There is an old story re-circulating the internet. The story of a person on a cruise ship who encounters a retiree living aboard. It seems like a convincing idea!


But how truthful is it? The story itself is approximately 10 years old and the question of wether cruise ship retiring is a viable option has been discussed many times. Let’s examine some pros and cons.

The Pros

#1. The Best Amenities
One thing is for certain, cruise ships are not lacking in amenities. Most cruise lines boast exquisite dining, entertainment, and shopping. You can attend live shows every evening, and be served breakfast in bed the next morning!

#2. Practically Hassle-Free
Because of the all-inclusive nature of cruise lines, there is much less hassle in terms of arranging food, transportation and travel. Cruise lines also excel in excellent service, thereby making your retirement practically worry-free.

#3. Nearly Limitless Entertainment
Cruise ships offer incredible entertainment on board, from swimming pools, shops, to live musical performances. If you manage to become bored of the entertainment on the ship, just wait until your ship arrives at a port, and explore the local environment. Cruise ships also offer planned excursions (costs extra) once the ship has docked at port.

#4. Perfect If You’re A People Person
Cruises generally last 7 to 14 days, which means you’ll make a whole new set of friends approximately every two weeks! If you’re a social butterfly, and prefer quantity over quality, then cruise living is for you.

#5. Travel The World
If you have wanderlust, cruise ship living is an easy and relatively affordable way to see the world.

The Cons

#1. Less Contact With Family And Friends
Because you are travelling the world, you have less contact with your loved ones. This can be circumvented slightly with video chatting. If you are someone who maintains strong family connections, cruise ship living will be difficult, especially if you have grandchildren.

#2. No Tax Deductions
Many assisted living facilities, retirement homes, and hospices offer tax deductions to alleviate the cost of care. If you are planning a cruise ship retirement, you are unable to apply for these deductions.

#3. Medical Care
Though cruise ships offer excellent medical care, it is often at a premium, and can be quite costly. Not to mention, ships do not offer any specialists, geriatric or otherwise. Therefore, if you are in good health, this can be a retirement option, however should your health decline, or should you fall ill, you will have to rethink your options.

#4. Assisted Living Is Not Offered
Though cruising is all-inclusive, cruise ships do not have assisted living facilities, or arrangements to accommodate those who require more assistance with day-to day activities. As such, you may have to arrange a nurse or caretaker to travel with you, which will no doubt add to your cost.

#5. No Lasting Connections
Similar to being away from family and friends, the people you meet on cruise ships are generally there for holiday, and will depart in a week or two. This can be desired if you enjoy meeting new people, but for the more introverted, or those who prefer a few deeper friendships will find these lacking aboard a cruise ship.

#6. Activities May Not Cater To Seniors
Though cruise ships offer excellent entertainment services, not all may cater to seniors. Unlike nursing homes, cruise ships must cater to a wide demographic, and generally offer events suitable for all ages, that seniors may not find as enjoyable.

The Cost

The cost effectiveness of this retirement plan is rather murky. Much of the research detailing the cost of living in a retirement home versus a cruise ship is dated, and does not take into account a fair comparison. The most cited study, conducted by Dr. Lindquist of Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, does not indicate a clear comparison when calculating the cost. It is not specified whether Dr. Lindquist was using the cost of living on a mid-range ship or high-range ship, and comparing it to a low-cost retirement home or a high end one. On average, the cost per day to live in a retirement facility in the US, in 2010 was reported to be about $622, contrary to the $457.53 per day that one 86 year-old cruiser spent while living aboard ship. It is possible this woman had worked out a special rate with the cruise line. Often, cruise ships will offer a discounted rate if you purchase in bulk or in advance. That sum doesn’t account for expenses occurred while at port, or extras not included such as medical care.

The Conclusion

If you are in good health and do not require much medical care, this can be a great option for you. It’s an affordable and hassle-free way to see the world, and is perfect if you have wanderlust. However, if you prefer to remain close to friends and family, perhaps consider a partial retirement at sea. Many seniors will retire to the sea during the winter months, then return home to family and friends. Either way, cruise ship living offers a glamorous mode of travel, and an excellent place to stay, whether you’re retiring or on vacation!