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Cruise ship to offer 200 cabins as permanent homes

David Robb, chairman of Utopia Residences, with a

David Robb, chairman of Utopia Residences, with a model of the Utopia. Some cruise industry experts doubt the plan to sell homes on the ship can stay afloat during the economic downturn. (Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT) Credit: MCT/Glenn Koenig

A Beverly Hills company has a plan to build a $1.1-billion cruise ship, set to cast off in 2013. But instead of offering four- or five-day excursions, the business plans to sell half the cabins as floating homes.

The Utopia will cruise the seas, offering 204 cabins that can be rented like hotel rooms. An additional 200 cabins will be sold as permanent residences, with prices ranging from about $3.7 million to $26 million. But a key draw will be location.

During the Cannes Film Festival, the ship is slated to drop anchor near the south of France in the Mediterranean. On New Year's Eve, cruise ship operators hope to take passengers to Australia to enjoy the fireworks display.

Owners and renters would have access to ship amenities.

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