Over the past few years, retirees have begun jettisoning traditional retirement plans and choosing to spend their sunset years at sea. More and more people are swapping out their second homes and opting out of RV travel in favor of retiring on cruise ships. Oceanic Resort Condos of America (ORCA) is hoping to appeal to folks floating somewhere in the middle. The group is repurposing a 290-foot passenger expedition vessel into a private mega-yacht, Larga Vida, with 50 condo-style suites. Reservations for sales will begin this week.
The idea behind the company's condo-cruise concept is to combine the conveniences and adventure of a cruise with the comfort and community that comes with a condominium. While targeting recent or soon-to-be retirees, they are also hoping to entice successful millennials and other affluent buyers to get on board. Condo owners will also become fractional owners of the ship itself—owners are not only buying homes, but they are also buying a slice of the vessel.
However, ORCA president and ship captain, Tim Levensaler acknowledged that the hybrid experience is not for everyone. "You must love the sea," he said.
Larga Vida's condo-cruise concept isn't new. In 2002, MS The World launched with 165 luxury residences aboard. Unlike The World, which sails around the globe continuously, stopping at different ports along the way, the Larga Vida will spend most of its time homeported in Miami waters, taking four-day trips to various Caribbean islands once a month and a two-week cruise to South American once a year. "When things get back to reasonable normalcy, what a way to attend future events like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, New Year's Eve in Key West, even the Beating Retreat Ceremony in Bermuda," Levansaler said.
However, regardless of whether the ship is cruising or stationed in port, owners will still be able to enjoy all the amenities onboard. In addition to the 50 condo-style suites, Larga Vida will be stocked with a lap pool and gym, entertainment venues, scheduled activities, dining options and bars, scheduled activities, and limousine service—which ORCA states will all be covered under a "nominal" monthly HOA fee. This fee also includes fun extras like weekly guest chef menus, five dedicated staterooms where the owners' guests can stay overnight while visiting the ship or joining a cruise—and the use of the ship's $3 million, two-passenger sightseeing mini-submarine during island cruises.
Prices start at $298,000 and go up to $468,000. For anyone concerned about cramped-cabin fever, the liveaboard suites measure between 268 to 360 square feet—more than twice the size of your average cruise ship stateroom. Suites sport a minimalist design to maximize the sense of space and feature earth-tones, leather headboards, and marble-topped desks.
Not sure about making a cruise ship condo purchase during the pandemic? ORCA says the yacht will function with COVID-19 protocols in place. A few of the planned health safety measures include discreet temperature screenings for everyone who boards the yacht, installing air-conditioning and ventilation systems sporting HEPA-grade filters, and capabilities for saliva onboard saliva testing. Additionally, all staff will be certified in CDC and WHO disinfecting procedures.