CRUISE holidays have taken off as never before but how about making life on the ocean wave a permanent arrangement? For the residents of the good ship The World, calling in at Southampton on Friday, this dream has become a reality...

NO other home is more exclusive than this, and for the handful of people who live here there is nothing so mundane as a street number and road name - no, their address is simply The World.

On Friday, this floating development of seagoing apartments incorporated in the ultimate luxury cruise ship is due to arrive in Southampton for a two-night stay.

The nearest most people will get to the 43,524ton vessel will be a view of the ship from Mayflower Park, for when The World comes alongside 101 berth in the Western Docks the bywords for this port visit are definitely discretion and confidentiality.

Privacy for the people who have chosen to make this cruise ship their home is fiercely guarded and little of the worries and concerns from outside the vessel's sumptuous surroundings are allowed to invade The World's pristine decks.

Exact details of what the passengers will be doing while in Southampton have not been released but it is known that one of The World's residents is getting married on board while the ship is in port. A £70-a-head trip to see Winchester Cathedral is also on offer and we know that many of the residents will be playing golf on top courses in Hampshire.

The visit to Southampton is part of the British leg of an odyssey that began in 2002 and will not stop. The World is like no other cruise ship as this unique vessel is where people live while they constantly travel the seas taking their home with them on their never-ending journey.

So far this year, The World and her pampered residents have criss-crossed the oceans, visited countries in both hemispheres and now they are preparing to cruise to Scandinavia and the Mediterranean where they will call at ports such as Monte Carlo and the millionaires' playgrounds along the South of France.

Last winter they spent the cold months under the sun of South America; spring was idled away in the Caribbean and the Canaries, and now it is time to laze away the summer in Europe and the Mediterranean, while Egypt and the Seychelles are on the list of autumn destinations.

Then next year it's time to start all over again.

The bill for this type of lifestyle is not cheap but despite a price tag of millions for a home on board The World, demand for apartments is high with more than 90 per cent snapped by the ultra-rich owners.

A spokesman for the ship said: "Guests of The World are prosperous individuals and experienced travellers, a combination of luxury cruisers and frequenters of five-star resorts.

"Residents and prospective buyers are successful entrepreneurs and an affluent mix of individuals from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

"The estimate is 40 per cent North American, 40 per cent European while the remaining 20 per cent are from other international markets.''

People who have bought apartments are thought to have paid between £1.5 and £7m for their homes, which include apartments featuring from two to six bedrooms, each with their own bathroom, a state-of-the-art kitchen, living and dining room areas and a private veranda, many featuring a private whirlpool.

All furnishings and appliances, as well as advanced audio, video and communications equipment is included in the price of the apartment, which owners can choose to have designed by interior experts from either London, New York, Milan or Oslo.

There are also a few one and two- bedroom studio apartments.

If actually living full-time on board does not appeal, there is an opportunity to rent accommodation on board The World for more than £1,100 a night for the smallest apartment and nearly £500 a night for studio accommodation.


Tonnage: 43,524 tons

Flag: The Bahamas

Entered service: February, 2002

Length: 644 feet

Beam: 97 feet

Draught: 22 feet

Decks: 12

Maximum speed: 18.5 knots

Capacity: Average occupancy of 320 residents and guests in 110 privately owned residences and 88 studio apartments. Maximum capacity of 976 residents, guests and crew.

Itineraries: Continuous worldwide itinerary with extended stays of two days or more in many ports.

Services: Housekeeping, security and medical, catering, beauty salon, travel agency, laundry and dry cleaning, 24-concierge and 24-hour in-room dining.

Business facilities: Conference centre with communications, secretarial service.

Health and fitness: Two swimming pools, full-size tennis court, golf simulator, jogging track and retractable marina.

Cultural activities: Lectures, library, concerts, art exhibitions and shore excursions.