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Top of the World

An ultra-luxury home that floats.

IT’S THE COMBINATION of a five-star hotel, a fine university, and a summer camp for adults,” says Rick Newton, a retired neurologist who lives in Ross. He’s talking about The World, a 644-foot-long, 12-deck cruise ship where he owns what could be called a second home. And for many, it could be a third or fourth home — as your net worth must exceed $10 million before you are even allowed to look at properties available on board.

The World is indeed a special place — that floats. Walk on board and you’ll see its lobby and bar areas are akin to, if not even more grandiose than, those of a boutique Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons. Regarding Newton’s “fine university” descriptor, it’s a fact that academicians, along with environmentalists and adventurers, come aboard to give lectures and conduct seminars when the ship is visiting remote locations such as Antarctica’s Ross Sea, the subregion of Melanesia off the islands of New Guinea, or the Great Northwest Passage.

And as for The World being “a summer camp for adults,” Newton is emphatic: “I don't mean this in a frivolous way; I mean there are all kinds of activities on board. When we’re at sea, people are playing tennis, running laps, using the golf simulator, working out in the gym or swimming in the pool. When we're in port, people line up to go scuba diving, kayaking, sailing or hiking; they even climb mountains.”

What about prices aboard The World? A studio the size of a cruise ship cabin sells for $1.5 million, while a three-bedroom three-bath suite, offering in-port views of city skylines or at sea vistas of endless ocean and sky, might cost upward of $10 million. Then come yearly fees — fuel costs, ship maintenance, crew and supplies — that are based on your home’s square footage and generally start in the six-figure range. Keep in mind, there are 165 residences on The World and the manifest usually lists 200 passengers. Match that against a well-trained, high-quality crew that numbers around 230. And while homeowners have a strictly enforced ethic of never scolding or critiquing crew members, they’re also forbidden to tip an obliging pool attendant or ever-smiling waiter.

Newton has owned a two-bedroom two-bath residence aboard The World for well over five years, spending at least half of each year seeing, well, the world, while traveling the open sea. Ask where he’s been, and Africa, the Scandinavian countries, South America, Japan and Alaska come quickly to his mind. Queried about the most memorable destination, he spends a moment in thought. “It's a tie,” he then exclaims, “between Antarctica, where the remoteness, followed by the sight of thousands of penguins, was unforgettable,” and (a surprise here) “... Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2014.” He smiles at the memory. “We spent four days there after getting a guide in Seoul, South Korea, traveling overland. It was grim, stark and really cold.”

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