The Most Awaited Launch in Cruising … Villa Vie Residences “Odyssey” will now set sail from Belfast June 15th

Just last week, All Things Cruise announced the departure date for Villa Vie Residences first ship, Odyssey. Now the launch has been pushed back to June 15th.  This delay is due to a technical issue:  The rudder stocks need replacing. These are essential to helping the ship steer and without them, the ship wouldn’t be able to turn properly.  The delay, however essential, has passengers scrambling.

Enter the hero of this story: Mikael Petterson

Swedish-Born Mikael “Mike” Petterson was the Managing Director of the now defunct Life at Sea Cruises. The Florida resident has a well-regarded history in the cruise industry. He worked for both Prestige Cruise Holdings and Royal Caribbean.  His dream of live-aboard cruise ships circling the globe has come to life with Villa Vie Residences. And on Mike’s broad shoulders the delayed launch of the ship comes with new responsibilities for Villa Vie residents: Filling their time until the ship ultimately sails on June 15th. Mike’s team are arranging accommodations, meals and even local tours to keep everyone comfortable and entertained until the cruise can finally depart. Because safety is always the #1 priority, most Villa Vie residents are taking the delay in stride, all thanks for Mike Petterson’s ability to jump to as needed.

Mike Petterson in front of Villa Vie Odyssey

“Villa Vie Odyssey will be customized for her immersive, 3.5-year global circumnavigations, ensuring all the comforts and amenities of home. Named by the residents themselves, Odyssey reflects the company ethos of creating a community to share unforgettable moments of discovery on an extended journey, connecting people, places, and self.” ~Mikael Petterson, CEO


For anyone who ever dreamed of living on a Cruise Ship, your ship has come in.

We’ve all read about a tiny group of people who have left life ashore for life at sea. They’ve boarded a cruise ship and by booking back-to-back voyages for months at a time, they live aboard ship. This is not a new phenomenon. My own mother once met a woman who told her she loved living on board because every two weeks the passenger list changed and she could tell her same stories over and over again. That’s both the joy and the curse of these sailors. They’re not really going anywhere—just back and forth on a single itinerary. Not anymore. Villa Vie Residences is about to take live-aboard cruisers on the journey of a lifetime.

Why Villa Vie “Odyssey” was the perfect choice for Villa Vies’ first cruise ship.

Mike Petterson and his team may be the only Cruise line that profited from the pandemic. Carnival Corporation alone laid up 13 cruise ships. The Villa Vie management had wonderful options when it came to buying its first vessel. They chose MS Braemar and bought the 31-year-old ship from Fred. Olsen. The 24,000-tonne cruise ship was built for Crown Cruise Line and then passed through a number of upscale cruise lines before the UK-based, Norwegian-owned Fred.Olsen bought and renamed her MS Braemar in 2001. Under Fred.Olsen the ship had even set a record: In 2019 it became the longest ship to squeeze through the Corinth Canal. Charlie Kinnear, a Maritime Engineer, former US Coast Guardsman and major overseer of the ship’s drydock, attributed the excellent condition of the ship’s hull to MS Braemar’s being laid up in cold water. This virtually eliminated the build-up of marine life on that hull, something that was most apparent as we walked alongside the ship in Harland and Wolff’s drydock.

You would never know that the Braemar was 31 years old

For one thing, the original ship was enlarged during a refit in 2009 and then renovated again in 2019—just months before being laid up. Her interiors are so fresh, Villa Vie didn’t have to change the furnishings in rooms like the glorious Observation Lounge. Likewise, the cabins had hardly been lived in. “Odyssey” has a capacity of 924 passengers or residents in its 485 cabins. Its relatively small size means it can visit smaller ports and dock there too. Its flatter hull means it can even navigate inland waterways. As the “Odyssey”, it will have 8 decks, its promenade will be wraparound. Its pool deck will feature two pools, and multiple Jacuzzis. You’ll find three restaurants, eight bars, four lounges, a spa, fitness center, medical facility, library and, of special interest to its sizeable complement of “digital nomads”, a large business center with a Starlink system for worldwide WiFi. This is essential for conducting business in  even the most remote places the ship will visit. Leaving no passenger wish unturned, there will be an onboard Pet Spa & Resort, a Golf-around-the-world program, an interactive Culinary Center,  live entertainment and enrichment programs. Also included in their ‘fares’ are weekly professional housekeeping services, bi-weekly laundry service and round-the-clock medical support.

How does Villa Vie Voyages work exactly?

Beginning this month, Villa Vie “Odyssey” will circumnavigate the world every 3 and a half years. Its itinerary calls for visiting more than 420 ports in 147 countries across all seven continents. There are two ways to sign on for this voyage of a lifetime. You can purchase a cabin to own onboard or you can join Villa Vie Residences Voyagers Program where you can create your own voyage and combine up to 16 world cruise segments. Or take just one segment and “test the waters” to experience life at Villa Vie.

You can Own a Cabin at Sea

Villa Vie’s Ownership Program is already a smashing success. Thus far 270 travelers are now owners of their own cabins at sea. On our visit to Odyssey, we met a couple from Palm Beach Florida who may hold a Villa Vie record. They’ve bought 3 adjacent staterooms which they are transforming into their own private Villa at sea. They are among the 80 percent of owners who are US. Citizens. Canadians follow then British, Australian, just 2 New Zealanders and just 2 Europeans. Fascinating fact: There are no fewer than 40 single gentlemen signed up, almost all under the age of 50. And there are an equal number of single women all of retirement age. The prospect of another Love Boat may seem slightly limited, but who knows?

We talked at length to the buyers from New Zealand

Aboard “Odyssey”, we met the Kiwis, a charming couple in their early 50s. A software designer, the pandemic proved he could work from anywhere. And Odyssey’s business center will prove it again. He can even have his own private office if he so chooses. His wife proved she could pack all they needed for their 3-1/2 year “Odyssey” within the 33-kilo baggage (72 lbs.) allowance their airline allowed them to bring from New Zealand. The couple’s two children, ages 23 and 21, will join them at various stages. Their son will be on board when Odyssey reaches Japan in August ’25 for a 36-day itinerary. This is all possible because Family and Friends can visit at no cost—just $33. Daily port charge and gratuities apply. If their parents decide to jump ship when Odyssey reaches New Zealand in 2026, they can rent their cabin out when they are not aboard. Their daughter meanwhile has grander ambitions. A sound engineer, she hopes to join the ship as a crew member. She’ll be needed as planning calls for talks and lively discussions on all manner of subjects that are already in the works.

Or you can craft your own World Cruise

Called the Voyagers Program, Villa Vie allows cruisers to curate their own itinerary, purchasing segments of Odyssey’s premiere world cruise. Step aboard for anywhere from 35 to 120 days. Starting at just $89 a day per person, you can see if the Villa Vie lifestyle is for you. This might be a wise idea since there are, at last count, just 25 cabins available for sale. Villa Vie has kept aside numerous prime cabins in prime locations for its Voyagers Program. And they’ll undoubtedly need them: Mike Petterson is just about to sign on the dotted line for a second Cruise Ship in his fleet—this one slightly larger than his pride and joy Villa Vie “Odyssey”. But first, he will spend this summer aboard “Odyssey”. He’ll be joined by his wife and his three children, ages 13, 16 and 17, all eager to see what their Dad has been working on for all these months. They will have company. 2 other teenagers will be on the passenger list.

The Last Word

Villa Vie Residences is shaking up the cruise world in a big way. Offering incredible global trips, you get to explore the world while living life aboard an amenity-laden cruise ship. Mike Petterson has blended high-end comfort, thrilling itineraries and eco-friendly cruising in one incredible vessel. The current offerings –Ownership and the Voyagers Program—give unbeatable flexibility and exclusivity. Focusing on sustainability and responsible travel, Villa Vie Residences can change the way we see the world, one continent at a time.

Renderings, interior photos and ship cover photo, credit Villa Vie
Mike Petterson photo, credit Monte Mathews
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Please contact us for more information at quote@allthingscruise.com

ABOUT Villa Vie Odyssey (credit Villa Vie Residences)

A Unique Cruise Experience

Meet Villa Vie Odyssey. Villa Vie Odyssey offers an intimate, new cruise lifestyle, and the ability to reach parts of the world that larger ships cannot access – often docking in the heart of destinations.

All the comforts of Villa Vie Odyssey

  • The ship’s flatter hull enables her to navigate inland waterways and rivers too.
  • Villa Vie Odyssey features eight decks, including cascading aft decks and a wrap-around promenade.
  • Lengthened in 2009 and refurbished in 2019, she offers three restaurants, five bars and lounges, an extended pool with two Jacuzzis, a spa and fitness center, and a library.

A Lifestyle for Modern Explorers

  • A large, central business center will allow the digital nomad to flourish at sea with private offices and conference spaces.
  • Starlink will provide fast and reliable internet access for all residents and guests.
  • The ship will also feature an onboard golf simulator and classes led by a Master PGA Professional.

 

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