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PHOTOS: The World cruise ship visits Alaska, on way to Northwest Passage

The World, a floating gated community, on a stop in Anchorage on August 7, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The World, a floating gated community, on a stop in Anchorage on August 7, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The World, a floating gated community, on a stop in Anchorage on August 7, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Aerial of downtown Anchorage, with Alaska's tallest building, the ConocoPhillips building. July 19, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Downtown Anchorage with tug boats in Knik Arm. July 26, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

The World cruise ship, billed the only private residential community at sea, passed through Alaska's largest city this past week. The ship towered over Anchorage's port, with curious onlookers hoping for a glimpse of the rich and famous who call The World home.

The 644-foot-long ship has other Alaska port calls this month, from Kodiak to Dutch Harbor to Nome, according to The World's itinerary. It will then make its way through the Bering Strait and head for the Northwest Passage, that stretch across the Arctic above Alaska and Canada.

The World is one of several cruise ships expected to sail the Northwest Passage this summer, that legendary sea route English explorer Capt. James Cook dreamed of crossing in the late 1700s. Arctic warming has started to make that a reality.

As for The World, here's how its owners describe the ship:

Since it first set sail in 2002, The World has visited over 800 ports in approximately 140 countries. With a continuous worldwide itinerary that enables the vessel to span the globe every two to three years, the ship is a complete floating city, equipped with high-end facilities and luxurious amenities that create an intimate, refined atmosphere for resident owners. This strikingly beautiful ship promises gracious and personal service in a warm, inviting ambiance much like that of a private yacht, well-staffed private home or exclusive country club.