For anyone who has ever struggled with the idea of spending their savings buying a home or using it all to travel the world, condo cruises present a perfect solution.
These floating communities are increasingly popular modes of fulfilling travel fantasies — without having to leave the comforts of home. Plus, every home is oceanfront.
The World, a luxury ocean liner, calls itself a “residential yacht” and is the most famous ocean residence, as well as the largest and oldest, having set sail in 2002. And, according to our research, it seems to be the only active one right now.
However, the idea of a permanent home at sea seems to be picking up.
The World will soon be joined by The Utopia, a 200-unit condo cruise ship that will be almost twice the size of The World, built to the tune of around $US1.1 billion and set to launch next year, as well as The Marquette, which will have 185 residences navigating 5,500 miles of rivers and 1,100 miles of Intracoastal Waterways in the US year-round.
The Marquette is currently 42% presold and expects to launch in 18 months. Its apartments range in cost from $US327k to $US1.2 million.
While prices aren’t available yet, they were quoted as being in the multi millions, and the ship compared to New York’s uber luxe Baccarat hotel.
On the luxurious World, which has 165 residences ranging from studio apartments to three bedrooms, as well as a six bedroom penthouse suite, apartments start at $US1 million and reach up to $US13 million. Then there’s the hefty annual ownership charge (for maintenance, operations, crew compensation, and food and drinks), which, depending on the size of the apartment, can be another 10% or more of the purchase price.
However, residents of this “community-at-sea” collectively own the ship, and can thus choose their own itinerary along with the captain. This year, The World will stop at 104 ports in 30 countries, covering around 41,000 nautical miles.
The itinerary includes three in-depth expeditions; the Namibia & Mid-Atlantic Expedition, which goes from Cape Town to the Canary Islands; the Greenland Expedition, which explores the remote Faroe islands; and the Antarctica Expedition, which passes through the Panama Canal.
So far, residents have kayaked among icebergs, visited native tribes in Papua New Guinea, tracked polar bears in the Russian Arctic, and gone scuba diving in St. Barths. In 2012, The World became the largest passenger ship to make it through the Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic.
Units on The World range from studios to three bedrooms, and each unit features a kitchen (there’s a grocery shop onboard, as well as plenty of port calls in which to stock up), spacious living and dining areas, en-suite bathrooms for every bedroom, and multiple verandas depending on your apartment size.
The luxury ship has a 7,000-square-foot spa and gym, a jogging track, two pools, a tennis court, golf facilities including a golf simulator, putting green and driving range, as well as four restaurants, a deli, a grill, five bars, a tea room, and private chefs for hire.
Like a floating village, the ship also features an art gallery, movie theatre, florist, grocery market, library, chapel and medical center, and a constant stream of activities like lectures and plays, classes in cooking, arts and crafts and dance, and nightly entertainment.
There’s also a concierge that’s able to organise hard-to-get reservations and access to exclusive events around the world, like private dinners Michelin-starred restaurants.
While the average age aboard The World is 64, a solid 35% is under 50. Most residents use these condos as second homes, and stay on the ship for a few months at a time, renting them out for the rest of the year.
Basically, living on a condo cruise ship means avoiding the usual travel hassles — packing, unpacking, lost luggage, customs, etc. Plus, it means travelling with a pretty international set of neighbours; families on The World hail from 19 different countries, and the crew of 260 from 40 different countries.
Residents have two to five day stops at each port, and can join or leave the ship at any point, as itineraries are usually set two years in advance.
The only alternative to this kind of lifestyle is buying a yacht, which makes buying a condo on a cruise ship look like a steal.