MIAMI -- Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts plans to manage and operate a new cruise ship named the Four Seasons, whose cabins will be sold as condo apartments as is done on the World of ResidenSea.

Finland-based shipbuilder Kvaerner Masa-Yards said it signed a conditional contract to build a 42,500-ton, 700-passenger "residential" vessel for FS Ocean Club Ltd., which is managed by Miami-based Ocean Development Group, a firm headed by Premier Cruises founder Kristian Stensby.

The contract is conditional because it calls for FS Ocean Club to sell 30% of the ship's residences by July 2005.

Stensby said his group began talking with Four Seasons two years ago about the project.

"We knew from the outset we would like to cooperate with a strong hospitality brand," Stensby said. "Four Seasons was on the top of our list."

The ship will have 100 residences. Ten will be sold as timeshares, and the rest will be sold as condos; prices would range from $4 million to $12 million.

A Four Seasons spokeswoman offered few other details, saying the project is "really in the early stages," but she added that the cruise ship concept "is a natural extension of the luxury residential product that we already have."

Among the Toronto-based hotelier's 61 properties are two shared ownership villas, the Four Seasons Residence Club in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Four Seasons Residence Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Stensby said the condos would be sold through real estate brokers. "We knew from the beginning that we wanted to stay out of the retail market," he said. "We don't view this as another cruise project. We view it as a real estate project."

ResidenSea was the first company to market a ship as a floating condominium when it launched the World in 2002.

A spokeswoman for Ocean Development said the Four Seasons will be an "improved" version of the ResidenSea concept. For one, she said, all the cabins will be sold as residences instead of having a mix of residents and cruise vacationers.

Four Seasons will take a 10% equity stake in the venture, the Ocean Development spokeswoman said; Ocean Development will take a 90% stake.

Michael Milligan contributed to this report.

To contact reporters Rebecca Tobin or Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected][email protected].

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