644-foot residential yacht may make 2015 stop in NL

The World, which bills itself as the largest privately owned residential yacht, has made the first tentative step toward a possible visit to New London in 2015.

George Cassidy, executive director of the Stonington-based Connecticut Cruise Ship Task Force, said Wednesday that the 644-foot ship, which carries an average of 150 passengers and a crew of 260, has reserved space at the Adm. Harold E. Shear State Pier for Oct. 2-4 two years from now, at the beginning of autumn leaf-peeping season.

A three-day stay for The World is typical, he said, because people aboard the ship own their cabins as condominium units and are looking for different destinations to stay while they take in the sights.

"It's one of the only kinds like it in the world," Cassidy said.

Despite its huge size, The World does not advertise itself as a cruise ship.

"It might look like a cruise ship from the exterior, but that's where the similarity ends," according to online promotional material.

On The World, passengers who are co-owners of the ship help determine the destinations in consultation with the captains and a director of itinerary and destination planning.

Cassidy said he received a call from a representative of The World who indicated that passengers were intrigued by New London's architecture and history while also enjoying the possibility of trips to the USS Nautilus Museum, Florence Griswold Museum, Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport, among other destinations.

"They like to go off the beaten path for their clients," Cassidy said.

Among the ship's appointments are four restaurants, two pools, a spa, library, sports center, tennis court, jogging track, putting green, art gallery, chapel and cinema. Some residents use the ship as their year-round home, but the average stay is about four months every year.

Last year, during The World's 10th anniversary trek, the ship made stops in 31 countries. Owners of the shipboard residences come from all over the world and represent 19 countries.

The ship's home is listed as the Bahamas, but it is operated by a Florida company called ROW Management Ltd. The World was designed by two Norwegians, Petter Yran and Bjorn Storbraaten, and it features 12 decks and 165 residences.

New London, which stopped seeing major cruise ships in recent years after a flurry of activity between 2007 and 2010, has been starting to get back in the game in recent weeks. Earlier this month, it was announced that the 88-passenger Grande Mariner, run by Blount Small Ship Adventures, would be arriving in the city twice this October, and that Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess, with a capacity of nearly 2,000 passengers and a crew of more than 900, would be making a port of call here in July of next year.

Cassidy said a stay in New London is not guaranteed, but he is encouraged that the city now has at least one ship on the hook as at least a possibility for each of the next three years.

"It's another cruise ship coming in a different year," he said.

l.howard@theday.com

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