Pacific Dawn could become “floating community”

P&O Cruises Australia’s former cruise ship the Pacific Dawn (IMO 8521232) could find a new life as a floating community that would be anchored permanently in the Gulf of Panama.

A company called Ocean Builders, with whom a key investor is American bitcoin entrepreneur Chad Elwartowski, also claims to be developing “floating, off-grid seapod homes,” and has reportedly entered into a deal to acquire the once pioneering cruise ship.

The ship was built in 1991 and operated most of its career with Princess Cruises and P&O Australia. It is being sold by P&O Australia’s parent company Carnival Corporation which is reducing its fleet size due to the impact of the pandemic on the cruising.

Elwartowski, who is COO of Ocean Builders, said that the company was scheduled to take delivery of the cruise ship on November 4th in the Mediterranean. He said that Ocean Builders was working with Columbia Cruise Services to take care of the management of the operations of the ship, which will be renamed Satoshi.

Elwartowski has been known as an evangelist for a movement called Seasteading, the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea outside the territory claimed by government. In 2019, he and his Thai girlfriend got into some difficulties with the Thai government, which seized his floating home, which had been 12 miles off the coast of Thailand. The government accused the couple of violating the country’s sovereignty.

Elwartowski said that “we look forward to creating a hub for technology and innovation here in Panama. Our goal is to figure out how to live sustainably on the sea and chart new waters in this new frontier.”

The ambition is to be a technology incubator hub for entrepreneurs, expats, digital nomads, and cryptocurrency companies that want to test their technology in a controlled environment, said Elwartowski. In addition, to residents, Ocean Builders says vacation rentals will be made available on the ship and they will offer areas for research and office space.

Ocean Builders plans to begin auctioning of cabins on “The Crypto Cruise Ship” on November 5th, the day after they take ownership of the former Pacific Dawn. Ocean Builders will begin the staterooms on Deck 10, which it said it planned to sell in “a similar fashion to a condo.” Buyers will acquire full, indefinite ownership of their cabin, but will pay a monthly fee to cover operating expenses.

The first sale is to consist of 200 cabins in auctions scheduled to run from November 5th to 28th. They are tentatively being priced at between $25,000 and $50,000. A total of 777 cabins will be available for a total occupancy of 2,020 people.

The plan is to offer cabins for sale one deck at a time moving down the ship’s decks as they sell out on one deck. Elwartowski said that “our idea for families with children is to buy a balcony or ocean view room for the parents and purchase a cheaper interior room across the hall for the children. We would like to think of your cabin as your bedroom while your living room is the rest of the ship.” People buying adjacent cabins would be permitted to add doors or join two cabins, “as long as there is no bulkhead between them.”

Ocean Builders is hoping to attract business owners to operate those spaces while living aboard. Ocean Builders said that it was taking advantage of the current downturn in the cruise industry to expand its operations in Panama. The company said that they recently began construction on their residential community on the Caribbean side of Panama and they planned to use a portion of the ship’s former crew cabins to house employees as the company expands operations to the Pacific coast of Panama.

The vessel is being prepared to set sail from the Mediterranean and will anchor in the Gulf of Panama. It will be a 30-minute ferry ride from the ship to reach Panama City. Ocean Builders will cede ship operations to a spinoff company called Viva Vivas. According to the current plan, the Satoshi would be available for residency early in 2021.

1991-built, UK-flagged, 70,285 gt Pacific Dawn is owned by Carnival PLC of Southampton, UK. It is managed by Carnival Australia of Sydney, Australia.

It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Syndicate) and UK Club on behalf of Carnival plc – trading as P&O Cruises Australia.