Honolulu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor are just a few of the many sights that make Honolulu a great cruise port for world travelers.

Robert Harding World Imagery/Offset

My wife and I are enjoying cocktails on the 12th deck of the Crystal Serenity, watching another Indian Ocean sunset in high definition. It's mid-March 2014. The worst winter in decades has buried our Pennsylvania home in snow and ice. But here we are in the midst of a three-month world cruise, sporting very nice tans.

Subscribe to the AARP Travel Newsletter and get inspired for your next trip

AARP MEMBER DISCOUNTS
Discounts on Cruises

Savings on cruises booked through Liberty Travel and AARP® Travel Center Powered by Expedia®

SEE MORE

If you've reached a point in life where you're ready to do something big, to cross a major item off your bucket list, to maybe even change your life as you come to a new stage of it, then world cruising could be for you.

Once seen as exclusive to the elite, cruising the world has become much more mainstream and popular. To be sure, it's still a splurge. Prices range from $19,999 to $59,950 per person for about four months at sea, depending on the cruise line and its amenities. But the global cruise industry introduced 29 ships in 2013–14 and plans to add another 20 in the next three years.

See also: How to find a cruise ship that fits you

Oceania Cruises, the most recent line to enter the world-cruise market, took things to another level when last year it offered a mega Around the World in 180 Days trip for 2015. The January 2015 sailing had to be delayed and shortened after a fire on an earlier cruise damaged an engine room, but demand was so great for that voyage that Oceania added another for July and a third for January 2016.

"More lines are offering world cruises, and the trips are getting longer," says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of the website Cruise Critic. "It's an incredibly comfortable way to see a lot of unique places without ever packing and unpacking. It's one of the best travel values available today. Lots of people who used to rent or buy winter homes are taking world cruises instead. The ship becomes their winter home, and they wake up to a different scene every day."

If that sounds sweet, I can assure you it is. My wife and I have done seven world cruises where we worked teaching yoga and writing classes to fellow sailors.

I never thought I'd enjoy this mode of travel, let alone be able to withstand three to four consecutive months at sea, but the sights you see, the perspective you acquire, the people you meet and, of course, the impeccable service and gourmet cuisine make it impossible not to be enchanted.