Man lives on cruise ship with 85 cabins after putting almost all his life savings in online purchase
| Last updated
Christopher Willson's story started in 2008 when he was surfing the web and spotted something very strange for sale on Craigslist, a retired cruise ship.
For some reason, the ship's owner was looking to offload the 293 foot long vessel and reckoned that the best way to sell it was to stick it on Craigslist.
Willson wasn't really interested in buying a cruise ship, but as he kept seeing the listing popping up he thought he ought to satisfy his curiosity and posed as an interested buyer.
He went to Northern California, where the ship was moored, and soon enough changed his tune on not wanting to buy a cruise ship.
Willson had been working on developing virtual reality tours, but once he saw how badly the ship had been neglected and how impressive it really was underneath all of the wear and tear the idea that he could restore it caught on.
He explained to CNN Travel that he did a bit of digging into the history of the cruise ship and found that it had been built in 1955 and was the first major cruise ship constructed in Germany since the Second World War.
"I kind of posed as a potential buyer, even though I really didn’t have any interest in purchasing a ship, it was a little out of my comfort level, to say the least," Willson said of his initial view before he realised he liked big boats and could not lie.
"She has one of the most spectacular layouts of just about any ship I’ve seen. The staircases are magnificent.
"It's almost the same as if you found an old '60s Corvette in the garage. You can see the quality is there, but it’s so neglected, you almost feel bad for it."
He also learned that the cruise ship had originally been named the Wappen von Hamburg, and decided that he would be the one to renovate it.
Chris was able to 'work out a really good deal with the owner of the vessel', though since he was buying a cruise ship that could mean anything.
Now he owned it he set about restoring it, first clearing out hundreds of bags worth of rubbish.
While he initially spent hours travelling between his home and where the cruise ship was moored, after a few months Willson and his partner Jin Li decided to move onto the ship itself so they could be closer to the renovation.
Over time he learned that the ship had an even more storied history than he first realised, as it was the ship that inspired the TV series The Love Boat and it was used to film the Spectre headquarters in the iconic James Bond film From Russia With Love.
Since he bought the ship Willson, Li and some helpful volunteers have been able to renovate a lounge, several of the hallways and some of the cabins.
He's also renamed the vessel, calling her 'The Aurora'.