Skeptics scoffed when the World of ResidenSea was announced in 1997. The $500 million, 86,000-ton, 958-foot combination super luxury condominium-at-sea and exclusive cruise ship was to have 286 multi-million-dollar apartments and 183 hotel-like suites. It'll never float—too big, too expensive, too ambitious, too bizarre. Though ultimately the ship was trimmed to $262 million, about 40,000 tons, 644 feet, 110 residences, and 88 guest suites, World's razzing answer to those early critics will be a "sold out" banner hanging from her funnel. The apartments are selling like hotcakes.
Today, this most innovative, precedent-setting passenger vessel ever built is under construction in a Norwegian shipyard, with a maiden voyage (Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro) set for January 24, 2002. Prestigious Silversea Cruises has signed on to operate the vessel and run the onboard services. Cruise passengers will share all the public facilities with residents: four restaurants, two pools, a full-size tennis court, and a watersports platform that deploys from the stern.
The major difference World will bring to cruising is an estimated 25 days per year in port or at anchor, with stopovers lasting from two to five days. For example, the 2002 schedule includes more than 60 multiple-day calls—Carnival in Rio, the Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Prix of Monaco, and the British Open. Besides a more leisurely pace, everyone on board can look forward to more space. While maximum occupancy is an already-low 1,042, it's estimated that only 285 residents and guests will be on the ship at one time. $2-$6.8 million for two- and three-bedroom apartments; $1,200 per diem for guests. 800-968-9512; www.ResidenSea.com.