Got a thirst for adventure and a net worth of at least US$10 million? Then allow us to introduce you to your next home: The World, the planet’s largest – and most luxurious – residential yacht.
Picture this: after a day spent on the world’s only full-sized at-sea tennis court, you head to the 7,000-square-foot spa and fitness centre for some hard-earned R&R. You get the kinks worked out and then return to your three-bedroom apartment to prepare for dinner. You clean up using the Bvlgari toiletries that are magically refreshed in your bathroom whenever you run out.
Then it’s time to eat. You dine in one of the six restaurants on board and pair your meal with something from the 12,000-bottle wine collection. You unwind back at your apartment on the wrap-around terrace, then decide to sleep under the stars tonight on one of the open-air “Bali beds.”
Tomorrow: practice rounds with the resident pro on the putting green, a smoke in the Cigar Club, a spot of watch shopping in the showroom, and cocktails in the Plaza.
For a highly selective, well-heeled clientele, that life isn’t just a fantasy. Over one hundred families currently call The World home, all of whom passed a strict vetting process before being allowed to buy. Every one of the 165 luxury apartments on board – worth between $3 million for a studio and $15 million for a three-bedroom – are owned by residents who must have a minimum net worth of $10 million.
“The type of people who buy here have private jets. They collect art. This is not their only residence,” Lisa Spiller, residential director of The World, told CNN.
This lavish vessel, a floating city of multimillionaires, has visited 1,213 ports and sailed 641,000 nautical miles. Three times per year The World ventures on “expeditions” – voyages into unusual destinations like the Ross Sea in Antarctica and Melanesia near New Guinea. Leading environmentalists and academics join the expeditions to host lectures and field trips designed to stimulate educational discussions about the given destination.
Yet despite the ship’s booming success now, the business nearly sank when it launched 15 years ago. The World was initially partially owned by a hotel company, but by 2003, the business model changed to focus solely on residents of a very high net worth.
It was a smart swap. By 2006, all of the residences had sold out. The ship became, and remains, the only entirely residential cruise liner in the world.
But how long will that last? Other cruise ship operators are now eying the luxury residential market. The Utopia, set to launch in 2021, will cost an estimated US$980 million to build. Its 190 residences will be listed for between US$4 million to US$36 million, and its route will tie in to major events like fashion week, the Cannes Film Festival, and the Monaco Grand Prix.
The World and ships like it might not be everyone’s cup of grog, but they sure make a Carnival cruise look like slumming it.