Retirement Communities

12/17/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Most people who vacation on a cruise ship thoroughly enjoy the experience. What’s not to like? They get to travel, have new experiences, enjoy plenty of dining options, be entertained, receive personal service, and meet new people. It’s a wonderful way to spend a week or two. However, a small minority of these people have chosen to take things one step further and remain on the ship full-time. Yes, they are choosing cruise ship retirement. And while it sounds at first blush like an ideal way to spend those “golden years,” is it a feasible option for retirement living?

Retirement can be a constant voyage

According to the Cruise Lines International Association, 28.5 million people took a cruise in 2018, and about a third of them were 60 or older. While there are no statistics from the association on how many full-time retiree cruisers exist, only a few have been verified to have settled into a permanent retirement aboard a cruise ship.

Although the major cruise lines might have relatively few long-term residents, one line bills itself as “the largest privately-owned residential yacht on earth.” The World: Residences at Sea has 165 units and an average resident age of 66. And other lines are making plans to follow suit by providing communities for full-time residents.

How much does cruise ship retirement cost?

Here’s the rub: retiring on The World costs $600,000 for a studio, $2 to $3 million for a two-bedroom apartment, and up to $13 million for a suite. You could opt for a short-term rental that could range from $550 per person per night for a studio up to $20,000 per month for a suite. Annual ownership costs are additional. Based on the apartment’s square footage, the fees include operations, crew compensation, and food and beverages.

Oceania Cruises recently introduced a Snowbirds in Residence program targeting “residents of northern climes looking to escape the cold and snow for warm tropical breezes and swaying palm trees.” Rather than being permanently retired on one of their cruise ships, residents sign up for either a 58- or 72-day stay. Prices started at $16,000 for the shorter trip and $20,000 for the longer., a site dedicated to everything cruising, projected the costs of living on a cruise ship for one year. The estimates below are for two people aboard the Carnival Horizon:

Cruise Fare$103,716.00
Port Fees and Taxes$14,190.00
Onboard Spending$46,672.00

Should you consider retiring on a cruise ship?

The idea of retiring on a cruise ship can be tempting. The constant entertainment, opportunity for travel, social aspect, and service would entice most people. It could even be less expensive than a nursing home in some cases. But before you sell your home and pack your bags for good, here are some points to ponder:

  • You won’t get the same level of care as you would in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
  • Since most passengers are there for the short term, you won’t develop long-term friendships.
  • It can be quite a bit more expensive when compared to the average assisted living cost of $51,600 annually.
  • Cruise ship retirement only works if you are healthy.
  • Not all health insurance providers will cover cruise ship medical care.
  • You are likely to gain weight with all the readily available food on the ship.
  • Visiting the same parts of the world could lose its appeal.
  • You might have to adhere to a dress code.

If none of these potential disadvantages deters you from retiring on the sea, it’s probably a good idea to try it out with a few shorter stays before fully committing. Sample a few different cruise lines to get a feel for what a floating retirement would feel like. That way, you can quit if it doesn’t suit you.

Related: Should I retire in a Blue Zone?

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff