I’m not sure exactly how or why it happened, but sometime recently I received information in my email inbox about a cruise line called The World. The difference between The World and say, Royal Caribbean or Princess Cruise Lines is that The World’s ships provide permanent luxury residences. Emphasis on luxury. There have been rumors circulating for years that there are people who choose to retire aboard cruise ships. According to some, it is cheaper to permanently cruise around the world than to pay for living in a retirement community. I can’t confirm that this is in fact true. But the idea intrigues me nonetheless. After all, you have on-board doctors, entertainment, restaurants, lecturers, church services, 24-hour food, chocolate buffets and a 70s night once a week. What more could you want? Not that I plan on doing it, mind you. According to my brother, cruising – just like riding roller coasters – is tempting fate. He says sinking – or running into an ice berg (even if you are sailing the Caribbean) – is, well, just a matter of time. But Bill and I do like to travel on cruise ships. Our first cruise was sometime around 2006 or so, a Caribbean cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. Having not done it before, neither of us was certain whether we would love it or hate it. I think it’s hard to feel neutral about cruising. We love it. So in 2008, we boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Galveston, TX, and spent two weeks traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to Barcelona, Spain, where we began our three-month adventure. We did the same thing a couple of years later when we traveled from Miami to Rome, spending two weeks crossing the Atlantic. On that trip, we actually stayed in the same room on the same ship, and traveled around the Mediterranean, where we visited such places as Egypt and Greece. We were on that same ship for a total of 28 days. I never once got tired of it. Of course, there is a big difference between 28 days and 365 days year after year. Out of curiosity, and after watching the seductive video included in the email, I looked online to find the cost of buying a residence on The World. Bill and I could buy one of the 200 residential units aboard The World for somewhere in the vicinity of $3 million up front and an annual maintenance fee of up to $270,000. I guess if I had to ask the price, I couldn’t afford it. Of course, if I can afford a condo costing several million plus a three-figured maintenance fee, I can afford to fly home and visit my grandkids. Being a half world away from them most of the time would be one thing (in addition to the imminent ice bergs) that would prevent me from living aboard a cruise ship. But I am seriously curious to know if it is actually affordable and sensible to spend one’s retirement years aboard a regular cruise ship. Our rooms on the cruise ships were tiny and plain. It worked just fine for our time at sea. But it might drive me crazy to live in such a small space permanently. Maybe it wouldn’t. After all, you have the whole ship on which to wander around. And it would always be reasonably warm because the ships generally cruise the Caribbean in the winter and the Mediterranean in the summer. You might have some chilly days on the way to and fro, but most days would be quite pleasant. Wouldn’t they? Of course, you have the whole issue of medical care. There are on-ship doctors who could treat colds and the flu, but what about serious illnesses? We have an acquaintance who fell on a ship and broke his arm. He ended up in a hospital in Naples, and doesn’t have especially fond memories of his experience. But if the fine folks of Napoli can’t provide good health care, they certainly can compensate by making delicious pizza. Perhaps in order to even consider this option, you have to be fairly active and healthy. After all, no matter where you live, your body is however old your body is, and your bones are the same age. Perhaps being 75 years old and living on a ship that occasionally lists violently is not a great idea. Just for the sake of comparison, here is a photo of a suite on The World…. On the other hand, here is a photo of Bill standing in our shower aboard the Royal Caribbean….. And I’m quite certain the room stewards wouldn’t walk into a suite aboard The World and see this (which our steward frequently did)….. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t allow the Clampetts to sail aboard The World. All-in-all, I think I will stick to the occasional Caribbean cruise and not choose to retire upon a giant floating city. It would be nice to wake up just outside Florence, however.