Many cruise-lovers fantasize about living on ships for extended periods of time or even permanently. A new residential cruise ship community called Storylines, scheduled to launch in Asia in late 2023, hopes to make the dream of living on a ship more affordable, opening up the possibility to a broader segment of the population, writes Irene S. Levine for an article published in Forbes.
For devotees of the cruising lifestyle, it’s a way to visit new places, make new friends, and experience new adventures on land and shore by day, while enjoying the comforts of cocoon-like staterooms at night along with captivating around-the-clock ocean views.
To realize this dream,
- some travelers book extended world cruises (generally 90-120 days in length);
- others opt for sequential back-to-back cruises on one or more cruise lines.
- Since its launch in 2002, an opulent condo-style yacht called The World has offered another possibility: the purchase of multimillion dollar “residences at sea.”
Residential cruise ship community
However, a new residential cruise ship community called Storylines, scheduled to launch in Asia in late 2023, hopes to make the dream of living on a ship more affordable, opening up the possibility to a broader segment of the population.
It aims to attract not only wealthy retirees but also families and the growing number of location-independent workers. The line recently announced that it was taking pre-sale deposits for their first ship.
Strong interest shown
“The announcement is certainly an interesting one,” comments Colleen McDaniel, Editor-in-Chief of Cruise Critic.
“We continue to hear from cruise travelers that there’s a strong interest in retiring at sea to be able to take a passion and truly immerse themselves in it, once they have the time and financial abilities to do so. And for others who love cruising, there’s no better scenario than being able to do it for an extended period of time,” she added.
Forbes.com spoke with Alister Punton, one of the line’s principal founders (along with Shannon Lee), to learn more about the brand and plans for the new vessel:
- What can you tell us about the ship?
Alister Punton (AP): The Storylines ship is scheduled to launch from Asia in late 2023. It will be built in China with finishing work (such as interiors) and other key components completed by our European trade partners. We have partnered with some of the industry’s biggest names to deliver the cleanest, greenest and most modern ship available today.
The new vessel is designed to foster an active global residential lifestyle. All of the 627 residential units available for sale are configured as doubles although suites can be configured to host more residents in up to four double-bedrooms.
2. What demographic do you think Storylines will appeal to?
AP: Our prospective residents are more representative of a small city than any particular segment of the market. Interestingly, many are not your typical cruisers. They come from diverse backgrounds and include professionals, business owners, those who can work remotely, families with homeschooled children and those no longer working. Our primary focus is on filling the ship with the right people who resonate well with our eight core principles .
3. How will itineraries be chosen?
AP: The ship’s itinerary is fixed for the first 3½ years with plans to complete a full circumnavigation of the globe in that time. We plan to spend 3-5 days in most ports; even most one-day ports will include an overnight.
Flexible Days’ are built into the itinerary that can be changed to suit the desires of the residents on board. For example, this might mean staying longer in one destination, or voting on another entirely different destination for the next week. We also plan ‘Home at Sea’ days, when the ship will be at anchor at premium locations (such as the waters around the islands of Croatia) allowing residents to enjoy the waterside marina, go fishing, kayaking, scuba diving or head to a deserted local island for some bush-walking or beach-fired marshmallows. The choices are really endless.
4. Will the public spaces/amenities be any different than those on conventional cruise ships?
AP: As our residents won’t change every two weeks, we have designed public spaces that are more akin to those of a luxury resort than that of a tourist cruise ship. Think: wine and juice bars, yoga studios, pop up restaurants, cooking facilities, library, marina with all the toys, tech support bar, deli and market, onboard hydroponics farms, and even a microbrewery.
We will have over 40 resident lounges on board the ship. These are private spaces where ‘locals’ can relax in comfort, do some work, read a book; cook a meal; or entertain friends, family or guests without having to be in the main public spaces. Some of these spaces include a hot tub, bar service and cabanas.
5. What dining options will be available to owners?
AP: The food offerings on the ship will be unlike any other, from the fresh produce grown on board to the resident lounges with full kitchen cooking facilities. We have reinvented the whole restaurant space and removed the big dining hall type setup by creating many smaller boutique-style food outlets, meaning that residents will be able to walk through one of the food areas (just as they would on land) to find a ‘Main Street USA’ area with smaller 50-seat restaurants or ‘hole in the wall’ Chinese-style dumpling house, or go to a restaurant with a menu featuring food grown on board the ship.
We will have a market garden produce and regular staples that changes weekly as well as regional specific cheese and deli items. Residents will be able to choose what they want, cook the food themselves or have it cooked, and enjoy their creations on the rear deck or on one of the five indoor or outdoor viewing platforms and seating areas overlooking the marina and lower pool areas.
There will be options to suit everyone’s tastes, wants and desires. As with many aspects of Storylines, residents will have input as to the types of cuisine and restaurant styles to be featured on board.
6. What medical resources will be available on board?
AP: A team of doctors, pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists and a range of other remedial and ancillary medical professionals will be aboard to care for our residents. Spending over 85% of our time in port or cruising close to land, means we will be close to world-class hospitals for any unexpected medical emergencies, with the onboard helicopter ready to be used for any medevac situations. We will also carry the latest medical equipment which means we will be able to handle many situations on board, too.
7. Will the ship be any different technologically from other cruise ships?
AP: This ship will be the cleanest and greenest ship sailing when launched. We will run mainly on liquified natural gas (LNG) with the ability to run other fuels if and when required. We will also have a number of power generation facilities with battery banks to run ship generators and auxiliary power for much of the time. Our itinerary is very slow-paced meaning that our annual emissions will be close to a traditional tourist ship’s monthly output.
Growing tons of food right on board with over 8000 square feet of growing space, we expect most of the herbs and leafy greens to come directly from the ship. We are proud to offer two world’s firsts: ship-to-plate food production and a restaurant dedicated to only serve food grown onboard.
High-speed data everywhere on board means guests who work remotely can access all their favorite sites and programs from anywhere.
8. How is this concept like or unlike that of a vacation timeshare?
AP: Storylines’ residents wholly own their space and can decorate it to their tastes. They can live in it, rent it out, leave it vacant and, of course, sell it. Residents will also have input into choosing experiences on board the vessel and ashore including destinations, entertainment and dining.
9. What is it exactly that an owner “owns?”
AP: Residents will own the exclusive right to a lease for their chosen residential unit on the ship for the term specified. We offer terms from 12 to 60 years. At the end of the vessel’s oceangoing life, the owners will have the option to rollover into another ship in the Storylines fleet without the need to repurchase, making it possible for residents to really own their residential cruise space forever. Cruise condo-cabins can be resold if the resident wishes or rented out to provide rental income to offset their costs to live onboard.
10. What about pricing?
AP: This phase of pricing starts from just $352,235 with current discounts reducing entry pricing to under $297,000. Monthly fees break down primarily by room size and are payable quarterly. All-inclusive monthly fees begin as low as $1,928 per month per person (twin share). These fees include dining and entertainment as well as the costs of running the ship, including port fees, crew, gratuities and maintenance. When residents are not aboard, their residential unit can be rented out, providing a lucrative return to offset their own lifestyle.
11. Finally, why did you choose the name “Storylines?”
AP: We wished to reflect the difference between our new brand and traditional cruise lines: Storyline offers residents an opportunity to create and continuously re-craft their own life stories, and share in the life stories of others. No other residential ship exists today that is dedicated to a floating global lifestyle that is both affordable and a genuine community at sea.
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