Company to Convert Cruise Ship for Senior Living at Sea

The coming wave of seniors will be looking for a wide array of housing options, some experts, like PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute, have said after studying the market. One company is trying to serve retirees looking for something beyond a typical active adult or independent living community by enabling them to live at sea, aboard a fully equipped cruise liner.

Storylines, an ocean-liner that offers condos that can be purchased, plans to set sail in 2020.

“We noticed there were expectations for retirees that didn’t match what was available out in the marketplace,” Alister Punton, co-founder and chairman of Storylines, told Senior Housing News. “With our property hats on, [we thought] there must be a better way. There are more than land-based living options.”

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With this mentality in mind, Punton, along with business partner and co-founder Shannon Lee, went searching for a ship. The result is a cruising vessel that is undergoing a $40 million renovation to be ready to set sail in early 2020.

Cabin-condos

Storylines will offer 302 staterooms that can be purchased as cabin condos that can be lived in part- or full- time. The price to buy a cabin ranges from a tier 1 starting price of $255,000 to tier 5 starting price of $990,000. The cabins themselves range from 183 square feet to 624 square feet, and also come with a monthly service fee ranging from $4,770 per person to $9,598 per person.

While this is pricey, consider that even traditional senior living is not cheap. In Texas, the average entry fee for continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) of all contract types is $130,579 on the low end and $528,194 on the high end, according to Ziegler and My LifeSite. And in Washington, D.C., the average rent for independent living in 2015 was $3,462.

Furthermore, some seniors are already choosing to live primarily on cruise ships, as CNBC reported last year.

However, the ship is not geared just toward retirees. In fact, many of those currently looking into buying are even in their 30s. Storylines has not yet started accepting deposits for condo-cabins, but it is fielding interest. The ship targets “active people who don’t want to retire,” according to Punton, who sees Storylines as perfect for those “looking for another way to live a better life.”

The boat is scheduled to leave Miami in 2020 and set off on a five-year circumnavigation around the globe.The exact timelines and ports will be left up to the residents of the ship, according to Punton, who predicts some democracy in choosing the destinations. It is also set up so residents can take time off the ship and return at any point.

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Health care and amenities

The ship will have a team of nurses and a doctor on board at all times, but Storylines is also taking a proactive approach to health care, with plans to eventually offer its own health insurance options.

“Traditionally, health isn’t something you think about until you have a problem,” Punton said.

Storylines is exploring adding several health care technology programs on board, including working with startups to bring a 3-D body scanner on board to take their residents biometric data and create an individual case file for each person so they can remain in good health while at sea.

In addition, medications will be stocked and Storylines will have connections to health care facilities near every sea port. The boat also has a helicopter onboard for transportation. As Storylines starts considering potential residents, who can make the voyage will be assessed on an individual basis, according to Punton.

At this point, Storylines is still working with health care partners to underwrite an insurance option with full coverage for residents.

In addition, the ship will be equipped with yoga and fitness instructors, a beauty salon and a tagalong yacht that residents can charter.

The vision is that residents will likely stick around on board between nine and 11 months out of the year, with availability for friends and family to visit or rent out the cabins when not in use.

Written by Amy Baxter

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