January 13th, 2007 - Open Knowledge
Jan. 13th, 2007
Used cruise ships resurface as condos
-- Tom Stieghorst
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted December 4 2006
The condo craze went to sea awhile ago with The World, a cruise ship managed by Miami-based ResidenSea. But another Florida firm has added a twist to the concept.
Condo Cruise Lines International is marketing units on used ships, making the process both faster and less expensive than building a vessel from scratch.
"Many lines retire their midsize ships early, most with decades of useful life left," said Mark Boyd, president of the Destin-based company. Boyd's idea is to acquire the ships and combine the staterooms into 1- to 3-bedroom luxury suites.
The first vessel to undergo condo conversion is the Orient Queen, a 560-foot floating gambling vessel bought from Chinese owners. It is getting a $22 million to $25 million refurbishment at a shipyard in Singapore and will emerge in April as The Murano, according to Robin Stuart, CEO of Voyage Partners, which is marketing units.
Condos start at $382,000 and run to $1.3 million, but a four-week fractional share of a unit goes for as little as $90,000 Stuart said.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes said it does not regulate condo sales on ships, even for companies incorporated in Florida, so it is caveat emptor for buyers.
Stuart said deposits on units are held by an escrow firm, but confirmed there is no third party regulator for consumers to consult. "
"Our company searches the globe for medium-size cruise ships to change over to condo ships. These ships, with decades of useful life left, are converted into luxury cruise ships.
Each time we target a new vessel for purchase, we take reservations for the allotted condo suites. The suite prices vary from ship to ship and depend on the size unit the purchaser desires. Once the ship is bought the condo owners can do whatever they want with their suites ...they can live on board, turn the suite into a floating office, or rent it to the vacationing public through our affiliation with major luxury cruise travel agencies worldwide. According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), "Luxury cruise prices vary by the season, itinerary and destination, and range from $400-$1000 per person, per day".
That's $5,600 to $14,000 per week! Suggested rental prices on our ship fall between $3,000 and $6,000 per week year-round.
Condo cruise ship suite owners might, for example, take a four month world cruise and rent the suite out another seven months and make a sizable profit."
"In Hawaii, for example, shipping prices are so expensive because of the Jones Act, that Hawaii cattle ranchers find it less expensive to send their cattle to the mainland via Boeing 747s. As Congressman Nick Smith wrote in May, "It doesn't have to be this way. There are 164 cattle carriers floating around the world's oceans that would love to be of service to the Hawaiian cattlemen but are barred from serving them because of the Jones Act."
That same month, the president of the 110-member Hawaiian Cattlemen's Council Inc. noted that "as much as 60 percent in costs could be saved utilizing competitive livestock carriers transporting whole herds at one time. The Jones Act costs consumers and small businesses in Hawaii approximately a billion dollars per year.""
A couple of things that surprised me here:
* Who knew that Hawaii had cattle ranchers? I wonder if they exist due to some other subsidy.
* That traditional shipping is so expensive that it is more cost-effective to fly their cattle via Boeing 747's!!! How is that at all economical?!? Is there something special about Hawaiian beef?
What didn't surprise me:
* That the cost of shipping was so high due to protectionist legislation (the Jones Act) that prevented non-U.S. carriers from shipping between two U.S. ports.
11:35 pm - Waves of fear
Waves of fear
Jan 11th 2007
In a controversial new book a British economist asks why so many people are against the free movement of labour
Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them
By Philippe Legrain
Little, Brown; 374 pages; £12.99
FOR years now, free trade and free movement of capital have been respectable economic tenets, espoused—if sometimes reluctantly—by most politicians. But no sane politician in the rich world would advocate free movement of labour. As a result, most people are trapped in their native lands, never likely to have a legal opportunity to see the world outside.
Philippe Legrain, a liberal economist who once worked for The Economist, has already written a book stoutly defending globalisation. Now he takes on an even more emotive subject. There is not a shadow of doubt about his own views. He wants open borders. He believes that they will, on balance, enrich both sending and receiving countries; he thinks diversity generally makes life more interesting; and he detests bureaucratic restrictions on human freedoms. “Immigrants are not an invading army,” he points out. “They come in search of a better life. They are no different to someone who moves from Manchester to London, or Oklahoma to California, because that is where the jobs are. Except that a border lies in the way.”
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