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Renting Giant Cruise Ships Is the New Wave in Private Yachting

A weeklong trip for 200 of your closest friends aboard a floating city will set you back only $500,000.
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Photographer: Filippo Vinardi

Floating amid mega-yachts in Monte Carlo’s crowded harbor during the May 2015 Monaco Grand Prix was a startling sight: Windstar’s 212-passenger Star Breeze cruise liner. Lodged in one of the prime berths, the passenger ship was placed as a private yacht would be—because for the week, it was one. 

“The ship is within inches of not being able to come into the harbor, but it fits exactly, down by the hairpin turn,” explained Windstar’s Amy Conover via phone from her office in Seattle. The 440-foot long Star Breeze wasn’t crammed with day-trippers midway through a jaunt around the Mediterranean, for which it was designed. The ship was serving  as a private playground, rented by a wealthy client for use as a convenient perch for 200 friends while the ship’s crew catered to their needs. Guests could sleep and party aboard it during the week of Monaco's famed car races, enjoying the comforts of the waitstaff and kitchen crew amid watertight security. The mogul renter even provided the most luxurious of day trips: Each of his lucky friends was offered a vintage automobile from the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari, including some retired Grand Prix race cars. Guests drove the race course on Saturday evening during the moments before it was shuttered to make way for Sunday’s grand finale.