Living The Dream: Retiring On A Cruise Ship

Every cruiser knows that disembarkation day is the most challenging part of any cruise vacation. After days of indulging in amazing cuisine, world-class entertainment, and serene pools, leaving the ship can easily lead to the “cruise blues.” What if you didn’t have to get off the ship and could live there permanently or long-term? Well, some cruise enthusiasts have discovered a way to retire on cruise ships, and it’s not as costly as you may think! With the rising costs of retirement homes and communities, retiring on a cruise ship has become less of a fantasy and a more attainable goal. If you’re interested in learning how to retire on a cruise ship, keep reading! 


One of the biggest advantages of retiring on a cruise ship is the opportunity to travel. Instead of being confined to one location, retirees have the rare option of exploring a new destination every few days. This is especially true for month-long or world cruises because cruisers visit many more ports than a shorter itinerary. Another benefit of living on a ship is the necessity of downsizing. With no ties to hold you down, you can easily move around to different locations for any period of time. An additional advantage is having all your meals prepared and served at your convenience. Forget the days of grocery shopping and meal planning; when you retire on a cruise ship, leave all the work to the chefs. Guests will never tire of the culinary options on cruise ships, as there are endless choices! Lastly, retirees can also relish the daily cabin cleaning and the overall cleanliness maintained on most cruise ships. Although many cruise lines charge additional fees for laundry services, sheets and towels will be replenished at guests’ convenience.

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One of the greatest disadvantages of retiring on a cruise ship is the challenge of seeing friends and family at a moment’s notice. Undeniably, being on a cruise ship for months or years limits the freedom to choose destinations and social interactions. Another drawback is maintaining your goal weight amidst unlimited food and drink. However, this can be mitigated by adhering to a gym routine at the onboard facilities and watching portions and food choices. Lastly, for individuals aged 65 or older, Medicare coverage can be limited outside of the country. Cruise ships typically prioritize emergency care, with limited access to many specialized checkups or procedures. Those in good health may consider purchasing a private healthcare plan for extended travel. 


According to, the average daily cost aboard a cruise ship ranges from $150 to $250. reports that, on average, in 2023, a semi-private room in a nursing home can cost around $260 to $290 a day, depending on the facility and the state. With that in mind, if someone is considering full-time living on a cruise ship, they should research the average costs in their home states for reference. Retirees should also consider the services included in the cruise fare, as listed above. While cruise fares can be more affordable than many mortgages, especially if a retired person owns their home, a helpful suggestion may be to consider renting out their home while they spend their time aboard a cruise ship. Renting out your home can easily help cover expenses while at sea. 

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Cruise Line Suggestions 

Holland America Line is one of the more popular lines for seniors seeking long-term itineraries. Offering itineraries ranging from 20-day trips to 133-day sailings and everything in between, guests have a variety of choices when considering extended voyages departing from the United States. In 2020, Holland America Line won the Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards for the best cruise itinerary. Their impressive offerings include stunning sailings such as the Grand Africa Voyage, Grand Australia & New Zealand Voyage, Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage, and much more. 

For retirees in search of a more permanent option, The World stands out as a residential cruise ship where guests can purchase studios or 1-2 bedroom apartments. This vessel also provides a comprehensive range of services one would expect on any other cruise line, including housekeeping, wellness programs, dining experiences, concierge services, and more. With 165 other apartments, The World offers its residents an intimate experience that allows them to explore the world without leaving the comfort of their own homes. 

Finally, for those seeking a luxury living option, Storylines’ MV Narrative is a larger ship featuring 547 fully furnished apartments ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms. Retirees can purchase an apartment for approximately $1-8 million, or alternatively, they have the option to rent an apartment aboard the vessel for around $400,000. The MV Narrative even has its private marina at the ship’s aft, so residents can sail, jetski, kayak, or swim in the sea. 

Photo by Jamie Morrison on Unsplash

Retiring on a cruise ship may seem like an unattainable dream for many retirees. However, after reading this article, hopefully, you’ve gained some insight into how this dream can become your reality. Whether it’s booking months-long itineraries, embarking on sailings that span over a hundred days, or even considering the purchase of an apartment aboard a residential ship, retiring on a cruise ship can be achieved. This retirement plan can be made possible with some research, downsizing, and a dash of creativity. Have you considered retiring aboard a cruise ship? Let us know in the comments below! 

By Danielle Morris