The Bering Strait and Diomede Islands
The World® Makes World History
For those who don't know, there is but one "condo cruise ship," for lack of a better term, in the world. The passengers actually own the suites they occupy much like a vacation timeshare. This one ship is called "The World ®" and it is part of the cruise line "ResidenSea."
Many other companies have tried to build or convert other passenger vessels into condo cruise ships, but ResidenSea remains the only cruise line to have ever successfully built one from the keel up. They then marketed and sold the individual units successfully, and now manage to sail around the world as a working residential cruise ship.
On The World, the residents all have voting rights to determine the ship's future itineraries. In the last few months, The World has chosen to visit some very remote areas including the Bering Sea - traversing the small strait that straddles Alaska and the easternmost point in Russia.
The World became the largest cruise ship ever to stop in Nome Alaska a few days ago - to the delight of locals. Although Alaska is a very popular cruise ship destination, Nome - situated on the Seward Peninsula just across the Bering Strait from Russian territory - is well over 1000 miles away from hot cruise spots like Juneau and Glacier Bay.
From Nome, The World continued north through the strait and approached the Polar ice cap, just 70 miles away, and then approached Wrangel Island in the Russian territory. In all of history, only four private passenger vessels have visited Wrangel Island in Russia, and The World was the first foreign-flagged vessel to do so since 1924. An astounding 104 different sightings of polar bears were counted on this 10-day trek towards Wrangel Island. Most Arctic expedition cruises are lucky to spot more than one polar bear, as I can personally attest just having spent a full week near the remote island of Spitsbergen far north of Norway.
Because The World had landed in Nome, Alaska, it was restricted from re-entering U.S. waters due to the Jones act. Upon its southerly return the ship was required by U.S. law to hug the coast of Russia and the captain chose to traverse the tiny, two-mile wide stretch of water between Little Diomede and Big Diomede Islands in the Russian territory.
More About The World
There are guest suites aboard The World for regular passengers to book and sail just like any other cruise ship. To book one of these, contact Residensea Management Ltd. You will mingle with the regular condo owners and dine in the select restaurants onboard - meals are included in the cruise fare - for guest passengers only. The average cost of a voyage on The World is $2000 per person per day
The partial owners aboard The World generally have very extensive suites which even include kitchens (!) because every resident is responsible for providing their own meals. These fully stocked kitchens include refrigerators, microwaves and even stoves with ovens. If owners need to go shopping for groceries they can do so in the deli onboard - to a limited extent. But if they don't feel like cooking there are also restaurants for elegant dining.
For the most part, however, The World is a private enclave of very wealthy individuals who have bought into partial ownership of the ship because they love a life at sea. The word "privacy" is taken very seriously onboard. Any guest who sails on the ship must first agree not to reveal any names they may come to know as a permanent shareholder/residents of the ship.
With an opening cost of about $700,000 for the smaller condos onboard when the ship first opened, now some of the units are selling for as much as $6 million. In addition, the monthly maintenance fee alone would probably cover the cost of going on a regular cruise several times a year. The clientele onboard did not buy into these condos as investments - they bought them as a lifestyle choice.
Itineraries for The World are planned by the "Ship Owner's Association" about a year in advance. With little need to worry about the possible profitability of a certain itinerary, the group is free to arrange sailings to places few other cruise ships would ever go. They also seek out the world's most exciting places at just the right times. Carnival in Rio is usually on the itinerary, as well as the Monaco Grand Prix and the World Cup races - wherever they may be held. Every four years the Olympics are a must.
As for the residents, their identities are kept very secret and no one is allowed onboard for any reason unless they agree not to reveal the names of anyone who may have partial ownership in the ship. Even cameras onboard are restricted from photographing other residents.
In September 2010, The World will sail from Reykjavik to Quebec to explore Greenland, the globe's largest island. Two Antarctica Expeditions will end the year. The first 10-night sail, from December 23, 2010 - January 2, 2011 will start from $19,500 per person. The second, 18-night voyage, from January 3 - 21, 2011, will begin at $35,100 per person.
new feature articles
Have Declining Prices Led to Declining Civility Onboard?
Though there have been a few hiccups along the way, since Sept. 11/01 the price of cruises have quite consistently floated near historic lows.
Music Cruises Coming Up
Many music cruises are scheduled for early 2010, starting in January. These music-theme cruises have become more successful than you ever imagined.
Tarantulas, Piranhas and Caviar, Oh My!
Braving the wilderness in a luxurious adventure. Silversea's Silver Wind steams up the Amazon from the Atlantic beyond Manaus
Oasis Brings "Suite Life" Evolution
Cruise ship suite staterooms take a great leap forward with Oasis of the Seas' world's first interior-facing balcony cabins
Carnival Triumphant at Family Connections
What are most families ultimately looking for when they cruise? Time apart to enjoy some adult time while children are engaged in the youth program with their peers?
Read about CruiseMates
NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"
NEW CRUISEMATES CRUISES!
Ruby Princess Venetian Fantasy
Travel down the canals of Venice to the Inter-coastal Waterways of Ft. Lauderdale! 18 Amazing nights and six glorious 25 hr. sea days on the most stunning Princess ship yet.
Snoozeman's Galveston Conquest Cruise
Join your CruiseMates Host Snoozeman on the Conquest of Galveston!
Travel from the Lone Star harbor to the Western Caribbean: Galveston to Montego Bay Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
Chef Matt Sigel's Cruise with CruiseMates
Join Chef Matt Sigel's on Norwegian Epic, Halloween Cruise, Oct 30, 2010
Travel from Miami to Costa Maya, Roatan Honduras and Cozumel - 7-days