Have you ever woken up on a cruise ship, stood on your balcony, watched the sun rise over the crystal blue water and wished every day could start like this?
By 2023, this could be a reality for up to 1,000 MV Narrative residents. The new ship promises to allow ordinary people to travel around the world in luxury without leaving their homes.
The American startup behind the project is called Storylines Inc. and is led by Australian CEO and co-founder Alistair Panton and British co-founder Shannon Lee. Punton describes the concept as a living ship for like-minded travelers to join the community and travel the world in luxury.
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Casuals may be a small step in terms of affordability, but Storylines’ model puts the offshore lifestyle within reach of a larger group than its competitors. The list is short, with the best known being residential Mir, where buyers must demonstrate a net worth of at least $5 million.
Implementing the concept of community at sea
Storylines launched in 2016 and has had a shaky journey to its current state on the verge of construction. Originally the plan was to convert the old vessel to an accommodation model, but after a number of unsatisfactory fishing expeditions it was decided to order a new vessel. This not only gives naval architects and designers the freedom to pursue the vision of the founding fathers of the marine community, but also allows them to take advantage of important technological developments.
Storylines’ business model involves passengers paying rent in advance for 12 to 60 years. There are 627 housing units for sale, and many are already on deposit, according to the company’s website.
Current prices start at just over $300,000 for a 237-square-foot indoor cabin and go up to $2.5 million for a spacious two-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot suite. Most homes have balconies, these 334 square feet start at around $500,000. The apartments of the lodge can be resold or rented out during the rental period at the tenant’s discretion to generate income to offset expenses during the stay.
Punton explains that flexible design and innovative storage were essential to the specification. Cabins have flexible furnishings, including queen-size furniture that folds down to make room for a desk or dining table. Buyers can consult with Storylines’ design consultants at the new Miami location to customize their cabins.
Monthly contribution covers food, drinks and entertainment
As with land-based condominiums, a monthly fee is charged for the upkeep of the vessel, furnishings and amenities. But Storylines’ rates, which start at $2,365 per person per month, include much more: all meals served at more than 20 unique restaurants or delivered to your cabin; wine, beer and select spirits; fees; high-speed Wi-Fi; laundry pickup, laundry and folding; onboard activities and entertainment; doctor’s visits on board; yoga and fitness classes; and full use of the gym.
There’s everything you’d expect from a ship this size, but we’ve changed everything to allow for this long-term lifestyle on board, Pantone explains in a video promoting the concept.
In addition to the more than 20 restaurants scattered throughout the ship, which serve all types of cuisine and change regularly depending on the ship’s location, there are also 45 break rooms, work areas, libraries and kitchens scattered throughout the ship so you can prepare meals for your friends and family.
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Other facilities on board include a cinema, a library with more than 10,000 books, a microbrewery and a hydroponic garden where herbs, spices and other foods will be produced. One of the restaurants will be dedicated to serving the ship’s food, which Storylines attributes primarily to the cruise industry. There will be a spa and fitness center, a juice bar and a lounge. At the back of the ship will be a marina with kayaks, snorkeling equipment and sailboats.
Entertainment is offered both indoors and outdoors and includes music, dancing, cooking classes, hobby clubs and much more. There will also be enrichment in the form of guest speakers and local experts who will enhance the onshore experience at the ports.
They are people from all walks of life.
Punton says Storylines wants to attract a wide range of travel and adventure enthusiasts, from active retirees to professionals working in remote areas to families who want to teach at home.
He thanked a group of early backers, now known as the Founders’ Circle, for their help in designing and refining the concept, sharing their ideas about what they would like to see incorporated into the ship, how they would like to live on board and the itinerary.
They are people from all walks of life who believe in the fundamentals of discovery, onboard lifestyle, interactive experiences, community involvement, contributing rather than exploiting, conscious thinking and shared ownership of ships, according to the company’s website. The site also features videos and stories from prospective residents about why they chose to become residents.
Around the world in 3.5 years
The MV Narrative is 741 feet long, has a gross tonnage of 55,000 tons and a crew of 450. She will sail quietly across the oceans and around the world in about three and a half years. There is no rush to see as much as possible in 7 or 14 days, so the ship will spend three to five days in the main ports, leaving plenty of time to explore. Even in small ports, most stops include an overnight stay.
The hull will be built in China, and Storylines says it is about to announce a shipyard – most likely in Europe – where the engines and interior will be built and installed. The MV Narrative is powered primarily by low-emission liquefied natural gas, supplemented by battery-powered generators to power the on-board generators and auxiliary units.
While cruise ships have been largely shut down for nearly a year due to the global health crisis, Storyline says health and safety will be key, even if the pandemic is slowly becoming a thing of the past when the ship comes into service.
Life for Storyline residents on board is like a gated community, Poonton says. High-risk activities, such as buffets, have been replaced by 20 unique restaurants, passenger density is only 40% of that on a typical cruise ship, and there is little passenger and crew turnover as there is on a residential ship. With total control over what happens on and off the ship, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is greatly reduced or eliminated, allowing you to travel safely in a healthy and active community.
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