A Melbourne startup, Cruise Retirement Ltd founded by former Ramsay Healthcare executive Christian Bannard is entering the challenging business of residential cruising.

The company is targeting the 50-plus age group who like to travel extensively by offering them an alternative retirement lifestyle – the right to buy a 20-year lease on a cruise cabin.

The ship, Enchanted Explorer, currently berthed in Mexico is about to relocate to shipyards in Curacao to be refurbished as a floating residential apartment for grey-haired cruisers.

“We are progressing well with our planned timelines, with the ship to be rebuilt to our unique specifications with a view to making her far more suitable for perpetual Around the World voyages and long-term residency.

“This next phase of our evolution will include final configuration of our residence layouts and public areas which will all be specifically designed to suit your requirements as a community; we are doing this to ensure you’ll enjoy your home while travelling the world in comfort,” Mr Bannard said in to note to potential investors.

By buying a 20-year lease of a cruise cabin, mature cruisers are essentially purchasing “an alternative lifestyle in retirement.”

“Our pricing is set to such a point that it is affordable for the majority of middle income earners looking at retirement options,” the company’s website said.

Cruise Retirement was founded five years ago.

Some 500 potential investors have been selected to become the company’s “in-house advisory committee.”

They have been asked to answer questions on how they would like apartments to look like, including colour scheme, layout, culinary expectations, services, amenities and pricing models.

“Your opinions will matter and in a non-binding way, you get to tell us exactly what you want when you look to becoming a resident onboard a Cruise Retirement vessel,’’ Mr Bannard said.

In the questionnaire, the residential cruise ship will have a range of apartments from an inside studio stateroom with virtual portholes to a three-bedroom Grand Suite residence. Investors are asked what purchase price they would consider with five options – from $150,000 to $300,000; $300,000 to $500,000; $500,000 to $650,000; $650,000 to $900,000 and upwards of $900,000.

Investors are also asked whether they would purchase a residence, participate in a timeshare or rent.

The Enchanted Explorer is expected to have restaurants, cafes, library, card room, theatre, beauty salon, swimming pool, virtual golf simulators and practice nets and fully staffed medical facilities.

Longer, multi-month cruise packages are offered by other lines.

Oceania Cruises launched a Snowbirds in Residence program last year to attract retirees who want to escape the cold and go for months-long voyages in the Caribbean. Then there’s the super-luxury The World, an opulent apartment cruise ship which is privately owned by its millionaire resident cruisers.