SEOUL, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Samsung Heavy Industries (010140.KS) said on Monday that it has won a $1.1 billion order from Utopia Residences, a U.S.-based cruise and hotel operator, to build a luxury cruise vessel.
The South Korean shipbuilder said in a statement it expects to sign the final contract during the first half of next year, with the ship due to be delivered by 2013. (Reporting by Seo Eun-kyung; Editing by Yoo Choonsik)
Besides the usual information on residences so that websurfers like us can drool over the suites, the Utopia Residences website features something unique: an entire section on how the business helps the residents engage in philanthropy. Note that the team behind Utopia includes some former ResidenSea staff such as Captain Ola Harsheim and Chief Engineer Tor Hansen, so they have experience with the only successful condo cruise ship.
Another news story clarifies that what was signed was a Letter Of Intent:
There has been strong interest in the ship and many reservations for residences, Captain Harsheim said. He explained that until the letter of intent was signed, Utopia could not actually sell residences, according to U.S. laws. However, with the signing of the letter of intent, Harsheim said he expects the reservations to be turned into sales.
Note that LOI’s are generally non-binding, so Utopia probably doesn’t actually have their funding yet, and I’m guessing that the ship will only get built if presales are strong enough. I wish them the best of luck, but unfortunately, considering ResidenSea’s financial and sales difficulties and the current global economic situation, they’re probably going to need it. I haven’t heard anything about the last big condo cruise ship venture (the Magellan) for over a year, and they were supposedly going to sail in 2010.
UPDATE: One blog claims that:
Private equity behind Samsung cruiseship order Steve Matthews – Tuesday 1 December 2009
A POWERFUL US private equity finance group is behind the order for the new residential cruiseship ordered by Beverley Hills-based Utopia Cruise Residences at Samsung Heavy Industries. Utopia chairman David Robb told Lloyd’s List that the contract is being financed entirely from private equity funds and that there will be no bank or bond debt …
If you’re interested in condominium cruise ships like 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.