Currently, about 10,000 people are turning 65 each and every day. For those who choose to leave the workforce, retirement signals a major life transition. They might not be tied to the current home once they stop working. As a result, they can significantly alter their lifestyle. For some, that means spending their golden years on a cruise ship.

How Retiring on a Cruise Ship Works

Retiring on a cruise ship isn’t all that different than booking a cruise ship vacation. The main difference involves the duration, as retirees who want to remain aboard long-term aren’t going to book for one-week intervals.

In some cases, retirees decide to buy a cabin. This makes them a permanent resident, and several cruise lines allow people to essentially purchase the cabin as a condo. After buying, the owner still has access to various cruise ship amenities.

How Much Retiring on a Cruise Ship Costs

It is difficult to determine exactly how much it costs to retire on a cruise ship. One estimate shows that the average passenger spends about $213 per day to be on the ship. For an entire year, that comes out to $77,745.

With an average length of retirement at 18 years, a retiree could feasibly spend nearly $1.4 million if they retire on a cruise ship for that period. In comparison, people aged 65 to 74 usually only spend just under $49,000 per year. For the same 18-year timeframe, that totals to $882,000.

However, the cost of living on a cruise ship is impacted by the average cruise ship duration, which usually comes in near 8 days. Since retirees living on a cruise ship are there for extended stays, their daily rate may be different based on the longer durations without leaving. It may be possible to negotiate a discount, which could make it more affordable.

Additionally, if a retiree decides to buy a cabin, the financial side is different. How much a cabin can cost varies dramatically. Some smaller units on select ships may be under $400,000. However, large units in luxury vessels can be several million.

For example, Storylines has 172 square foot cabins for $352,235. There are also annual assessments of $70 per person for access to all-inclusive amenities at that tier.

On the higher end, Storylines’ 1259 to 1690 square foot cabins start at about $3.3 million. And that doesn’t include the all-inclusive assessment of $230 per day.

Additionally, practically none of the cruise ship arrangements cover any spending when you leave the ship. If you decide to explore a port city, that is more money you’ll have to spend. While all-inclusive arrangements lesson the need by covering costs like food and internet, you might want the option to experience local cultures, and that comes with a price tag.

You also have to contend with handling land-based expenses. If you keep your home or want to store your personal belongings and vehicles, that increases your overall spending.

Healthcare Considerations

If you retire on a cruise ship that travels internationally, your healthcare situation becomes a bit more complex. Medicare won’t always cover you outside of the US, so you might need a private health insurance supplement to handle your medical needs while traveling.

Cruise ships generally have very limited medical services available. Typically, they are equipped to handle various acute situations, like a mild injury or illness. Beyond that, you may have to leave the ship, and that can be hard to arrange if you are in the middle of the ocean.

Before You Retire on a Cruise Ship

If you simply can’t resist the idea of retiring on a cruise ship, then you should address certain things before you set sail. Calculate a retirement budget to make sure it’s affordable. Decide how you’ll handle your personal property. Evaluate your various insurance needs, such as medical and travel insurance.

Once that is handled, you should also comparison shop before making any formal plans. There are a surprising number of options out there, so you want to make sure you pick an approach that works best for you and gives you the lifestyle you want.

Finally, you might want to speak with a financial planner. Being on a cruise ship doesn’t make you exempt from federal taxes, so having a professional review your situation and help you plan isn’t a bad idea.


Would you retire on a cruise ship? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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