"Welcome to The World," were the first words said to me as I embarked on the luxury yacht that was docked in Manhattan for three days in September. A rather poetic statement, I thought.
The world, in and of itself, has certainly provided a comfortable home for me over the years as I set out on professional and personal journeys. But this "world" was a little different -- this world came complete with crystal chandeliers, ornate wood carvings, and a glass of champagne when you entered. This world was, in its simplest form, the crème de la crème of world-class luxury. Anywhere you want to go, The World will take you there. The welcome was just a precursor to anything that follows once you're on board.
The World, a luxury ocean residence that sails, well, the world, this isn't your ordinary cruise ship. The concept is to give its owners, guests and residents access to anything, everywhere, at any time. Whether you choose to board The World in Bermuda or somewhere along the Indian Ocean, your chariot awaits with all the amenities you could want including: a Banyan Tree spa, fitness center, four restaurants, a pool, gourmet food market, theater, cigar bar, casino and nightly entertainment. At the invitation of Exclusive Resorts, a travel program with over 400 luxury residences in 50 spots all over the world, I boarded "The World" to get a glimpse of how the rich and famous sail, or in this case, how they dine for one night in New York.
The ship was docked securely at Manhattan Pier number 93. The next day it was scheduled to leave for Bermuda, but not before welcoming its residences, guests and friends to dinner. On this night on the Hudson, the entertainment took a remarkable turn as walks of life from Hollywood to Hoboken converged on the ship to dine at East, The World's Asian-infused eatery.
We entered the restaurant and were immediately shown to a table for two at the window. The New York skyline was lit up in the background, providing the ultimate backdrop for a world-class setting. The restaurants on The World are a la carte -- you pay for what you eat, drink and enjoy -- and this night was no different. From sushi to chicken skewers to bottles of Chilean Cabernet, the options at East were endless, and so were the views.
On one side of the room, a Hollywood celeb and his wife were dining with another couple who happened to be sailing on The World (according to staff members); on the other side of the room, a table of 12 were seated and within seconds were debating the pros and cons of capital punishment and the current state of the Republican party. The table of four next to ours continued their conversation in German -- the men in an intense discussion and the women sipping endless glasses of white wine and picking at the entrees as they arrived on the table one after another.
Instead of engaging in our conversation, we sat and listened the world talk around us. The Hollywood table at the far end of the room remained secluded and focused solely on each other. The table of 12 got louder as the night went on; their discussions became even more heated and the topics more controversial. The German couples continued their foreign discussions, but moved from conversational intensity to romantic flirtations as the wine bottles continued to uncork. Like something out of a Steven Soderbergh movie, the night was filled with all things mysterious, sexy, and satisfying. I wondered at what point the people we were watching would look over and wonder what in the world we were doing in their home, but the diners at East this particular night seemed happy just being with each other.
As the staff continued to shuffle made-to-order entrees and freshly rolled sushi to the tables, patrons continued on seemingly content in their own worlds. This "World" is built on the premise that the no destination is beyond reach. While money certainly plays an object, the oysters in this world are simply endless.