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The World: A floating home for the well-heeled

The living room of one of the 165 luxurious condos aboard MS The World, a residential cruise ship.

How would you like to have a ritzy, waterfront condo in every port? If money’s no problem and you’re not prone to seasickness, the 43,524-ton MS The World residential cruise ship may be just the ticket.

That ticket, by the way, for one of its 165 luxurious shipboard condos can cost from $825,000 to $7.3 million.

First, though, you’ll have to prove your net worth exceeds $5 million. Then add another 10 to 15 percent of the purchase price for annual maintenance and other fees based on your apartment size.

The posh 13-year-old vessel is the largest residential cruise ship afloat. Its operating company prefers to call it a private residential yacht with availability of every possible modern convenience in each apartment, including television and Internet service.


Residents, who collectively own the boat and yearly select its itinerary in cooperation with the management team and captain, hail from 19 countries — most from the United States — all of whom are served by about 200 crew members. The average owner is in his or her mid-60s.

Pets and tipping are not allowed.

Miramar, Fla.-based ROW Management Ltd. is in charge of sales, operations, and administration.

The ship has 12 decks, a large lobby, four restaurants, three bars, a cigar lounge, a boutique and showroom, grocery store, deli, fitness center, billiard room, golf simulator and putting greens, full-size tennis court, jogging track, spa, swimming pool, theater, and library.

Entertainment generally is low key, in keeping with the ship’s intimate atmosphere. The nightly performer is likely to be a comedian or a classical, jazz, or pop artist.

This year’s itinerary includes two- and three-day visits to 104 ports in 30 countries on six continents, with expeditions to Antarctica and Greenland.

Along the way there are lectures and classes in dance, language, cooking, arts and crafts, computers, music, and photography.

For most owners, The World serves as a three- or four-month vacation retreat, promising a healthy dose of culture and adventure or just plain relaxation. Few live full time on the ship, and some rent out their apartments from time to time. Rentals are only available for six or more days, with studios going for $1,300-$2,300 a day. Average occupancy on board is 150 to 200 owners and guests.


Those who do live onboard full time and maintain homes in the United States still are subject to government taxes.

An attempt to learn whether there were a Massachusetts owner willing to be interviewed for this story was politely rebuffed.

“One of the benefits of residency on The World is a measure of privacy,” said Leanne Farrell, a London-based spokesperson for ROW Management.

In summer 2012, the 644-foot vessel made history as the largest passenger ship to sail through the Northwest Passage. Credit the glacial retreat under the globe’s warming climate for easing the way.

With 481 passengers aboard, the ship followed the path of Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, the first sailor to complete the 5,400 mile journey in 1906. The Nome, Alaska, to Nuuk, Greenland, trip took 26 days, and was documented by a National Geographic photographer.

The World will be overtaken as the largest residential cruise ship with the scheduled launch in 2016 of the South Korean ship Utopia.

The vessel has 106 two- and three-bedroom apartments (ranging from 1,106 to 3,242 square feet), 19 one-and two-bedroom apartments (624 t0 1,011 square feet), and 40 studios (about 337 square feet).

A Las Vegas couple, Robert and Janet Sabes, owned one of the two-bedroom, two-bath units for nearly six years. They paid $2.8 million for it, they told The Wall Street Journal, and got about the same amount when when it was sold. They normally spent six months a year on the ship, and their annual fees came to about $300,000.


“As much fun as it was,“ said Robert Sabes, a restaurant developer, “there are only so many places a cruise ship can go. Once you’ve been there, you start repeating.”

Until now The World has enjoyed its reputation as the world’s biggest and most exclusive residential cruise ship.

However, it could lose those bragging rights if the Utopia, a $1.1 billion residential cruise ship under construction in South Korea, meets a scheduled 2016 completion date.

Samsung Heavy Industries, one of the world’s largest shipbuilders, is building the vessel with most of the financing coming from the Frontier Group, a St. Louis-based private equity firm. Frank C. Carlucci, a secretary of defense during the Reagan administration, is a cofounder and chairman emeritus of the equity firm.

More than twice the size of The World , the 108,000-ton Utopia will have 199 residences ranging from 1,400 to 6,600 square feet and a 218-room boutique hotel and casino. Its luxury residences are being priced at $3.9 million to $30 million, and a Beverly Hills sales office was opened in 2013 to promote the venture and accept deposits for the condos.

Si Liberman can be reached at siliberm@aol.com.