The Future of … Living the Dream: Retiring on a Cruise Ship

Want to sail around the world … from home? For a small—but growing—number of people, cruise ship retirement has become a dream realized.

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    The Future of … Living the Dream: Retiring on a Cruise Ship

    The Future of … Living the Dream: Retiring on a Cruise Ship

    Many retirees harbor the dream of sailing around the world, basking in the cruise ship retirement and lifestyle, and visiting exotic ports of call. For a small—but growing—number of retirees, cruise ships have become their retirement home.

    The Lure of a Cruise Ship Retirement

    Whatever individuals’ varied retirement dreams may be, there are a number of common aspirations that a cruise ship may uniquely be capable of meeting, including:

    • Travel and New Experiences—Travel tops most retirees’ checklists in retirement. Cruise ships make travel and finding new experiences a way of life, rather than something done in short, episodic bursts.
    • Remain Active: Physically, Intellectually and Socially—Retirement happiness is directly correlated to how well retirees are engaged in self-growth and interacting with others. Life on a cruise ship provides plenty of opportunities to meet people, enjoy entertainment and social events, pursue hobbies, and keep physically active.
    • Low Hassle Living—With meals and housekeeping provided by ship staff, retirees can sidestep the many mundane chores that can eat up the days they spend in retirement.

    This lifestyle doesn’t come cheaply, but it may not be as expensive as imagined. For individuals considering a cruise ship retirement, the financial comparison should include the cost of maintaining a home (mortgage, rent, property taxes, etc.), food budget (including dining out) and other expenses that may be covered by the cost of living aboard a ship.

    Living on the Seas

    The number of options for retiring at sea have expanded, though cruise ship retirement is still in its early days. Individuals can consider an outright cruise ship condo purchase, though the cost can be quite high. However, one recent entrant into this market, Storylines, is now offering a ship with 450 cabins whose prices range from $352,000 to $3.2 million, and is expected to set sail in 2020.

    An Australian company is taking a slightly different approach, providing lease options for a 20-year term, which can be sold if individuals choose not to complete the full term.

    Other cruise lines offer specific packages for year-around sailing, including Oceania Cruises’ “Snowbird in Residence” package and Crystal Cruises’ “Crystal Residence” option.

    A Word of Caution

    As exciting as near-continual travel may sound, it is not without drawbacks, such as transitory friendships, disconnection from family and friends, generally small rooms and an unchanging living landscape.

    Additionally, though most ships have doctors and reasonably sophisticated health care facilities on board, they are not equipped to handle certain health issues that may require constant attention.

    In the end, retirees can always take the go-slow approach by booking an extended cruise to get a taste of what living on a ship may be like. And, despite what Thomas Wolfe may have claimed, “you can always go back home again.”

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