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Are you able to survive a cruise ship? Yes, and here’s how much it costs


Austin Wells likes to travel the world.

But he doesn’t like long flights, jet lag or an unsettled routine.

And that is why, Wells, who’s 28 and lives in San Diego, leased a residence on board a luxury boat that he’ll move into — and work remotely from — for not less than three years because it sails world wide. It comes complete with medical services, a farmer’s market, private kitchens and an exercise center, together with 24-hour room service, a co-working space and spa.

His room is on a mega cruise ship named the MV Narrative, made up of greater than 500 private rooms and apartments, which can be home to around 1,000 residents who will survive board roughly permanently.

“The thing that the majority excites me is I haven’t got to upend my day by day routine, so as to go see the world,” Wells told CNBC by video call.

“I’m going from this model where you need to go somewhere, you pack a bag, you get on a flight, you rent a room, to now my condo, my gym, my doctors and dentists, all of my grocery stores travel the world with me,” he added.

Wells — whose job at Meta‘s augmented and virtual reality division, Reality Labs, is fully distant — plans to proceed to work U.S. West Coast hours because the ship visits European cities.

“My working hours can be shifted towards evenings, nights and really early mornings. But that does open up the power for me to … possibly see a city midday to afternoon after which start my workday around six or 7 p.m.,” he said.

“This might be the primary time ever that there may be even the power to have a typical job and even consider working and living from a floating apartment complex,” Wells added.

What’s the MV Narrative?

The MV Narrative is an upscale residential ship being built by Storylines, the brainchild of co-founder and CEO Alister Punton, a former construction and property executive who had never been on a cruise before founding the corporate, he told CNBC.

Noticing that giant ships tended to be scrapped, Punton and co-founder Shannon Lee saw a possibility to redevelop them as an alternative.

After some false starts — they bought and redesigned two ships that turned out to be unsuitable, either for the approach to life residents expected or because they didn’t meet latest environmental laws — they commissioned a latest vessel. The MV Narrative is now under construction in Split, Croatia, from where it should set sail in 2025.

A pc-generated image of a bedroom and living area on board the MV Narrative. Long-lease residences are priced from around $875,000 to $8 million.


There can be 11 forms of residence on board, with the most important — “Global” at 1,970 square feet — on two levels, with as much as 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big balcony, a dining room that seats six and a walk-in closet.

Some apartments are positioned on a deck with a Champagne and whisky bar, cigar lounge and small pool at one end, while others have statement lounges and event spaces.

Other facilities, spread across 18 decks, will include 20 restaurants and bars, a ten,000-square-foot gym and spa open 24 hours a day, three swimming pools, a college, library, bank and office spaces. The ship will even have a theater for performances and films, though unlike traditional cruise ships, extravagant entertainment won’t be much of a spotlight, Punton told CNBC.

Where the ship will go

The MV Narrative will dock at ports for around three to 5 days, which Punton said is longer than average for liners, allowing residents to explore. “Most individuals … can be out within the local cities and doing day trips and overnight trips, hiring a automotive and going out for 3 or 4 days and meeting the ship at its next destination,” he told CNBC by video call.

A sample itinerary might include three days docked in Rome, then three days in Naples, followed by stops at smaller places comparable to the seaside towns of Sapri and Marsala, and eventually reaching Venice before sailing on to Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Greece after which Turkey.

The ship will even go to the Arctic Circle. In total, it should spend three years or so traveling the world (the complete itinerary is yet to be announced).

The MV Narrative, the primary cruise ship from operator Storylines, is scheduled to set sail from Croatia in 2025.


Wells plans to spend time exploring on land too. “Revisiting all of Europe, I believe, is what I’m particularly keen on … a lot of the interesting parts, in my view, of Europe are towards the middle,” he told CNBC.

What it costs

Wells spent around $300,000 on a 12-year lease for an entry-level “Discover” studio, which at 237 square feet features a foldaway bed, pantry area, desk and separate shower room. (Most leases are either for twenty-four years or for the lifetime of the vessel — around 60 years — but as an early customer, Wells was offered a shorter option.)

Punton wanted the MV Narrative to be more cost-effective than other residential boats. The World, for instance, is a lavish liner where a penthouse apartment costs around 20 million euros ($20.5 million), and there are only around 150-200 people on board at any time.

While the MV Narrative’s units are still pricey — at around $1 million to $8 million for a life-of-vessel lease —it launched fractional ownership options in November, with a 25% share starting at around $600,000, allowing residents to remain on board for 3 months a yr.

A pc-generated image of the toilet in a “Global” penthouse residence on board the MV Narrative cruise ship. Such units can be on two levels and are on sale for around $8 million.


“All-inclusive living fees” come on top of the acquisition price, starting at around $2,100 an individual monthly, covering things like food and drinks from the ship’s restaurants and bars, laundry, fitness classes and medical checkups.

“We’re still competitively priced to the market,” Punton said.

Residents will even have the opportunity to rent out their units in the event that they will not be on board — no matter whether or not they are full or part owners. A studio apartment just like the one Wells bought could generate around $4,500 a month, in line with a calculator on the Storylines website.

Who’s buying

Wells expects to be one in every of the youngest adult residents on board — around 30 when he moves in. Residents will range from mid-life entrepreneurs to families with children, he said.

Children can attend the ship’s “world education” program, which blends online learning with small group teaching, field trips and workshops with experts from the countries the ship docks at, in line with Storylines’ website.

A rendering of a residents’ lounge on board the MV Narrative cruise ship, which is predicted to hold around 1,000 passengers.


Retirees and people near retirement are also buying into the ship, Punton told CNBC. One future resident is an ER nurse with about 30 years of working experience who’s keen to work within the MV Narrative’s medical team part time, Punton said. He also hopes to recruit owners from other forms of professions comparable to acupuncturists and physiotherapists.

“I all the time say to people, you may come and drink pina coladas by the pool all day in case you like and never lift a finger … But that gets old pretty quickly. So, you need to keep doing [the job] you do, right, so this can be a way for people to have the opportunity to do this,” said Punton. “That is a fundamental difference [between] us and a cruise.”

The Storylines head office will even be based on the MV Narrative, with company executives living on board. Punton will move onto the ship along with his wife and two children, who’re currently two and five.

A pc rendering of the living quarters of an “Envision” residence on board the MV Narrative cruise ship. Any such residence has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a big balcony. It costs from $3.3 million for an extended lease.


“For me, I’m, you understand, just about seven years into this project already. And by the point we hit the water can be a decade. It’s an extended portion of my life. And after all, I would like to live this lifestyle as much as anybody else,” he told CNBC.

Wells expects to make friends for all times on board. “The goal is to really have a community of residents on this ship. And so that you will establish latest friends, you’ll largely travel the world with them, which is potentially a option to create a few of the deepest friendships you have ever had,” he told CNBC.

Could Punton foresee someone living on the ship for the remainder of their life? “People can actually [own] in perpetuity … so it could actually be gifted into their estates and passed down through the generations … and their family can proceed to survive the subsequent ship as well.”

There may be a second vessel within the offing once the residences on board the MV Narrative are just about all sold (around half have been bought thus far), Punton said.

“Now we have identified a very big market here. And there is a number of individuals who need to become involved and be an element of this,” he said.

— CNBC’s Tom Huddleston Jr. contributed to this report.

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