ResidenSea has signed a letter of intent to build the 85,000-ton The World of ResidenSea at Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft for $500 million, including an option for two more ships. A building contract is expected to be signed early next year and delivery is slated for the second half of the year 2000.

The World will feature 250 apartments, 182 guest suites, seven restaurants, plus all the facilities and services commonly associated with top-of-the-line cruise ships.

After the concept was launched early this year, ResidenSea said it needed to pre-sell approximately $100 worth of apartments before placing the building contract. At press time, a source close to the company said that $80 million in sales were contracted and that there were firm commitments for another $70 million. He also said that on the basis of the sales efforts of the last several months, "selling the apartments (which cost in the range of $1 million to $3 million) is not a problem." ResidenSea expects all the apartments to be sold at the time of delivery. Total sales will exceed $550 million, according to the company.

ResidenSea was funded with $20 million of equity and expects to make a private placement for $10 million before year's end and $100 million next year. As the name implies, The World will sail worldwide for its well-to-do apartment dwellers and guests.