What if I told you it was possible to visit exotic destinations while enjoying the comfort of your own home? Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? However, residents of The World, a floating community of 165 luxury apartments, have been doing just that since 2002.
These folks come and go as the ship continues to move around the globe on an itinerary that includes stays of up to five days in some ports and expeditions to places as remote as Greenland and Antarctica.
The World's refined atmosphere, outstanding staff and deluxe facilities attract enthusiastic travelers who prefer the convenience of being at home on the sea to enduring the frustrations and limitations of other types of transportation and lodging.
My husband and I recently sailed on The World as "vacationing guests," meaning we were able to rent an apartment whose owners were elsewhere. Until we boarded, I really didn't know what to expect. I was soon impressed with our one-bedroom, two-bath studio with its walk-in closet, veranda and kitchenette facilities.
I enjoyed listening to the Juilliard String Quartet before dinner and was touched as we passed the floodlit Statue of Liberty - an experience made more dramatic by a water cannon salute from an NYFD fireboat. I later learned that such special treats are not unusual on The World because residents - who come from North America (50%), various European countries (35%), Asia, Australia, South America, and South Africa (15%) - enjoy a myriad of personal contacts around the globe.
The highlights of our first dinner - in Tides, one of the ship's four restaurants - was my warm ricotta custard with grilled zucchini, fennel and cherry tomatoes, a wonderful Brolio Chianti Classico and the remarkably attentive service that included acknowledgement of our pre-registered food allergies. It was at this point that I concluded that The World is to ships what Aman is to resorts. Nuff said?
The next day we explored decks 11 and 12 where the fun and games are located. These include the only Wimbledon-size tennis court at sea, a jogging track, two putting greens, a golf simulator, a paddle tennis court, a pool and Jacuzzi. In addition, another pool and water sports center are located on deck five.
While these places were all in use, the busiest area was the fitness center and spa - the only Banyan Tree Spa located on a ship. (Tip: book appointments well ahead to avoid disappointment) It seems that residents use the time at sea to work out, catch up and plan for the next port.
Some apparently also try to shed a few pounds by choosing the South Beach Diet dishes that are offered on every menu. I, however, found it hard to resist the numerous indulgent options.
At the safety lecture, we learned that 170 residents and guests were onboard, as well as 260 crew and staff. I was impressed to hear that the ship had just received a 100-point inspection from the U.S. Department of Public Health for the third year in a row. We were also reminded that due to the high regard for privacy, photography of residents and guests is not allowed.
In many ways, this floating community enjoys a camaraderie not unlike that of a land-based neighborhood. A Zumba class in the fitness center was taught by a resident volunteer and we attended a hilarious play reading by residents in the ship's theater. On the other hand, owners also have book groups, bridge clubs, private presentations and Signature Tours that are not open to rental guests.
All 106 two-and three-bedroom apartments have full kitchens where some occupants cook, while others take advantage of the ship's 'call a chef' option. Enrichment activities include lectures and exhibits designed to bring the next destination alive.
Take a look at The World's 2011 itinerary. June would be a great time to cruise the Norwegian fjords.
Should you be interested in buying, contact Rusti McFarland, National Sales Director of The World (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.aboardtheworld.com. We saw a lovely two-bedroom apartment priced at $2.5 million and a three-bedroom for $3.5 million.
The World has its own helipad
The staff on The World is very attentive.
Apartments on The World are furnished luxuriously.
The "Call A Chef" service is popular on The World.