Cruise ship living

Talk about liquid assets. A popular trend over the past several years has been to convert cruise ship cabins into luxury floating condos.

The idea is that for a bit more money than you’d pay for a luxurious condominium, you can travel the world without having to spend extra for airfare or hotel accommodations. Cruise ship living appeals to people who are retired or fortunate enough to have work that doesn’t tie them to a particular location.

While often involving a hefty price tag (for the ultra-glamorous ships, think millions of dollars), some make the cruising lifestyle more affordable by opting for fractional ownership, similar to a timeshare. Others utilize the condo for part of the year and rent it out when not in use.

Residential communities at sea

Onboard homes can range from simple studios to expansive penthouse suites. Amenities often include many of the usual cruise ship perks: gourmet restaurants, live entertainment, movie theatres, tennis courts, swimming pools, casinos and spa facilities.

For the luxury-minded, two new residential cruise ships are expected to launch in 2010 – the Magellan and the Four Season’s Oceans Residences – according to a report in USA Today.

Private residences in the Magellian will start at $2.3 million and the price includes travel to 150 countries and 300 ports annually.

The starting price for a wholly owned unit in the Four Seasons comes in at $3.8 million. In its first year, the ship will sail to Antarctica, the Amazon, the 2012 Olympics in London, the British Open golf tournament and the Grand Prix in Monaco, among other destinations. (For more information, click here and here).

A more affordable option for cruise ship living is now available on Canada’s Pacific coast. While not offering the far flung world destinations of other luxury liners, Waterfront Lifestyles of Vancouver is now selling condos on a small cruise ship that range from $189,000 for a single room to a larger suite for $399,000 (plus a nominal homeowners association maintenance fee), according to the company’s news release.

Amenities for the ship’s 40 to 50 residents include three meals a day and housekeeping. Among the commonly owned facilities are a dining room, lounge and sun decks.

During the week the ship will be docked in Vancouver within easy reach of entertainment and shopping areas. Two or three weekends each month it will take its owners to major events and sightseeing trips locally, including whale-watching, cruising the British Columbia mountainous coastline, shopping junkets to Victoria and other port cities, and summertime fishing and scuba excursions.

Each year owners will also take a two-week cruise to more distant destinations such as San Francisco and Alaska. (Click here for more information.)