Man Bought An Entire Cruise Ship On Craigslist And Now Calls It Home

By maks in News On 27th April 2024

As many of us find ourselves grappling with the challenge of climbing onto the housing ladder, one inventive individual has taken a unique approach and purchased an entire cruise ship.

With the cost of living soaring in recent years, people are increasingly searching for unconventional ways to reduce expenses.

For some, the idea of living on a cruise ship has emerged as a surprisingly affordable alternative to traditional housing on land.

In fact, one man who spends 300 days a year living on a cruise ship even claims it's more cost-effective than renting an apartment.


However, Chris Willson took this concept a step further by deciding to own a cruise ship himself.

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His search led him to Craigslist, where he stumbled upon a listing for a retired vessel located at the California Delta.

Intrigued, he decided to check it out in person.

Upon visiting, Willson found the 2,496-ton ship in a state of neglect and pondered whether he was ready to tackle the massive renovation project.

But as he explored further, his decision was sealed.

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He was particularly impressed by the ship's five levels below the surface, which he described as having 'the most spectacular layouts of just about any ship I've seen.'

Driven by curiosity about the ship's origins, Willson delved into its history and discovered it was built in 1955 at the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.

Craigslist... yep, the place where you find these. CBS

Named the Wappen von Hamburg, it was the first significant passenger liner constructed in Germany after World War II.

After careful consideration, Willson decided to go ahead with the purchase. In 2008, he negotiated a favorable deal with the vessel's owner and bought the 293-foot cruise ship.

The ship boasted three decks, 85 cabins with en-suite bathrooms, a dining room and salon, an outdoor swimming pool, all for $1.2 million.

Following the purchase, Willson relocated the ship to the California river city of Rio Vista, where he began leasing space and embarked on the ambitious restoration of what was once the Wappen von Hamburg, now renamed Aurora.

In a conversation with CNN Travel, Willson shared:

The cruise ship has 85 cabins. Christopher Willson

"I figured it was going to be a long project. The scale of it was massive. It's almost the same as redoing 15 houses all by yourself."

To fully commit to the renovation, Willson and his partner Jin Li moved onto the Aurora and have made it their home.

As of 2022, Willson estimated that he had already invested about $1 million in upgrading the ship.

He humorously noted to Insider, "Once you have finished one end of the ship, you have to start all over again by the time you get to the other end," highlighting the ongoing nature of such a large-scale renovation. 

"Even a brand new ship requires maintenance right off the bat," he added, acknowledging the continuous effort needed to maintain such a massive vessel.