gemini will set sail from Istanbul for the new Life at Sea Cruises brand on November 1, 2023, and passengers will also have the opportunity to embark in Barcelona and Miami.
The ship's ground-breaking 36-month voyage will cover more than 130,000 miles and visit all seven continents. It will take in 135 countries and 375 ports with two to three days spent at each stop. The itinerary will also cross the equator six times and cover 13 of the modern and ancient Wonders of the World including the Pyramids, Acropolis, Taj Mahal, Petra and Machu Picchu. While passengers have to commit to the entire voyage, they have the option of dividing travel with another passenger and taking it in turns to live on the ship, or leave the ship for periods and return to it. Friends and family are also welcome to visit free of charge and can stay in the same stateroom -- rollaway beds are available -- or in a guest cabin.
To make the three-year trip more affordable, Life at Sea has instituted a pay-as-you-go flexible payment plan. Payments can now be made in semi-annual installments, with the first payment of 25% due on June 30, 2023. This first payment is a combination of a 10% deposit and the initial first payment of 15%. Any current resident payment will be credited to that first amount.
After that, 15% of each cruiser’s fare will be due semi-annually, with the next payment due on December 31, 2023.
The ship is 19,093 gross tons and carries 1,074 passengers at full capacity with 340 crew.