Storylines, the new ship company offering “affordable retirement” at sea, is the work of two Australians, it can be revealed.
Storylines is four years in the making by Queenslanders Alister Punton and Shannon Lee who both have background in real estate. They took the plunge because they heard it everyday that people wanted to live at sea.
“One of the things we looked at was whether people live on cruise ships now. If you speak to anyone who cruises and I guarantee that they know someone or they have spoken to someone at the bar or restaurant who has been back to back on that ship for a year or hasn’t touched land for a couple years on various ships,” says Mr Punton, CEO and co-founder of Storylines.
The line, which just announced this month that they are taking pre-sale deposits for their first new-build ship MV Narrative launching in late 2023, expects Australia to be one of their key target markets.
Their first ship already has more than one Australian guest already booked on board, confirms Mr Punton.
The residences are offered at never seen before starting prices of $510,740 for 24 years of ownership. Annual fees starting from $2,448 per person per month will also provide guests with all-inclusive service on board: food, some shore excursions, medical facilities and more.
“I was just speaking to someone who was looking at doing exactly this, just on a traditional cruise ship and the cost she told me she worked out, I was like ‘This makes us a no brainer right’ and she was like ‘Yeah’,” says Mr Punton.
“The US and Australia who are friendly nations to cruise are the biggest players for us, and that’s also indicative of the size of the cruise market.”
“We have just only started in the Australian market and I know that per capita Australia is going to be the strongest market for us. Australians love cruising and it is going to be a fantastic market for us.”
Storylines is a different experience from the tourist cruise environment of back-to-back cruising. You get an at home experience, a community, the involvement and many other elements that make Storylines unique and ‘your ship’, says Mr Punton.
The 1,000-passenger LNG ship will circumnavigate the world every three and a half years, spending three to five days in port. It is fitted out with more than 20 restaurants on board, 45 resident lounges, three pools, gym and spa. The ship will also have ‘bucket list’ amenities like a garden farm, microbrewery and a marina where residents can access the waters to sail, jet ski and kayak right off the deck.
“Everyone loves the idea of travelling long term but when you actually do it, it is really taxing even if you travel first class,” says Mr Punton.
Storylines is his solution, allowing guests to travel full time while taking their home along with them and have the luxury of being wait on hand and foot as well as the option to do things yourself.
“We want our residents to feel like everything they do on land, they can also do on board. Even if it is brewing your perfected beer recipe in the microbrewery on board,” says Mr Punton.
“The way that we managed to keep it affordable is because our suites start from 237 sq ft. They are not small but they are not large. They do go up to 2,121 sq ft and we also have everything in between.
“We keep the entry level pricing at a sweet spot that is available to most people. That was the number one thing for us, that it had to remain affordable.
“We looked at different size ships and different variables. If you go bigger, yes you can bring the cost down even more but then you start to lose the experience. For us, around a 1000 is just right to have a good community and still deliver it at an affordable price.”
“It is enough people to get lost in it if you choose, it is enough people have cliquey groups and form hobby groups”, says Mr Punton. “People from all walks of life have already signed up to get on board. This ranges from retirees to Silicon Valley professionals who can work remotely, to families with home-schooled children and more.”