Rush to secure rooms with a view on world's first luxury floating apartment block

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MORE THAN 50 apartments worth $100m (pounds 62m) have been sold in what is planned as the world's first luxury floating apartment block.

Agents for the sale of homes in the World of ResidenSea revealed yesterday that they have purchasers for one in five of the apartments on offer, six months after the scheme was launched. And the company behind the pounds 300m liner now intends to go ahead with confirming the contract to have it built. Fredy Dellis, chief executive of ResidenSea Ltd, said: "By achieving $100m of sales, we have reached an important milestone for the company. This confirms the power of the product."

The ship is the brainchild of Knut Kloster Jnr, a member of the Norwegian family which is credited with starting the holiday cruise industry in the 1960s. The intention is that the ship - due for delivery in 2002 - will sail the world, attending the most glittering events on the international

social calendar from the Grand Prix in Monaco to the Rio carnival.

It will boast a spa, tennis courts, seven restaurants and a supermarket when it is launched. But there will also be full office facilities for those who have to keep earning the money to fund life on the waves.

One of the 51 purchasers confirmed so far said yesterday: "Many people may take the view that they can't quite fathom it out."

But the 55-year-old businessman and his artist wife were more than happy to spend nearly pounds 1m to secure their place on the 1,000ft, 85,000 ton ship, which will be bigger than the QEII. "I've always liked the idea of having different homes in different places, but that is expensive and rather inconvenient to keep control," he said. "I've had holiday homes before and I was thinking of another holiday home when this came up. Time will tell [whether it will work], but the people behind it seem fairly strong. Anything new is always a worry, but it seems a good idea from a business point of view."

He expects to use it for around three months a year, and will probably rent it out for the other nine. But he thinks it will prove a good buy.

In addition to the confirmed sales, 27 have been reserved, ranging in value from pounds 800,000 to pounds 4.5m. But Charles Weston-Baker, of the estate agents Savills which is handling the project in London, said few of the monied people interested in the project wished to be identified.

One exception is the businessman Peter Beckwick, also famed for his "It girl" daughter Tamara. The 53-year-old entrepreneur, heard about the scheme when he sat next to its chief executive on a flight back from Nice.

As a major shareholder in the Harbour fitness club, he is now hoping to get the franchise to run the sports and leisure facilities on board. But he has bought a pounds 1.25m apartment, which he expects to use for a few weeks a year, with the rest taken up by friends and family.