What is the biggest problem with traveling? If you disregard the icky tiredness that comes with traveling, the worst nightmare is packing and then unpacking. There are some blessed individuals who have been saved from this trouble even on year long adventures. The residents of “The World” cruise ship are living the life that most of us just dream of.
The biggest, oldest, and the world’s only active residential cruise ship, “The World” has a few dozen residents on board taking them to places around the world at a maximum speed of 18.5 knots. Residents, that collectively own the ship decide the yearly itinerary along with the ship’s captain. So far, the vessel has been on exotic adventures around the world from the tribes of Papua New Guinea to the Russian Arctic for tracking polar bears to retracing Ernest Shackleton’s historic Trans-Antarctic Expedition to kayaking among icebergs.
A Norwegian shipping heir whose family was the pioneer of the modern cruise industry, Knut Kloster Jr. was the owner of the residential cruise ship that has been sailing world’s oceans perpetually. The original plan was to build a much bigger ship, and construction of The World began in 1997, but financial problems incurred the cut down on plans and the 43,000-ton, 12-deck vessel was created, much closer in size to other cruise ships at sea.
Kloster hopes to attract a lot of residents for The World that was completed in 2002. Some paid millions to get a permanent place on the ship, but that was not enough to cover the costs. To manage the losses, owners started to rent out studios and apartments aboard to regular tourists. The permanent residents did not take it very well. One of the residents, William Scott, a retired New York advertising executive talked about the matter saying, “How would you feel if you spent millions for an apartment and people who spent a few hundred dollars had access to the same facilities as you?” John Demartini, another resident, said, “You would get to some ports, and there were three or four hundred people who would come on board. You’re sitting there, and they’re all tramping through your house.”
To get rid of these tourists, the permanent residents formed a council and agreed to buy the unsold apartments for $71 million. This included 86 studios and 37 apartments with 1 to 3 rooms. Ever since then, the residents hold the control of the ship to themselves and choose to sell residents to other places who want to go on the permanent vacation.
There ar 165 homes aboard the giant vessel, including one-room studios priced at around $1 million, to luxurious suites with price tags going as high as $13 million. 130 wealthy families jointly own the ship who sell a place whenever it is available. If you have a million or more in savings and you are planning to get a condo onboard, remember it is going to cost you over $100,000 in annual maintenance fees, and a few thousand dollars for amenities every month.
The people that you might expect to be present onboard must be retired people, and the average age is 64 years old, but 35% of the residents are below the age of 50. Most of the people live aboard permanently, but some spend three to six months on board and rent out the apartments for the rest of the year.
These people do not live off the grid away from any other entertainments. There are several bars, and six restaurants on board that they can choose from. A tea room, multiple pools, golf simulators, a library, cinema, a 7,000-square-foot spa and gym, world’s only life-size tennis court at sea are only some of the many options the residents on board have.
When the ship was first completed in 2002, it did not attract many buyers, but now some rooms have lots of people on the waiting lists. As The World rose to its success, investors were inspired to build residential cruise ships of their own and the most recent one of them is The Utopia. It is a 200-appartment ship double the size of The World. Plans were to get the ship completed by 2016, but there is still another year till the ship sets sail. Learning a lesson from the creators of The World, this ship will have a segregated 200-suite area designated for temporary visitors.