Considering a Cruise Ship Retirement? Here’s What You Need To Know First

Closeup front view of a senior couple having some drinks with a younger couple they met on a sailing cruise.
gilaxia / Getty Images

Many individuals are planning to set sail as part of their target retirement lifestyle, but not necessarily through short-term options like spending weekends on a boat. Some retirees plan to retire aboard a cruise ship.

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Embracing life as a long-term cruiser does offer some benefits including the ability to sail around the world and receive discounts through loyalty programs offered through cruise lines. But for all the convenience, is it more aspirational or impractical to retire on a cruise ship? 

Here’s what the financial feasibility of retiring at sea looks like.

What It Costs To Retire on a Cruise Ship

CNN interviewed several long-term cruisers about their experiences spending long-term stays onboard cruise ships. Some interviewees said retirement on a cruise ship was much less expensive than retiring on land. This is especially true for those who might be facing retirement in an assisted living facility, which can cost thousands of dollars each month.

Angela Rice, co-founder of Boutique Travel Advisors, has looked into long-term cruising as a viable opportunity for retirees who want to not only explore the world but see cruising as an opportunity to increase the value of their senior years without spending more money for the level of service and amenities often needed or desired at this age.

Retire Comfortably

The cost of a long-term cruise, for at least three months or more, varies depending on the cruise line. Rice said long-term stays on a contemporary cruise versus a luxury cruise would be no different than the monthly cost of a retirement community, whether you rent or own.

“The cruise line and itinerary plus the cabin you choose will be the biggest drivers of cost,” Rice said. “Retirees will also want to consider the passenger count, service provided and other amenities of value to you such as daily cleaning, complimentary laundry services and the inclusion of tours and activities.”

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Will Your Living Expenses Go Up or Down?

The greater need you have for amenities and inclusions, the more the value of cruising will go up for you, as these expenses are likely high if you receive them from your home. 

In order to determine if cruising will save you money, Rice said you need to evaluate the costs you will no longer incur while cruising compared to the cost of cruising. For example, retirees who own a home may consider renting it out while they are aboard. 

Retire Comfortably

“If you are debating between selling your home or downsizing, while cruising, you could create a window of time before you secure your next home or choose to rent or move into an adult living community,” Rice said. “This would eliminate unnecessary expenses such as mortgage and mortgage interest payments and home maintenance expenses.”

Practical Limitations To Consider

Even if a retiree can afford to retire abroad on a cruise ship, there are still certain considerations found only on dry land to think about.

  • Do you plan to go back to work? If you retire and find you miss working, you may need to figure out if you want to work on a cruise ship. There may be remote opportunities available for retirees, but this type of work isn’t for everyone.
  • Are you in good health? While cruise lines do have a medical facility, patients may not receive the same kind of treatment there as they would in a hospital. If you need comprehensive medical care, retiring on a cruise line may not be in your best interest.
  • Are you used to having a lot of space? Cruise ships only have a limited amount of room, especially compared to a retiree who lives in a neighborhood with a park or in a big city. The limited amount of space could make a retiree feel cramped or trapped on a ship.
  • Do you want to stay close to your family? It’s hard to keep in touch with your children, and grandchildren, if you’re spending most of your days at sea. If you know there are plenty of upcoming events and milestones you want to witness, retirees may reconsider a long-term cruise stay.

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About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

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