Panama-based company Ocean Builders is readying to transform the former Pacific Dawn, a 1991-built vessel, into what it calls a crypto cruise ship, a floating community to host businesses including stores and restaurants that will accept bitcoin (BTC) from prospective customers. The vessel was renamed Satoshi in a seeming bid to honor the cryptocurrency’s creator.
Chad Elwartowski, Chief Operation Officer (COO) at Ocean Builders, told Cruise Industry News that the firm will be “upgrading and doing any repairs needed” on the ship once it closes the sale, but refused to share any details on the project, claiming it is contractually a secret.
The ship was previously operated by P&O Cruises Australia, a British-American owned cruise line. The crypto cruise ship’s cabins are available for sale, ranging between USD 25,000 to USD 50,000. A total of 777 cabins should be made available to customers, lured by cruises that will set sail from the Mediterranean to Panama.
Asked about the reasons for which the company picked Panama for its project, Elwartowski pointed to the country’s crypto-friendly climate.
“Cryptocurrency is completely legal in Panama, they don’t have a central bank,” according to Elwartowski. “They have [their domestic currency the] balboa, but everybody uses dollars here”.
An analysis by the UK-Estonian financial consultancy Private Finance claims that Panama “is rapidly updating its financial legislation and is internationally considered as a promising state for FinTech business” owing to its preferential “taxation and support of blockchain technology at the official level”.
The COO said the company considered the Panamanian authorities as friendly, and a team of maritime lawyers and Colombian Cruise Services would help Ocean Builders make sure the project fits within the country’s legal framework.
“We are definitely going to be fully compliant with the laws,” Elwartowski said. “Panama is more welcoming to our projects and boosting the economy than Thailand was.”
The company representative was referring to a 2019 incident that involved the Thai authorities accusing Elwartowski and his then-girlfriend and current wife of violating the country’s laws while they lived in a sea home off the Thai coast. The home was eventually seized by Thailand’s Navy.
Meanwhile, according to KPMG, despite multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 and uncertainty over when sailing will reconvene, multiple report say that there has been increase in the booking for 2021 in comparison to 2019.
“This shows people are still looking forward to future travel on cruises, however, it may be harder to convince first-time cruisers. The poll conducted by CruiseCritic.com shows 75 percent of 4600 cruise passengers are interested in cruising after COVID-19 ends,” the consultancy firm said in a report this past July.
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