Living on a cruise ship: Figuring out the costs and benefits

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(CNN) – Angelin Burke has been in love with cruising since she first boarded a megaship in 1992 to travel to the Caribbean.

Now that the 53-year-old has retired from her accounting job, she and her husband, Richard, are retiring on a cruise ship – planning to go sunset for good.

Berks, who last lived in the Seattle area but has been independent since May 2021, has calculated what he can afford for everyday life during his retirement years.

Angelin says the number is $ 100 or less per day to cover the cost of their lives for two of them (with a buffer to spend up to $ 135 per day if necessary).

“Currently, this year, we’ve secured 86 cruise days for both of us with an average cost of $ 89 / day,” she says via email. “This includes rooms, food, entertainment, transportation, gratuity, port fees and taxes.”

“This is well within our retirement budget,” she says, adding that taking frequent cruises has offered the couple deep discounts on future trips through the loyalty program.

Most of the 86 days booked by Berks this year are in Holland America, with Carnival on board for about a week. And among many Destination The couple will visit Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Alaska, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“When planning a cruise, I try to stay on the same ship as long as possible, as long as it’s cost-effective,” says Angelin, adding that the couple plans to spend most of their retirement years on cruise ships. Land

About the benefits of going home floating for his retirement, she says, is clear.

“Where can you take your resort to different countries while relaxing by the pool or sleeping in a comfortable bed?”

Angeline Burke is a big fan of relaxing on the ship while traveling between destinations.

Angeline Burke is a big fan of relaxing on the ship while traveling between destinations.

Angeline Burke

A tempting retirement or work-anywhere-anywhere plan

Thinking of retiring on a cruise ship? You are not alone.

Deciding to retire or work on a cruise ship is generally rare, but not new.

Prior to the epidemic, which disrupted the investment of some long-term cruise ships, Crystal Cruise (which declared bankruptcy in early 2022) and the Royal Caribbean Group had at least two passengers who lived on their ship for years and who became celebrities in cruising circles.

One of them, Mario Salcedo, is still working while cruising. Nicknamed Super Mario, Salcedo has been on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship for over two decades. CNN Travel tried to reach him via Royal Caribbean, but the line says his top cruiser no longer does media interviews.

“There is a sense of home for all our guests, especially those who spend most of the year traveling on our ships,” Mark Tamis, senior vice president of Royal Caribbean International, told CNN Travel in a statement. “For example, one of my favorite guests, Super Mario, has an ‘office’ on the top deck of each ship and has VOOM streaming internet service so he can work from anywhere in the world.”

Another famous long-distance cruiser, “Mama” Lee Watchstator, spent years on Crystal Serenity and wrote a memoir, “I may be homeless but you should see my yacht.” She details some of her cruising shenanigans, including the time she was abducted by rogue waves in the Mediterranean Sea and a tuk-tuk driver in Thailand.

In March 2017, when cruising website Cruise Critic asked the question “Will you retire at sea?” In a poll on its website, 59% of respondents said they would choose to retire at sea or try it for at least a few years (another 27% of respondents said, “Maybe, if the price was right”).

“It’s definitely something that is ambitious,” says Colin McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critics. “We always hear from our cruisers that retiring onboard is something they would be interested in doing.”

McDaniel points to the convenience factor of cruising – “seeing the world from your home where you take care of all your meals, excellent service and things like onboard laundry” – as one of its main appeals for those considering an onboard retirement. .

Having a built-in community also appeals to those who want to go on a cruise ship in the long run. McDaniel says crew members can be like family to many long-term travelers.

Potential cost advantage

And the affordability of cruising is another selling point compared to retired life on land, she says.

“Assisted living is not a cheap proposal. It costs thousands and thousands of dollars per month depending on where you live,” says McDaniel. “So cruising is a potentially more cost-effective way to retire.”

Malcolm Myers, 88, who once spent 10 months directly aboard the Seven Seas Voyager, a Regent Seven Seas ship, says that although the luxury line is not cheap, the average price is comparable to what it pays in its upper-class senior living community. Is. Stuart, Florida.

“If I had to go to a senior (more comprehensive care) facility in my community, the cost of staying on board would definitely be better,” Myers told CNN in an email. “And I will have a variety of entertainment, lectures and restaurants and medical care at my disposal at no extra cost.”

McDaniel of Cruise Critics notes that while the cruise line has an onboard medical facility, it is not the same as being next to a hospital.

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“They can handle just as much onboard,” she says, so it’s important to consider land-based options for migration insurance and health care if you need medical care while cruising.

Interest in world cruises is growing

McDaniel points to world cruises and shorter grand voyages (usually about 30 to 40 days long), not to “dip your toe” in long-term cruising to better understand if retirement on a cruise ship is something to be better understood. Offered as a route. May appeal to you.

And she says she thinks “there’s a real link between people willing to spend more than 100 nights on a ship and those who can see retirement as a real convenience.”

Ralph Bias, president of Amazing Cruises in Miami Beach, says bookings are on the rise for World Cruise, a luxury cruise booking agency whose revenue and bookings doubled between 2020 and 2021 and nearly tripled in 2022.

“2023 is set to be our biggest year, with world cruises and grand voyages moving forward and accounting for about 50% of revenue,” says Bias.

Oceania Cruises recently reported a one-day booking record for the entire world in a 180-day voyage that sold out within 30 minutes of opening for reservation.

Due to high demand, Viking Cruise is offering two parallel world cruises for the first time in 2023/2024. There are 57 ports of call in 28 countries on a 138-day voyage with the departure from Fort Lauderdale in December 2023 on Viking Sky and Viking Neptune.

“Even if you are not booking a world cruise, it is possible to book a back-to-back cruise that does not repeat the ports,” says Bias.

“Silverseas, Seaborn, Regent – all of these luxury cruise lines plan their schedules so they don’t have to repeat most of their travels,” says Bias. “So you can say you want to go to Seaborne Ovation and stay on it for three months and never repeat the port.”

“I have customers who are booked for months and months at a time,” he says.

Suzanne Lankes, pictured on the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas in March, bought the Storyline's cruise ship residence.

Suzanne Lankes, pictured on the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas in March, bought the Storyline’s cruise ship residence.

Suzanne Lankes

Concept designed for residents

A new residential cruise ship adds options to the market to stay aboard.

Suzanne Lancas is a retiree from Monterey Bay, California, who has dipped her toe in cruising on more than 55 boats around the world. The idea of ​​retiring on a cruise ship first came to her when she saw the luxury floating megaship The World carrying 165 accommodations in the Caribbean during Port of Call.

But when she called The World to inquire about the cost of buying a home, it was out of her budget.

“They wanted me to prove that I had $ 8 million in the bank or they wouldn’t even talk to me,” she says. “So I was disappointed.”

But when Lankas heard about the new and more affordable option in 2024, she became one of the first to settle on the MV narrative – a new “ocean-dwelling community” ship called Storylines.

The storylines "Residential community on the sea" There will be 524 one- to four-bedroom units.

Storylines “residential community by the sea” will have 524 one- to four-bedroom units.


The ship will have 524 accommodations and facilities including 20 dining and bar venues, an onboard education program for families with children, a movie theater, a hydroponic garden and extensive wellness and fitness offerings.

The ship’s one- to four-bedroom residences are currently selling for between થી 500,000 and $ 8 million on a 12- to 24-year lease. According to Storyline’s co-founder Alistair Panton, and they are expected to be sold before the end of 2022.

Lanx bought her one-bedroom apartment with a balcony on board the ship in 2019 and plans to pay an annual fee – ranging from $ 65,000 to $ 200,000 depending on the size of the unit and double occupancy – using the money she earns by renting her home in California.

Marty Finver, pictured in Bali in 2014, bought a one-bedroom residence on Storyline's MV Narrative.

Marty Finver, pictured in Bali in 2014, bought a one-bedroom residence on Storyline’s MV Narrative.

Marty Finver

Proceed from a back-to-back cruise

Marty Finver of Lake Worth, Florida, is another serial cruiser who has purchased a one-bedroom interior in MV Narrative and is eager to spend less time booking cruises and more time traveling and exploring new places.

“Walking backwards, while very enjoyable in the past, can sometimes cause neck pain,” says Finver, who has spent more than 3,750 days at sea since 2004. There will always be a distance between the cruises and the added cost of hotels, flights and other inconveniences. “

Shannon Lee, co-founder of Storylines, says MV Narrative’s journey “follows the sun,” ensuring that it orbits the world every three years with a stop for about three months (and an average of two to three days) in each geographic region. Each port of call).

Residents can fly in and out to meet the ship, spend as much time on the ship as they like, and guests can join them.

When it comes to destinations where her future floats home, Lankes says she doesn’t like it.

“I like the fact that wherever I go and I have community on board,” he says. “I felt like my accommodation would be like my bedroom and the whole ship is my home.”

Which makes the world behind her.

Top Image: Angelin and Richard Burke (Courtesy Angelin Burke)

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