When a resident aboard The World absolutely must have something—be it foie gras from France, or a sunset camel safari in Australia, or a private dinner for 45 people at the most sought-after restaurant on the planet—they get it. Even if that restaurant is the famed elBulli, which, when it was open, typically carried a 3,000 person waiting list. For the ship’s privileged residents, the impossible is made possible.
Think of The World as a full-service high-rise on water—a megayacht-meets-vacation home with 165 uber-luxe residences. Adventure-seekers can buy or rent the apartments, which range from studios to a six-bedroom penthouse suite. At present, a few units are available for resale, but many residents rent out their apartments like vacation homes. Sale prices range from $1 million to $13 million.
On board, indulgent amenities include a golf simulator, a regulation-sized tennis court, a Cigar Club and a retractable marina for water sports. The 644-foot ship has seven dining options, including Portraits, which serves “haute cuisine.” (Lest the residents grow tired of Michelin-inspired fare, there are sandwiches inside Fredy’s Deli.)
The World has been circumnavigating its namesake since the ship’s inaugural journey in 2002. This year, it will travel to Singapore, the Maldives, Africa, the Mediterranean, Greenland, the Panama Canal , South America and Antarctica. “We have a six-member committee of residents that make eight proposals about where The World goes next,” explains General Manager Arjan Scheepers, the man responsible for overseeing the ship’s 270 crew members. “We’re already starting to plan for 2018. It’s a complex process.”
What’s perhaps more complex, though, is figuring out the best way to source fresh raspberries for a guest with a hankering—particularly when the boat is traversing the Arctic on a 26-day expedition from Greenland to Alaska. Scheepers recalls how the crisis was averted: “One of our residents was planning to meet us at the half-way point on his private jet, and he asked if we still needed fresh produce. So I gave him a list. That saved the day.” This community-minded spirit makes sense, given that The World is privately owned by its residents, 130 families from 19 countries. (North Americans represent half; the rest of the owners come from Europe, Asia, Australia or South Africa.) On a typical day, the ship averages around 150 guests, a modest number that guarantees Mrs. Robinson needn’t wait long when she requests fresh orchids.
Owners are welcome to customize the spaces; they can import made-to-order furniture, install a wine cellar or hire a preferred interior designer. So long as they abide by safety regulations, “the sky’s the limit,” says Scheepers. Or, it seems, the sea.