A life of lux­ury on the high seas

On­board swim­ming pools, six restau­rants, a ten­nis court, a putting green and more – find out how the elite spend their time on the world’s only res­i­den­tial cruise ship

DRUM - - Contents - COM­PILED BY KIM ABRAHAMS

IT’S the jewel of the high seas, a huge float­ing par­adise in which the rich­est of the rich cross the wa­ters of the world while liv­ing in unimag­in­able lux­ury. And the glis­ten­ing white ves­sel is so ex­clu­sive even the crème de la crème of Hol­ly­wood are not wel­come. In fact, the 165 lav­ish apart­ments on the 12-deck beauty aren’t even avail­able for rent. In­stead, po­ten­tial pas­sen­gers have to buy the plush pads on The World out­right – but only if they pass a se­ries of checks first.

A stu­dio flat on what’s been called a “condo cruise liner” will set you back a cool $3 mil­lion (R45 mil­lion) and if you’re look­ing for a more spa­cious op­tion, there’s a three-be­d­room apart­ment for a hefty $15 mil­lion (R225 mil­lion).

Which would be a drop in the ocean for Tin­sel­town’s rich and fa­mous – but there’s a catch. To get your hands on a slice of The World you need to be in­vited. And it seems the less fa­mous you are, the bet­ter.

In fact, get­ting your hands on an apart­ment is pretty tricky. First, po­ten­tial buy­ers are re­quired to have a net worth of at least $10 mil­lion (R150 mil­lion).

They also have to get two ex­ist­ing res­i­dents to vouch for them and pass a se­ries of back­ground checks as well as fork out $900 000 (R13,5 mil­lion) a year in main­te­nance fees for the larger units.

“I don’t think even Oprah Win­frey would be al­lowed to buy here,” Lil­lian Veri said mat­ter-of-factly.

The Cana­dian IT bil­lion­aire, who’s owned one of the three-be­d­room res­i­dences on The World for nearly 10 years, said, “There’s a code of con­fi­den­tial­ity and pri­vacy. We don’t want pa­parazzi here. This boat is a refuge, a sanc­tu­ary.

“You’ll never find out who else lives here.”

THE World was the brain­child of Knut Ut­stein Kloster Jnr, a Nor­we­gian ship­ping mag­nate whose fam­ily has ex­ten­sive his­tory in the ma­rine in­dus­try. The ship’s ex­te­rior was con­structed in Swe­den be­fore it was towed to Nor­way for com­ple­tion.

The 196m-long ves­sel was launched in March 2002 when it sailed the seas of Oslo for the first time and was avail­able for pur­chase by res­i­dents the fol­low­ing year.

But it was any­thing but smooth-sail­ing for the young ves­sel.

Ini­tially the ship was par­tially owned by a ho­tel com­pany, Lil­lian ex­plained. The sixth floor was re­served for ho­tel rooms and the money made from rent­ing these apart­ments would be used to sub­sidise the res­i­den­tial side of The World.

But the ren­tals just weren’t bring­ing in enough money and The World was forced to change its struc­ture.

So from 2003 tourists were no longer al­lowed on board – only filthy rich res­i­dents. The new busi­ness plan worked and by 2006 all of the ac­com­mo­da­tion had sold out. To date it’s the only res­i­den­tial cruise ship in the world.

To­day rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the 142 fam­i­lies who live on board serve as share­hold­ers and vote on ev­ery­thing from the fuel used to the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.

“The peo­ple who buy here are suc­cess­ful in one way or an­other,” Lil­lian said.

“Lawyers, doc­tors, ar­chi­tects, en­trepreneurs . . . They have opin­ions on how things should be run.”

Most res­i­dents spend about six months a year on board, San­dra Mooney, the gen­eral man­ager, says. Oc­cu­pancy peaks at Christ­mas but even so, the ship – built for a max­i­mum of 600 peo­ple – never ex­ceeds 330 peo­ple on board.

Of the 142 fam­i­lies, half are North Amer­i­cans and about 45 Euro­pean, with the av­er­age age of res­i­dents be­ing 64. There are even 20 South Africans who own a slice of The World.

By the be­gin­ning of 2017 The World had vis­ited a to­tal of 1 213 ports and glided more than a mil­lion kilo­me­tres across the oceans of the world.

In 2018 res­i­dents set off from Mi­ami and soaked up the sun in the Car­ib­bean. From there it was on to the east­ern coast of South Amer­ica be­fore cross­ing the At­lantic to the is­lands of Cape Verde. They spent spring in the Mediter­ranean, and sum­mer in Western and North­ern Europe.

Last month saw them ex­plor­ing the Bri­tish Isles, be­fore re­turn­ing to the Mediter­ranean and head­ing to the Ca­nary Is­lands.

The last leg of this year’s ad­ven­tures will in­clude the vol­canic is­lands of As­cen­sion and St He­lena, be­fore ring­ing in 2019 in Cape Town. What a life!

THERE’S plenty for res­i­dents to do on the ship. There are two pools, the first full-size at-sea ten­nis court, out­door putting greens and a state-of-the-art golf sim­u­la­tor, a spa and a full-size movie the­atre show­ing the lat­est block­busters.

There’s also a bou­tique cloth­ing store and a kids’ area packed with a va­ri­ety of gam­ing con­soles, iMacs and a foos­ball ta­ble.

When it comes to culi­nary de­lights, res­i­dents are spoilt for choice. There are six restau­rants on board, in­clud­ing a steak­house, a pool­side café, a deli and a Miche­lin-level fine-din­ing eatery that serves “some of the finest haute cui­sine, not just at sea, but any­where across the globe”, ac­cord­ing to The World’s web­site.

But for those on board it’s about more than just liv­ing in the lap of lux­ury and float­ing to the most beau­ti­ful parts of the world. “We feel this is our fam­ily,” San­dra said. “We have our fam­ily at home and we have our fam­ily on board. It’s lovely.”

‘I don’t think even Oprah Win­frey would be al­lowed to buy here’

2

The World cruise ship has two lux­u­ri­ous on­board swim­ming pools. 2 Although it has a ca­pac­ity of 600 there are rarely more than 330 peo­ple on board. 3, 4 & 5 Suites are spa­cious and equipped with their own kitchens although res­i­dents have sev­eral on­board din­ing es­tab­lish­ments to choose from – in­clud­ing a Miche­lin-level eatery.

3

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