The brainchild of Norwegian shipping magnate Knut U. Kloster -- he was also behind Norwegian Caribbean Line, which became Norwegian Cruise Line -- The World launched in March 2002. The venue nearly went bankrupt, however, until the residents banded together to buy the ship from the original owners, creating The World of ResidenSea. Apartments were sold out by 2006.
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The World of ResidenSea Cruise Highlights
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Based in Miami, the World of ResidenSea acts as a property manager for the vessel, taking care of hiring, operations and management. Through an elected board of directors, the residents collectively determine the ship's itinerary, upgrades, spending and policies, much like a luxury condo community.
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The world's only residential ship, where passengers own their own apartments, The World does not operate like a regular cruise ship. That's because the ship is not intended to be a cruise, at least in the typical sense, and it's a distinction the company takes seriously.
Thus you'll find none of the hallmarks of a regular cruise onboard. There are few announcements, few planned activities (beyond shore excursions), few shows and an "enrichment manager" instead of a cruise director. There are, however, concierges to help plan time in port; one-of-a-kind shore excursions are also available. While residents are friendly with each other, most stick to their plush apartments and luxurious balconies instead of socializing by the pools.
Onboard apartments range from 290 square feet to 3,054 square feet. There are 40 studios, 19 one- and two-bedroom studios, 106 two- and three-bedroom apartments and a six-bedroom penthouse suite that can house 12 people. The biggest apartments have full kitchens and their own washers and dryers, while the smaller ones have kitchenettes; complimentary laundry units are on the ship and you can also send laundry out for a fee. Apartments have full Internet and satellite phones. All the homes have been sold, although some are available for resale through the company.
Much like a resort, the ship does have amenities to keep its well-heeled residents entertained. There's a movie theater, a 7,000-square-foot salon and spa, a gym with classes and a personal trainer, steam rooms, saunas and an arcade of shops and boutiques. Besides a lovely pool, the ship also boasts a full-size tennis court, golf simulator with dozens of courses to play (there's a golf pro onboard who will also make reservations for guests at courses around the world), a billiard room with a self-leveling table, a library with over 4,000 books (updated constantly with best-sellers) and large Balinese beds that can be booked for overnight stargazing and sleeping outdoors. A small medical clinic is also onboard, as well as an art studio and a chapel.
Dining-wise, residents are spoiled for choice. The ship has four restaurants onboard: East (Asian cuisine), Marina (steaks and seafood), Portraits (haute cuisine) and Tides (Mediterranean and Northern Italian cuisines). There's also Fredy's Deli, which stocks provisions for people to cook in their own rooms and the Poolside Grill. Thirty-five percent of the food is bought fresh, and food and beverage costs are part of the annual ownership fee. (Still, residents pay for their restaurant meals.) The ship's wine cellar has capacity for 12,000 bottles, and there's a full sommelier team. Residents can also take advantage of the Call-A-Chef program to have one of the onboard chefs prepare a meal in their room.
As far as nightlife is concerned, the ship has several bars and lounges onboard. The Cigar Club stocks 40 different kinds of stogies, and there's also the Lobby Bar, the Marina Bar, the Pool Bar, the Regatta Bar and Quantum, a nightclub.
So how do you access all this luxury? Unless you have the funds to invest in The World, you'll have to wrangle your way onboard using other methods. Residents are allowed to have a limited number of guests stay or rent their apartments, and potential residents are invited to experience the ship before making a purchase.
In addition, the private vacation club Exclusive Resorts (launched by AOL founder Steve Case) owns four two-bedroom apartments onboard. Entrance isn't cheap: the initial fee for a Classic five-year membership is $70,000 with annual dues of $1,205 per day for 20 days ($24,100/year). Even if you're a member, access isn't guaranteed; The World is so popular, particularly during holidays, that there's a lottery for dates and sailings.
130 families hail from 19 countries throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and South Africa. Some live on the ship year-round, although most tend to be onboard for three to four months. The ship has an average occupancy of 150 people. Potential buyers must have a minimum net worth of $10 million to buy from World of ResidenSea.
The World of ResidenSea Fleet
The World is the only ship in the World of ResidenSea fleet. Besides the cost of the apartments themselves, owners pay annual homeowner fees that are based on the square footage of the apartments. These fees cover a share of ship preservation, operations, crew compensation and food and beverage onboard.
In a typical year, The World visits five or six continents, including expedition sailings to exotic places such as Greenland and Antarctica. Itineraries are determined two years in advance by a team composed of a resident itinerary committee, the captains and the director of itinerary and destination planning. The ship stays at least one night in most ports, and several nights in world capitals.