How Floating Cities Will Work

By: Kevin Bonsor
floating city
Photo courtesy Freedom Ship International
Freedom Ship will be a floating city that will contain over 50,000 permanent residents. See more pictures of paradise.

­Millions of people take cruises each year; but when their cruise ends, they usually return to their homes on land. Wouldn't it be great if there were a cruise that never ende­d? That's the basic idea behind a new ocean vessel called Freedom Ship. Unlike a cruise ship, Freedom Ship will be a floating city with permanent residents. The ship will circle the globe every two years and offer everything available in your hometown, including a hospital, college and one of the world's largest shopping malls.

­Freedom Ship will most likely become a home for the rich and famous. Suites start at $121,000 for a 300-square-foot room and go up to $11 million for a 5,100 square foot suite on the ship's exclusive 21st floor, where prices start at $3 million!

If you've ever wanted to live on the open sea and see the world, check this out. In this edition of How Stuff Will Work, we'll take a look at the early plans for the Freedom Ship, see how it compares to today's largest cruise ships and find out what life will be like on this floating metropolis! Head over to the next page for a look at what this massive ship will look like.


The World's Biggest Ship

floating city

­­No cruise ship that has ever been built can compare to the enormity of Freedom Ship. Imagine a mile-long stretch of 25-story-tall buildings in New York City; now imagine that floating on the water. If you can picture that, then you get the­ general idea of Freedom Ship's size. At 4,320 feet (1,317 meters) long, 725 feet (221 m) wide and 340 feet (103 m) tall, the ship is taller than the length of a football field and wider than two football fields put together. And not only can a ship that size float on water, but it may be navigating the world's oceans as early as 2005.

Freedom Ship will dwarf any ocean-going vessel operating today -- it will be more than four times longer than any current cruise ship. Here's a comparison of Freedom Ship to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Explorer of the Seas, the largest cruise ship as of December 2000:

Specifications Freedom Ship
Explorer of
the Seas

Length 4,320 ft / 1,317 m
1,020 ft / 311 m
Width 725 ft / 221 m
157.5 ft / 48 m
Above Sea Level
340 ft / 104 m
200 ft / 61 m
Weight 2.7 million tons
2.4 million metric tons
142,000 tons
128,820 metric tons
Passenger Capacity 50,000 residents
20,000 visitors
Crew 15,000

Freedom Ship will be built on top of 520 airtight steel cells that will be bolted together to form a sturdy base. Each cell will be 80 feet (24 meters) tall, between 50 and 100 feet (15 and 30 m) wide and between 50 and 120 feet (15 and 37 m) long. These cells will be assembled to form larger units that are about 300 x 400 feet (91 x 122 m). These larger units will then be taken out to sea, where they will be put together to form the ship's nearly mile-long base. The rest of the ship will be constructed on top of this base. Norman Nixon, who developed the idea of a floating city, has said that it will take about three years to finish the ship once construction begins.

It will take a tremendous amount of engine power to push the gigantic ship through the water. The vessel will be equipped with 100 diesel engines that can generate 3,700 horsepower each. Developers project the cost of each engine to be about $1 million. That may give you an idea of how expensive the project is, although the total cost of Freedom Ship has not been released. The ship's high construction cost will be passed on to residents, who will pay up to $11 million to purchase living space on the floating city. In the next section, you'll find out what these residents will get for such a price.


Life at Freedom Ship

The world's largest ship will be over 4,000 feet long and 300 feet high.
The world's largest ship will be over 4,000 feet long and 300 feet high.

­Freedom Ship will have 17,000 residential units and will be home to more than 60,000 people, including residents and all of the personnel that will be required to maintain the ship. The floating city will continuously circle the world and will travel to most of Earth's coastal regions, offering residents the ability to see the entire globe without leaving their home. All of the ship's employees will be given food, housing, uniforms, medical and dental care and a continuing education program. The ship will contain all of the features that any modern city might have, including:

  • A $200 million hospital
  • A 3,800-foot (1,158-m) landing strip, which will serve private planes and some small commercial aircraft that carry no more than 40 passengers
  • Hangars for private aircraft
  • A marina for residents' yachts
  • A large shopping mall
  • A school system offering K-12 and college education
  • A golf driving range
  • Bicycle paths
  • 200 open acres for recreation

­For those who can afford to live on Freedom Ship, the most attractive feature may be that it has no local taxes, including income tax, real estate tax, sales tax, business tax and import duties. However, residents will have to abide by federal tax laws in their home country.

For entertainment, residents can visit one of the many restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and theaters. Residents will also enjoy tennis, basketball, bowling, putting greens, swimming pools, gyms, a skating rink and fishing from the ship's marina. Each home will have 100 channels of worldwide satellite TV channels and local programming from nearby countries. Internet access will be available in each unit.

Just like your own hometown, Freedom Ship will have a security force onboard that will patrol the ship at all times. In addition, the ship's entire crew will receive security training. An electronic security system will be installed to offer further protection to residents.

In addition to all of these benefits, Freedom Ship will also be environmentally friendly, according to its developers. There will be no sewage treatment plant and no sewage to spill. The ship will use incinerator toilets, which cost about $3,000 apiece, to burn all sewage. The ashes will be put in the flower beds. Waste oil will be burned in an exhaust steam plant to generate electricity, instead of being dumped in the ocean. All used glass, paper and metal will be recycled and sold. Freedom Ship International estimates that each resident will produce 80 percent less waste on the ship than at his or her current home on land.