Meta employee plans to pay £250,000 to live and work on luxury cruise ship full time

A Meta employee has told reporters he plans to work remotely from a new mega cruise ship for several years.

Austin Wells, whose job in augmented and virtual reality for Meta is fully remote, has bought a 12-year lease on the soon-to-launch MV Narrative cruise ship, which markets itself as a “residence at sea”.

Mr Wells, who is 28 and currently lives in San Diego, told CNBC News he spent $300,000 (£245,342) on a 12-year lease for an entry-level “Discover” studio on the ship, which will launch in 2025.

Living onboard the ship full time, the tech employee will have access to a medical centre, a gym and spa, a co-working space, three swimming pools, a bank and even a farmer’s market.

It will make stops in the likes of Rome, Venice, Croatian islands and Greece, as well as travelling to the Arctic Circle, on a yet-to-be-confirmed three-year itinerary.

“The thing that most excites me is [that] I don’t have to upend my daily routine in order to go see the world,” Mr Wells told CNBC.

“I’m going from this model where, you want to go somewhere, you pack a bag, you get on a flight, you rent a room… to now my condo, my gym, my doctors and dentists, all of my grocery stores travel the world with me.”

He says he will continue to work west coast US business hours wherever he is in the world.

“This is probably the first time ever that there is even the ability to have a standard job and even consider working and living from a floating apartment complex.”

Mr Wells told presenters he was most excited about “revisiting all of Europe,” adding, “so much of the interesting parts, in my opinion, of Europe are towards the centre.”

Mr Wells’ basic-category residence will be a 237-square-foot cabin with a fold-away bed, pantry area, desk and shower room.

He hopes to meet like-minded travellers onboard. “The goal is to actually have a community of residents on this ship. And so you will establish new friends, you will largely travel the world with them, which is potentially a way to create some of the deepest friendships you’ve ever had,” he said.

Storylines Cruises, the company behind the residential ship, is mostly selling apartments on 24-to-60-year leases, but Mr Wells says he got a shorter term due to being an early customer.

There are 11 categories of residence, with prices ranging from around $875,000 to $8m depending on size, quality and length of lease.

Passengers can choose to pay an “all-inclusive” living rate per month, meaning all meals, clinic visits, fitness classes and laundry would be covered, or simply pay as they go.

In November, Storylines also launched the option to own a 25 per cent share in a unit, spending three months of the year onboard.

The 18-deck vessel will also feature 20 restaurants and bars, a school, library and a cinema. It is currently under construction in Split, Croatia, from where it will set sail in 2025.

Storylines CEO Alister Punton, who will also move into the ship with his family, said: “We have identified a really big market here. And there’s a lot of people who want to get involved and be a part of this.

“I always say to people, you can come and drink pina coladas by the pool all day if you like and not lift a finger… But that gets old pretty quickly,” he added.

“So, you want to keep doing [the job] you do, right? This is a way for people to be able to do that. That’s a fundamental difference between us and a cruise.”

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