February 6, 1998 in Features

Sail The High Seas, Never Leave Home

Alan J. Heavens Philadelphia Inquirer
 

In 2000 - or perhaps in late 1999 - a very fortunate few will be able to circumnavigate the globe continuously without leaving home.

That’s because home will be aboard a ship that its Norwegian owners hope will spend eternity sailing the seven seas.

The ship will be called the World of ResidenSea. When completed, the 85,000-ton, 953-foot vessel will have 250 apartment-style homes ranging from 1,100 to 3,200 square feet, with prices from $1.2 million to $4.3 million.

The World, as it’s called for short, will spend 250 days in port each year - a week in most places, with extended stays in interesting places, such as three weeks planned for the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, in September 2000.

The first world cruise will begin either in late 1999 or the first half of 2000, depending on when the ship is delivered, according to Robert Burnett, president of ResidenSea (USA) Inc. in New York.

Before signing a construction contract, the owners are waiting until the value of binding contracts for the units exceeds $100 million, which Burnett expects to happen by year’s end. With almost $55 million in binding contracts after three months on the market, things are well on their way.

A binding contract requires a down payment of 10 percent against the purchase price, he said.

When someone expresses an interest in buying a unit, the person signs an agreement of sale and pays a $5,000 deposit.

“They have 28 working days for their lawyers to check out the details,” Burnett said. “If they decline, they will get the deposit back. If they don’t, the deposit will be applied to the down payment.”

ResidenSea is holding $5,000 deposits on units, which, if sold, would account for $100 million more in sales, Burnett said.

Down payments are kept in interest-bearing accounts. If the ship isn’t built, repayment is guaranteed, Burnett said.

The offering is being made both in Western Europe and in the United States. In America, the owners turned to Christie’s Great Estates and its extensive list of clients for leads, with great success.

Buyers will pay an annual homeowner’s fee that will be determined using the square footage of each unit - for example, the owner of a 1,110-square-foot unit would pay $5,000 a year. The fee is based on the cost of operating the ship for a year and will be shared by ResidenSea and the homeowners, Burnett said.

Among the items covered by the fee are daily maid service, port charges, staff salaries, dry docking and maintenance, insurance, and membership in the ResidenSea Club, which will be on the three top decks of the ship and include seven restaurants and cafes, nightclubs, a theater, movies, live music, casinos, shopping, a driving range and putting green, a tennis court, two swimming pools (one under an all-weather dome), a health spa and a track.

Club members also will have reciprocal privileges at other private clubs around the world.

The average age of buyers is 55, Burnett said.

“The majority are private individuals, rather than corporations,” he added. “Most are planning to live on board three or four months a year and then rent their units out the rest of the time.”

For the first two years after the vessel is launched, it will follow an itinerary set by the company and the ship’s officers and crew. Thereafter, itineraries will reflect residents’ interests.

It’s obviously a charmed life for those who can afford it. Concierge and round-the-clock room service and security staff. Doctors and nurses on call 24 hours a day. X-ray and operating facilities.

Onboard business facilities that include a licensed stockbroker and a licensed bond trader, a central office services center with color copier, fax, satellite phone, print shop and personal computers and secretarial and translation services.

Buyers can combine two or more of these residences to create a custom home. All homes will have two bedrooms, each with a bathroom; a fully equipped kitchen; living/dining room area and a terrace with a whirlpool. Residents will select furniture and furnishings from several design collections. They can use the ship’s interior designers or hire their own.

Because of quarantine laws of various countries, no pets are allowed. On the other hand, there are no real estate taxes.

And every house has an ocean view.

For More Information: Call ResidenSea (USA) Inc. at (800) 799-9792.


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