Should You Retire on a Cruise Ship?

Do you ever wish your vacation didn’t have to end? If you live on a cruise ship year-round, it doesn’t have to. Although it might sound strange, some retirees actually spend years living on a cruise ship. The unusual retirement option comes with some compelling perks, but before you say bon voyage, make sure you understand the possible problems you could encounter.

What are the costs?

Vacations tend to be expensive. A cruise is normally considered a type of vacation. Therefore, it follows that retiring on a cruise must be expensive. To determine whether or not this is true, however, it’s important to look at the actual costs.

There’s a lot of cost variation, both on land and by sea. On land, where you live will have a huge impact on how much you spend. On a cruise ship, which company you go with and what deals you can get will affect your costs.

Some cruise tickets only cost around $50 to $60 per person per night. Other cruises will cost hundreds of dollars per person per night. Vacationers often spend much more on alcoholic drinks, shopping trips and shore excursions, but a retiree living on the cruise ship could avoid many of these extras.

According to the Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey, a year in an assisted living facility costs an average of $48,000 a year, which breaks down to just over $131 per day.

What are the perks?

If you love traveling, or if you always wish you’d traveled more, the perks are easy to see. Living on a cruise is a great way to explore the world.

When you’re on a cruise, your basic needs are taken care of. Housekeeping is provided. Food is provided, although you may have to pay extra for certain restaurants and alcoholic beverages, as well as food you eat while on shore. You don’t need to worry about planning your itinerary, either.

Cruises often provide a wide range of entertainment, from comedy shows and art auctions to swimming pools, spas and casinos. Some of this, like pool access, will be included in the ticket price, but some other amenities will cost extra.

What are the downsides?

Things can go wrong no matter where you live. However, when you’re stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, these problems can get really bad, really fast.

  • Illness. Every once in a while, you’ll hear a news story about an outbreak of norovirus on a cruise ship. However, the CDC says that norovirus and other cases of acute gastrointestinal illness are actually relatively uncommon on cruise ships.
  • Weather. Rough seas can cause problems for ships. This was seen recently, when a cruise ship in the Norwegian Sea suffered engine failure during a storm. According to Reuters, 479 people were airlifted to safety, including many seniors.
  • Crime and political turmoil. This is always a concern when you’re traveling. However, cruise ships have one problem that you might associate with the days of yore: pirate attacks. Yes, in some areas, pirates have been known to attack cruise ships.

Even if nothing major goes wrong, you may still encounter problems.

  • You could miss your friends and family back on land.
  • You might not be able to stay on the same ship for a long period of time.
  • The rooms tend to be very small.
  • You won’t be able to bring much with you. This is taking downsizing to the extreme.
  • Cruise ships should have medical facilities, but some services and prescriptions may not be available onboard. Medicare doesn’t typically provide coverage outside the United States.

Is cruise life right for you?

Retiring on a cruise sounds very appealing, but before you sell your home and get rid of your belongings, think about whether it’s really right for you. The downsides may outweigh the benefits, and you might find that you grow tired of cruise life after a while. If you’ve never been on a cruise before, start with a vacation before committing to a new lifestyle.