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July 1, 2009

New Retirement Cruise Ship project

I’m glad to see other people trying this area, we are actively investigating it as well, and the more players the better when it comes to getting acceptance for a new industry. It will be tough to make it work, though, a number of post-ResidenSea ventures have tried a condo cruise ship, and none have pulled it off. It is worth keeping in mind that investors, founders, and banks lost approx $100M to $200M on ResidenSea, out of a $270M or so investment! Yes, the ship is in operation, but it was “funded” by investors losing money, so it doesn’t prove that the model can work profitably.

It is still worth investigating, I think, as we may be able to save substantial costs by retrofitting a used ship, moving more slowly and rarely, and following a small fixed route rather than wandering around the world. If it did work, it would be an awesome incremental step towards seasteading. But it is not, unfortunately, an easy path, so you should not believe in any specific proposal (including ours) until it is funded and in construction. That said, this is the smallest (ie, most incremental) and closest to completion cruise condo I have seen yet, and it makes me significantly more optimistic about our chances:

> Oceanic Retirement Communities of America (ORCA) has created a new dynamic in adult living with its Lifestyle Cruising Program. Retire on your own private residential cruise ship! This totally innovative continuing-care retirement model provides Independent Living and Assisted Living accommodations to seniors who want more out of their retirement years than what a conventional adult community can provide.

It has 100 condominiums, and is based in Florida. Here’s a [Fox – Orlando](http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/030309_Retirement_on_a_cruise_ship) news story, including a video:

Some key details, in case you don’t want to [read their faqs](http://www.condoships.com/?pageid=faqs).

* 100 condos
* Cost is $160K to $400K, for 125 – 330 ft^2. So this is quite small – far smaller than ResidenSea, and significantly smaller than we had been planning. Perhaps retirees don’t have as much stuff? And they don’t have kids living with them either. They have extensive common space as well.
* The all-important operational costs are $25K – $41K/year for two people. Note that they decrease costs a lot by staying in their home port, Port Canaveral in Florida, much of the time – greatly reducing fuel costs, canal costs, docking fees (assuming their home port is chosen for low docking fees). However, these costs also include meals, housekeeping, and all the care of an Assisted Living facility.
* Ship plans to take 10 3-day cruises to the Bahamas each year, and one long cruise to the Caribbean or Central America. So it spends 10mo of the year in its home port. The residents will control the future itinerary.
* No property taxes, as you are not buying real estate, you are buying a share in a Florida LLC that gives you equity, voice in decision-making, and exclusive right to use a specific unit on the ship. So the business model is resident-owned with the developer cashing out at the beginning, as far as we can tell, which is one of our top proposed ownership models. (It is nice to see confirmation of our thinking.)
* No financing, unless your bank will do it.

If you’re interested in condominium cruise ships like ORCA, Utopia, Magellan, and ResidenSea, check out all our posts tagged cruise condo. For more general information on how to live on the ocean, read A Brief Introduction to The Seasteading Institute.