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Cruise ship retirees
Cruise ship retirees

Ocean living: 10 things to consider about retiring on a cruise ship

When Cruise Passenger reported on a growing trend among retirees to spend their time at sea, we were unprepared for the huge rush of interest our story would cause.

Over 70,000 readers clicked shared and commented on the article, which talked to couples who were actually doing it.

Many asked the questions Barbara did: I would love to get more info regarding living on a Cruise Ship? 1 person? Thank you
Barbara

The story of Angelyn Burk and her husband’s journey to retire at sea sparked a frenzy of research. 

Natalie Ball the director of CompareTravelInsurance.com says:

“Seniors are living longer and research shows they are becoming more, not less active in their retirement. They want to make friends, learn skills and see the world. It seems that those playing Bridge would prefer to do it with a mojito in the middle of the Pacific.”

Research from CompareTravelInsurance.com says that one in ten people aged 65 and over planned to go on a cruise pre-pandemic and 30% would consider long-term cruising rather than staying at home or assisted living. 

If you find yourself in this 30%, here’s what you need to know.

How much will you be spending?

The costs is the key part of this all, with the dual consideration of if you can afford it, and how much a cruise ship differs from the costs of assisted living. Goodwin Investment breaks the costs down as so, the average cruiser spends $300 per day, but this can be brought down to about $140 or less with proper planning. 

Goodwin Investment puts the cost of average retirement facilities at about $5200 per month, compared to $4200 if you were able to stick to that $140 per day. However, that price wouldn’t always include specialty restaurants, all entertainment, gratuities, drinks, and would also need to be on a less expensive, non-luxury cruise line. 

According to the math it can be done incredibly reasonably, but this will of course require thorough planning.

Diamond Princess passengers

Who will you meet? 

You will need to assemble yourself a little team of advisors to making sure you’re proceeding in your own best interests financially and health-wise. Your first consultant should be with a financial planner, to ensure you’ve got the room in your wallet to make this retirement happen. Then you’ll likely want to get the all-clear from your doctor. Then if everything else to set to go, start chatting with your travel agent and finding some deals. 

Keep prices down 

Finance Strategists say that in 2018, the average spend on someone on a cruise ship was around $300 per day, however, this number can be brought right down by being astute. Well known long term cruiser Mama Lee Wachtstetter said she would get the best deals by booking six months ahead of time. Looking for special promotions rather than booking the first thing you see will also cut prices, then you may be able to get further discounts by booking back-to-back cruises.

Test it out first 

Before you make the decision to take your retirement to the seas, it’s best to test out your resolve with a few back-to-back cruises or at least one long term cruise. Being on a ship for a months is a completely different experience to shorter cruising and you want to be sure it’s what you want before financially committing. 

Insurance

Cruising the world comes with plenty of medical risks, especially at an older age. You can easily fall ill and find yourself subject to the costs of foreign hospitals or even needing an evacuation from the ship. This makes insurance a critical piece of the puzzle when looking into cruise retirement. Ms Ball says: “Some insurers may specifically exclude cruising or have it as an add-on. Many do not cover pre-existing conditions, have limited medical cover for those over 80, or may charge a significant excess for seniors. Check the policy carefully before you buy, so you can set sail with peace of mind.”

The downsides

While retiring on a cruise might sound like pure fantasy, it’s good to be aware of and consider some of the downsides. For example having to leave family behind comes with a large psychological cost, as well as any pets. You won’t have your regular doctors or other services around, a lot of budgeting and planning is required, it can be difficult to stay healthy with the dining options and ease. It’s important to have a long consideration of the some of the less glamorous aspects before signing yourself up to this new life.

Cruise ship retirement - is it cheaper?What does retirement mean?

One thing to keep in mind is that in the post-COVID work revolution, fewer and fewer people are confined to offices. This means that if you have a remote job, you may be able to live and work on a cruise ship starting from now, rather than waiting for your retirement. Mario Salcedo, has famously cruises on Royal Caribbean ships for more than 23 years, all while running his online business. 

Cruise ships v residences 

If you’re looking to retire at the sea, you have the choice between booking a number of cruises, or booking a residence on a residential ship. While prices can be incredibly steep for a residency with a private ship like The World, there are some other options such as Storylines. Marty Finver is a Florida cruise fanatic who is trading out back-to-back cruising for a residency.

Back-to-back cruising, while extremely enjoyable in the past, can be a pain in the neck at times.

No matter how careful you are, there will always be gaps between cruises and this involves extra costs of hotels, flights and other inconveniences.”

Back to back versus world cruises 

Depending on your preferences you have the option of booking back-to-back cruises versus world cruises. Back-to-back cruises will give you a bit more flexibility in terms of where you want to go and who you want to sail with, but will come with a lot more admin. World cruises will require you to be vigilant with booking as they sell out quickly, but will allow you to settle into yourself for a longer time.

Rent out your home

If you own a home but are craving the sea, renting out your home can pay for your life at sea and give you financial security. Even other assets like cars or holiday homes could be rented out to fund your new ocean-bound life.