Unlike fractional ownership of aircraft and houseboats, fractional owners of a cruise ship can all use the ship simultaneously. There is plenty of room for you and the other owners to live on the ship any time you want, or all the time. You can use it as a full-time residence, and so can the other co-owners. The first obvious benefit of shared ownership is acquisition cost. There are many cruise ships on the market in all price ranges, sizes, ages, and conditions. There are many smaller and older cruise ships available for less than one million dollars. At the lower end, some smaller cruise ships in fair condition can be acquired for about $250,000.
At the highest end, the biggest new mega cruise ships now cost about $500 million to build. Do the math. If one hundred buyers pool resources in exchange for a percentage of ship ownership, the acquisition cost will be divided by that same number. One percent ownership of a $250,000 cruise ship would cost a mere $2500 for ship acquisition. At the other end of the scale, one percent ownership of a brand new mega cruise ship would cost five million dollars. There are some other figures that must be tabulated into the total cost of ownership. Acquisition cost is first and foremost. The next figure is the cost to put the ship in service.
On an older ship this cost may be higher than the acquisition cost. On the other hand, the cost to put a ship into service can be much lower if you were to get a good deal on a ship that already meets the international standards for ship safety, especially SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea). Maintaining compliance with Chapter II SOLAS 74 amendments is cost prohibitive for some older ships and they are typically scrapped instead of being refurbished at great expense. There is a very important SOLAS implementation date coming up on January 10, 2010.
On that date all commercial international ships will be required to be in compliance with the new fire safety codes. The most important new codes deal with the use of combustible materials in the ship. It will be expensive to replace all combustible materials in ships with non-combustible or flame resistant SOLAS compliant materials that meet the new safety standards. This will result in many ships being sold for scrap metal. The looming SOLAS 2010 implementation date offers both perils and opportunities. The biggest peril is the possibility that the expense to bring a ship into full compliance with international standards will be greater than the value of the ship. However, there is a silver lining in this cloud. This pending SOLAS implementation date has already started to show up as a primary factor in the asking and selling prices of ships on the market today.
SOLAS 2010 also offers a tremendous opportunity for those who may prefer to have a very large houseboat instead of a commercial ship. Ships that are not in compliance with SOLAS 2010 are now selling for a song (inexpensively). A cruise ship can easily be converted into a megayacht with the stroke of a pen. Privately owned yachts, not in commercial service, and not carrying passengers or cargo for hire are exempt from many of the SOLAS requirements. Operating costs are also lower for a private yacht. It cost less to register, flag, and insure a private yacht. Megayachts can be flagged and classified for unlimited service. That means that a megayacht can go practically anywhere you want it to go. There is one major drawback to registering a cruise ship as a private yacht. You cannot use the yacht commercially.
This cuts off a potential revenue source. There are many decent cruise ships for sale at prices of less than one million dollars that would make good private megayachts. For example, take the ‘VERGINA SKY’ is a ship that I have personally inspected and so I can talk first hand about it. The asking price was $750,000. Here are the specifics of the ship in a nutshell: Current Name: Vergina Sky Ship Details: Built: 1971 in Japan – totally rebuilt 1992 in Greece Dimensions: LOA 97.8m x LBP 82m x beam 14.6m x draft 4.49m Dwt: 500 on 4,49 GT/NT: 4,668 / 1,717 Description: Pielstick 2 x 8400bhp, twin screw, bow thruster, 3 x 500kw generators, 16 knots, 2 saloons, restaurant, 3 bars, casino, duty free shop, disco, swimming pool, 120 cabins for 318 guests. Lying Greece My Comments after inspecting the ship This is a well built little ‘Pocket Cruiser.’
At just over 320′ in length overall, it is a small cruise ship. Many experienced cruise passengers prefer smaller more intimate cruise ships for a variety of reasons. This ship can go places where the big cruise ships cannot reach, such as shallow draft ports and even many rivers. It has an omni-directional bow thruster and can turn on a dime (relatively speaking of course). I have carefully examined this ship from the engine log to the ultrasound hull report. This is a sound and safe little cruise ship. It is also a very fuel efficient and economical ship. My first time on this ship was in the middle of the summer in Greece when it was very hot outside. The ship is fully air conditioned and it was cool and comfortable inside the ship. I checked the engine room to see how many generators were running. I am happy to report that all the electric and air-conditioning requirements can be met by running just one of the three Daihatsu generators.
These generators are very economical to operate in terms of fuel consumption and maintenance. I was able to negotiate with the owner, John Kosmas and get some concessions. I got the price down to $500,000. And at that price, he agreed to bring the ship into compliance with SOLAS 2005 and also to include new paint topside. The ship was fairly well furnished even including bed linen, but the ship had been laid up for years. Its most recent service was in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Cruise ships that trade exclusively in the Mediterranean and Black Seas tend to have smaller cabins and fewer amenities than the typical cruise ships that frequent the Caribbean. The bottom line is that this ship was an economy model, not a luxury model. When I was inspecting the engine room, I asked for the engine log. When I opened it I noticed all the entries were in Greek. I was able to discern some dates and other data that told me when the ship was last in service, but I could not read the Greek entries so I handed the engine log back to the ship owner, and told him “”It’s all Greek to me.”” Being Greek, Mr. Kosmas failed to find the humor in that. Let’s look at the numbers on this ship. 100% of the acquisition cost would have been $500,000. 1% thus = $5000. One hundred buyers could own one percent each.
There are 120 cabins so each co-owner could have a private cabin with 20 cabins left over. However, these cabins are a bit on the small side. Every cabin does have a bath and shower, but the size is just too small to be comfortable for most people, especially if the owners intend to live onboard full time. On a ship this size I would recommend that there be no more than 60 joint owners so each can have two cabins and will have the option of converting those two cabins into a two room suite. To keep the numbers simple lets say that this ship has 50 buyers who each buy 2% of the ship. Buy in cost per owner would then be $10,000. If there were only ten buyers, then the acquisition cost per buyer would be $50,000. $50,000 will not buy much of a house on land, but on this ship it would buy 10% of a ship like the Vergina Sky and twelve cabins that could be converted into a fairly large home. At the economy end of the scale, a co owner could buy 1% of an economical cruise ship for about $5000. However it is not necessary for all co owners to have equal shares in the ship. Ownership can easily be divided up into 1% increments. If one buyer wanted 5%, then his cost of acquisition would be $25,000. He would be entitled to 5% of the ship’s cabins, and would have five votes on operations and management of the ship, such as itinerary planning. Before becoming a joint owner, it would be imperative to find other people who have similar goals. I would suggest composing a preliminary DCCR (DECLARATION OF COVENANTS, CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS). You can do this before you even shop for a ship. Write your version of how you envision the shared ownership of a cruise ship as it should be. Then see if you can find some people who agree with your goals and your DCCR, subject to some revisions and concessions to accommodate other joint owners. Step One: Determine if you and your family have the desire and financial capability to become joint cruise ship (or megayacht) owners. Step Two: Find others who agree with your concept for shared ownership of a ship. Step Three: Shop for a ship. This is the fun part. Step Four: Buy a ship. Step Five: Put the ship into service. Even if you are not rich, you can afford to jointly own a cruise ship. But then comes the next logical question: Why would you or anyone want to live on a cruise ship? Who would this be suitable for? If you are retired or otherwise have a stable income from a dependable source you probably can afford to be a cruise ship co-owner and live full-time onboard a cruise ship. If you work in a field where you can work from home online, then you too can probably afford to become a co-owner of a cruise ship. Most modern ships have satellite Internet service available 24-7. Operating a cruise ship is expensive.