ResidenSea offers agents 'World' of opportunity

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NEW YORK -- The World of ResidenSea, described as a resort community at sea, will begin a continuous program of around-the-world itineraries with its Feb. 25 sailing from Tilbury, near London, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

It will launch with incentives aimed at agents for early support of the new product. The vessel, a first of its kind, has 110 apartments for sale and 88 guest suites, available for cruises of five to 17 days.

The 198 units, ranging from 1,100 to 3,200 square feet for apartments and 250 to 650 square feet for suites, translate into 750 beds. Occupancy is projected to average 300 to 350. The firm expects to take delivery on Jan. 31.

The per diem on the ship's guest suites ranges from $700 to $1,000 per person, double, according to Nikki Upshaw, ResidenSea's vice president, sales. When apartment owners are not on board, agents will sometimes be able to sell into those much larger units, she said.

The basic commission is 10%, but agents have a potential, based on volume, of 15%, she added. ResidenSea also created preferred relationships with Giants Select and Virtuoso to target upscale clientele, she said.

In addition, all agencies are offered a free passage on any of seven selected sailings in 2002 for which they book three guests at full fare; 15% commission applies to those bookings.

Agencies earn a free suite on those same sailings if they book six full-fare passengers, and up to 20% commission applies with five or more full fares. The agencies could use these earned passages or sell them to clients, Upshaw said.

To further stimulate business, agents earn a $500 bonus for bookings on deposit by Feb. 20, and clients receive a $100 per day, per suite, amenity credit if they book and deposit on the same day, before Feb. 20.

Customers also get 15% off when they pay in full at time of booking and 10% off if they are on deposit three months before sailing. They receive complimentary or reduced-price business class air upgrades on certain trips, as well.

The World's pricing structure includes Tailored Time Fares, which permit agency clients to purchase blocks of days to be used at their discretion over a 24-month period. Upshaw said an agency could buy a block and sell into it, as well.

These rates are on a per-suite basis; for example, the lead price on a 30-day block is $41,395; the top of the range on a 300-day block is $479,995. For guests, pricing covers economy air, all meals and most spirits, gratuities and port charges; owners pay for their on-board meals, or they can cook in their apartments.

According to Fredy Dellis, president and chief executive of ResidenSea, 80 of the apartments, priced from $2 million to $6.8 million, have been sold.

If a travel agent refers a buyer and a sale is concluded, Upshaw said, the agent will earn 2% of the purchase price. The average apartment price is $3 million, Dellis noted.

Because so many of the passengers will be living on the ship for extended periods, the vessel will "wander the world" with different itineraries each year, Upshaw said. In addition, port visits will coincide with key events, such as the Grand Prix of Monaco, the British Open in Scotland and, down the line, the Olympics in Athens in 2004.

Abercrombie & Kent will plan and operate ground programs throughout the world. It also will create a brochure, due in February, of pre- and post-cruise itineraries.

Apartment owners, exempted from the Jones Act, can board and disembark in the U.S. as they wish, Dellis said. Sales representatives in the U.S. are in Los Angeles, (310) 887-7090; Miami, (305) 264-9090, and New York, (212) 332-1660.

Brian Major contributed to this report.

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