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Unreal Estate: Ship Condos Sail Choppy Seas

MIRAMAR, Fla. (TheStreet -- The high seas may generate the next big wave of high-end property buying.

The concept of selling residential units aboard a cruise ship first made a splash with the 2002 launch of The World, the only vessel of its kind. Others, however, have floated plans to capitalize on this unique real estate sector.

The World, managed by Miramar, Fla.-based ResidenSea, is a far cry from the standard vacation ships run by Carnival (CCL) or Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL). The 12-deck ship is owned co-op style, by its residents. Prices start at $1.4 million for one of the 165 units set aside for buyers.

Since 2002, The World has travelled the globe as a residential community at sea.

The World is billed as a "city at sea" with four gourmet restaurants, a theater, a 7,000-square-foot spa, two swimming pools, a tennis court and a nightclub.

Many of The World's residents have as many as three or four homes around the globe, says Nikki Upshaw, ResidenSea's senior vice president of sales and marketing. Living on the ship allows them to maintain the creature comforts of luxury living while satisfying their love of travel.

"We make it fairly seamless to have this consistent level of experience, no matter where we are, whether it is Indonesia or Croatia or Italy or Antarctica," Upshaw says.

For those who can't quite pull away from their land-based businesses, all residents have high-speed Internet service and access to an on-ship business center. Some owners of two-bedroom units have made one room into a "home" office.

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