Stepping on board The World takes you out of this world. This floating luxury apartment block — circumnavigating the globe every two years, and with nearly 300 crew catering to its residents’ every whim — is a world most will never experience. 

The residents who live here own it, forming a fiercely protective community where chatter about private jets, yachts and multiple homes is bandied about while passing the salt. To be eligible to buy one of the 165 apartments on the ship, a net worth of US$10 million (or a net income of US$1 million) is required in order to honour financial commitments onboard and protect the residents from unstable economic climates.  

Built by Norwegian shipping magnate Knut Utstein Kloster and launched in 2002,
this 196-metre long, 12-deck residential ship, boasting six restaurants, multiple bars, and
the only full-size tennis court at sea, was purchased by its own residents the following year. Today 130 families from 19 countries own it, with onboard occupancy usually ranging from 150 to 200 residents and guests. The average age is relatively young, between 50 and 60, with many flitting to and from the ship to meet global business commitments. 

The World en route to the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica
En route to the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica

Each apartment is designed to reflect the varying tastes of its owners. While the doorbells and letter boxes offer a sense of normality, there is nothing mediocre inside where wallpaper is inlaid with crushed Murano glass and gold leaf, or a hallway showcasing priceless art leads to plush leather lounges, exquisite dining settings, and stunning Italian tiles. While the very personal décor transforms these apartments into homes, the wraparound balconies featuring state-of-the art barbecues and jacuzzis can’t help but remind you that home is surrounded by the world’s oceans. 

Apartments vary in size from studio to two or three bedrooms. While room service is available, or indeed a chef, to cater to any culinary impulse, each one features a fully equipped kitchen, no doubt handy for whipping up a feast with ingredients chosen from the abundance of fresh seafood, meat or spices purchased in various ports by Fredy’s Deli downstairs. 

There is no limit to the number of apartments a resident can own, with some acquiring two, or even three, to house visiting relatives or friends, and apartments that do emerge for sale are often snapped up by existing residents wanting to either downsize or upsize. For new residents, snagging an apartment can take up to three years after their initial inquiry at the Fort Lauderdale head office. Serious buyers are rigorously vetted before being accepted to road-test the experience. That’s when Residential Director Lisa Spiller steps in. 

“We coordinate the potential resident’s schedule with an available apartment so they can spend a week onboard to see if the lifestyle is what they want,” Lisa says. “But it’s not just a trial for them; it is also a chance for the residents to get to know and approve them. Once they get two letters of approval from the residents, they will be accepted.

“The average occupancy is six years, and residents leave for a variety of reasons,” Lisa adds. “They may need more medical supervision; they may want to live closer to their families; sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to get a dog. And, of course, once you’ve circumnavigated the world three times, you may feel there is not much more to see.”