Villa Vie Odyssey and its life at sea concept still in Belfast dry dock after several delays

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Life at sea for passengers Villa Vie Residences’ world cruise ship Villa Vie Odyssey has been delayed yet again.

The cruise company has postponed, for the third time in two weeks, the launch of its only ship, the 929-guest, 31-year-old former MS Braemar.

After four years out of service, the Braemar was acquired by the company from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in March and is still undergoing a dry dock renovation in Belfast, Northern Ireland to be relaunched as Villa Vie Odyssey.

The new launch date is confirmed as 21 June more than over a month later than the ship’s original debut of 15 May. The ongoing delays are problematic for guests who have already booked travel to, or have arrived in, Belfast, the starting point for the vessel’s inaugural 3.5-year world cruise.

The 1993 Spanish-built ship was originally set to enter service in Southampton on May 15.

Villa Vie COO Kathy Villalba claimed in social media chats with ship residents that the vessel is almost ready to enter service.

“Delays are inevitable with the cruise industry. Every cruise line suffers them,” she said in response to one comment. “We are the only residential cruise in this space and have garnered a lot of attention – more good than bad thankfully. We will continue to be committed to our residents and keep the transparency with them. We are nearly finished.”

Drydock extensions and last-minute issues are being blamed for the delay. That includes issues with the ship’s grey water tanks and a rudder supply problem. Villa Vie Residences said it is assisting guests who have already arrived in Northern Ireland to board the ship, offering accommodations, transportation and excursions.

The Villa Vie Residences model is based on operating continuous world voyages, each with a duration of 3.5 years, bought the ship in March 2024.

A Villa Vie Odyssey concept image.

The Fort Lauderdale-based Villa Vie Residences residence-at-sea program offers cabins for sale om its continuously operating global cruises lasting every 3.5 years. Rates start at US$99,999 (AU$150,000) for an inside cabin, US$299,999 for a balcony stateroom, and UA$349,999 for a balcony suite.

Prices are inclusive of food and beverages; housekeeping and laundry; medical support; WiFi; use of all public spaces, and more. The ship’s world cruises will visit 147 countries and more than 400 destinations.

There is also a pay-as-you-go deal where cruisers can buy world cruise segments from 35 to 120 days.

The Miray cruises concept sank.

Other life-at-sea concepts have either sunk or are struggling. Miray Cruises abruptly cancelled its three-year-long cruise in November 2023, prompting 78 passengers, including Australians, to seek legal action against the cruise line’s parent company. Some of those behind the Miray concept are now onboard at Villa Vie, including boss Mikael Petterson.

Victoria Cruises Line, meanwhile, offered cabins on a luxury liner with “luxury suites and premium staterooms” for a minimum of six months. It was supposed to launch a year ago but is now the subject of an investigation by US authorities after passengers, also including Australians, failed to have their US$10,000 (AU$15,000) deposits returned.

At last report Victoria Cruises Line had yet to secure a vessel despite securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits.

3-year-long cruise passengers look to sue over last-minute cancellation

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