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

When cruise passenger reports a growing trend among retirees to spend their time at sea, we were unprepared for the huge interest in our story.

Over 70,000 readers clicked on shared and commented on the article, which spoke to couples who actually did it.

Many have asked the questions Barbara asked: Would I like more information about life on a cruise ship? 1 person? Thank you

the story of Angelyn Burk and her husband voyage to retire at sea sparked a search frenzy.

Natalie Ball the director of said:

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

Research of says that one in ten people aged 65 and over planned to go on a cruise before the pandemic and 30% would consider a long-term cruise rather than staying at home or living with assistance.

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

How much are you going to spend?

Costs are key to all of this, with the dual consideration of whether you can afford it and how much a cruise ship differs from assisted living costs. Goodwin Investment Breaks down the costs like this, the average cruiser spends $300 a day, but that can be reduced to around $140 or less with good planning.

Goodwin Investment puts the cost of the average retirement facility at around $5200 a month, compared to $4200 if you could stick to that $140 a day. However, this price would not always include specialty restaurants, all entertainment, gratuities, drinks and should also be on a less expensive, non-luxury cruise line.

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

Who are you going to meet?

You will need to assemble a small team of advisors yourself to ensure that you are doing this in your own financial and health interests. Your first adviser should be with a financial planner, to make sure you have room in your portfolio to make that retirement a reality. Next, you’ll probably want to get the all-clear from your doctor. Then, if everything else is in place, start talking to your travel agent and finding deals.

Keep prices low

Financial strategists let’s say that in 2018 the average spend for someone on a cruise ship was around $300 a day, however, this number can be reduced by being smart. Well-known longtime cruiser Mama Lee Wachtstetter said she would get the best deals by booking six months in advance. Looking for special promotions rather than booking the first thing you see will also reduce prices, so you may be able to get further discounts by booking back-to-back cruises.

Test it first

Before making the decision to retire at sea, it is best to test your resolve with a few consecutive cruises or at least one long cruise. Being on a ship for a month is a completely different experience than a shorter cruise and you want to be sure that’s what you want before you commit financially.


Navigating the world carries many medical risks, especially in old age. You can easily fall ill and find yourself incurring charges from foreign hospitals or even needing to be evacuated from the ship. This makes insurance an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to opting out of a cruise. Ms Ball says: “Some insurers may specifically exclude cruising or have it as an option. Many don’t cover pre-existing conditions, have limited medical coverage for those over 80, or may charge a large deductible for seniors. Check the policy carefully before buying, so you can browse with peace of mind.

The inconvenients

While retiring on a cruise might seem like a fantasy, it’s good to be aware and consider some of the downsides. For example, having to abandon one’s family entails a significant psychological cost, as well as any pets. You won’t have your usual doctors or other services around, a lot of budgeting and planning is required, it can be difficult to stay healthy with the food options and ease. It is important to think long and hard about some of the less glamorous aspects before committing 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 workplace 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 from now on, rather than waiting for your retirement. Mario Salcedo, has been celebrating his cruises on Royal Caribbean ships for over 23 years, while running his business online.

Cruise ships versus residences

If you’re looking to retire at sea, you have the choice of booking multiple cruises or booking a residence on a residential ship. Although prices can be incredibly high for a residence with a private vessel like The World, there are other options such as Scripts. Marty Finver is a Florida cruise fanatic who trades back-to-back cruises for residency.

Consecutive cruises, while extremely enjoyable in the past, can sometimes be a pain.

No matter how careful you are, there will always be gaps between cruises and that means extra costs for hotels, flights and other inconveniences.

Back to back against world cruises

Depending on your preferences, you have the option of booking back-to-back cruises versus world cruises. Consecutive 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 administration. World cruises will require you to be vigilant with booking as they sell out quickly, but will allow you to settle in longer.

Rent your house

If you own a home but crave the sea, renting 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 to finance your new life at sea.