After a few days of living the high (seas) life aboard a luxury cruise ship, spending time exploring exciting port towns and sampling the all-inclusive restaurants and amenities onboard, you might consider what it would be like to stay on the ship forever.
Sure, you could book a room on a round-the-world sailing, but even then, you’re not really living on a cruise ship.
One residential cruising company, however, is working toward making a permanent seafaring life a viable option. In late 2024, the Croatia-based cruise company Storylines is slated to launch a new residential ship, dubbed MV Narrative, where people can purchase an apartment onboard and sail indefinitely.
The floating community will feature 547 residences, including fully furnished studios with Murphy beds (at 237 square feet), one- to four-bedroom apartments, and two-story penthouses (that range between 1,378 and 1,970 square feet each). The outright purchase price for one of the accommodations starts just shy of $1 million and will go up to $8 million. Like any other home, the residences can be rented out or sold in whatever manner the owner chooses. A select few abodes are also listed for 24-year leases (starting at $600,000, or roughly $25,000 per year). After the initial purchase or lease price, each unit will also be charged a yearly fee, ranging from $65,000 to $200,000, to cover meals, amenities, and maintenance. But once onboard, residents would only need to open their wallets for food, experiences, and trinkets during their time ashore—most everything onboard will be covered by the fees (with the exception of things like premium alcohol, certain medical and veterinary services, childcare, and items from the onboard store).
While it’s not an entirely new idea—The World residences at sea has been sailing since 2002, and Somnio, a residential yacht liner, is expected to set sail in spring 2024—it’s currently the least expsensive option for those who wish to live at sea. (The World and Somnio’s smallest accommodations have an estimated starting price of $3 million and $11 million, respectively.)
Storylines was founded in 2016 and is run by Alister Punton and Shannon Lee, two men who previously worked in land-based real estate and construction projects. Per the website, MV Narrative is intended to be more a lifestyle choice and less of an extended vacation. As such, Storylines notes that it will interview potential residents to determine whether they’re a fit for the community.
The plans for the MV Narrative include 20 restaurants across 18 decks, a 10,000-book library, three pools, a garden, a bowling alley, a fitness area with a running track, and a microbrewery. The ship will also house some services not commonly found on other cruise ships due to the nature of its offering, such as a post office, hospital, school (for grades up through 12), bank, and office spaces, to make it feel more like an actual city, just at sea. There will also be outdoor pet exercise areas in case residents want to bring their four-legged friends along for the ride.
The vessel is slated to begin its 1,000-night maiden voyage in late 2024. During that initial nearly three-year-long sailing, the ship will visit six continents and will stop at various ports for one to five days at a time.
One 88-day sample itinerary shows the cruise slowly working its way around most of Italy’s coast over the course of a month, including three days in Rome, four days in Palermo (Sicily’s capital city), and single days in San Leone, Sciacca, and Marsala, among other ports. From there, the ship would spend a few days each in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania, before doing a 24-day deep dive into Greece, and then heading to Turkey. Along the way, there would be “Residents Choice” days, where those aboard could vote on where they’d like to go by using a special phone app for residents.
The slow travel schedule, the company states on its website, is part of its sustainable travel initiative, as being in the harbor for days at a time and going shorter distances between stops burns fewer fossil fuels. Other elements include waste-to-energy tech, growing vegetables in the hydroponic garden, and committing to only using biodegradable or reusable items instead of single-use plastics.