Let\’s start with a few statistics: most (84%) people want to retire close to water; most (71%) people over 40 like to take cruises, and many (40%) of those surveyed cite climate as the most important consideration in choosing a retirement location. Is there a place where we can turn these statistics into one tidy and affordable package? How about living on a converted cruise ship?

I had the opportunity to tour the “Alegria” (the working name of the ship meaning joy or happiness), which is undergoing its final transformation to a floating community before being docked in its permanent home, Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is the concept: when you purchase one of the 100 staterooms (160 to 340 square feet), you also become a 1/100 owner of the ship. Prices range from $159,000 to $399,000 and there is also a monthly maintenance fee that entitles you to all meals on the ship, weekly housekeeping, local country club membership (golf and tennis), port fees and bus shuttles. Residents will determine the itinerary of the ship (monthly trips to the Bahamas, annual Central American and/or Caribbean cruises). The ship also offers 12 guest rooms (the staterooms that lack windows) for visitors – for free! – meals included. There will be a full-time nurse on board.

Is this type of lifestyle for everyone? The staterooms are compact, and although they may contain a microwave and/or small refrigerator, they will not have an oven or stove. So, if preparing your own meals is a passion, and you need lots of space in your residence, this won\’t be the place for you. But, if you\’d be happy to eat almost every meal out, are looking for a ready-made social group (the set-up would be ideal for singles), and like the idea of living on the water at an affordable price with a wonderful climate and amenities close by, and not leaving home while you do some traveling, contact Mark Boyd at Waterfront Lifestyles International (www.condoships.com or 866-945-2789). About a third of the condos have already been sold.

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007). She gives seminars on the (primarily) non-financial aspects of retirement through her company, "Retirement Living from A to Z."