Retire On A Cruise Ship? Some People Do, But It’s Not For Everyone

Posted by Richard on December 4, 2019

Here’s an idea that started in 2005 as an internet meme protesting the high cost of assisted living facilities: Retire at a hotel (or on a cruise ship) instead!

At least two retirees have actually done it. In 2001, at age 86, Bea Muller, resided on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. Cunard also had a 14-year guest with Clair MacBeth sailing back-to-back cruises.

According to, one geriatrician at Northwestern University concluded that the net cost of cruise ship living over 20 years was only about $2,000 more than the alternatives and offered a higher quality of service.

Although costs can vary widely, a Genworth Cost of Care survey highlights an average price of $3,750 per month for assisted living facilities in 2017 which is about $125 per day. Compared to cruise line packages that can land at 100 dollars per day or less, there is a real possibility that the math could work out for retirement on the high seas. It might not make sense year-round, but extended voyages could be competitive in cost so long as the cruiser didn’t also have to support a home on land.

Amenities-wise, cruise ships offer many of the same essentials as an assisted living facility. Often, meal plans are either included or optional and provide around-the-clock access to food and drinks. Daily housekeeping services allow seniors to skip the cleaning and upkeep of their room and focus on their experience. Entertainment opportunities abound as well, usually including social activities, live shows, and games. For medical emergencies, most cruise lines are well equipped to deal with typical issues and have access to pharmacy services as well.

The downsides are obvious, though. Among them, no visits with family and friends. Plus, it is unlikely that a cruiser can create and maintain deep friendships on a ship where the residents are constantly changing. It’s quite probable that a long-term cruiser would be lonely in a crowd.
What’s more, if you sold everything to finance your cruise, where would you go when you run out of money?

It wouldn’t be for everyone. While ships have doctors and medical facilities, a retiree would have to be in good mental and physical health to pull it off.