Next time your parents go on a cruise, don't be surprised if they decide to stay on that ship forever. No longer just a fun vacation idea, cruise ships are increasingly becoming a viable residence option for retirees who prefer adventure at sea over retirement home living. Turns out, it's not always much more costly to live on a cruise ship than it is to stay in an assisted living facility — and you really can't beat the ever-changing views. Of course, there are many things to take into consideration with this idea, but here are a few upsides to cruising through your golden years.
Travel and New Experiences
Obviously, one key reason to spend retirement living full-time on a cruise ship is for the constantly changing scenery and the epic adventures in far-off lands. Traveling during retirement is a common goal, and living on a cruise ship affords retirees virtually endless opportunities for learning new things and having unusual experiences.
Food and Lodging
Say farewell to a big ol' house making constant demands on your time, energy, and wallet. Cruise life includes a private cabin of your own — complete with housekeeping — and an array of dining options. Plus, some cruise lines allow long-term guests to keep personal items and decor in their rooms, so it feels more like home.
Assistance and Amenities
For retirees who need little to no ongoing physical or medical assistance, residing on a cruise ship offers many perks that trump other living arrangements. When she was in her 80s, Bea Muller lived aboard the now-retired Queen Elizabeth 2 and she extolled the many virtues of cruise life: "I've got full-time maid service, great dining rooms, doctors, medical center" — where she volunteered — "a spa, beauty salon, computer center, entertainment, cultural activities and, best of all, dancing and bridge."
New People All the Time
Feelings of isolation and loneliness can find you anywhere, but when you live on a boat teeming with new people, at least there is always the possibility of interesting conversation, friendship, or even a romantic meet-cute. What's more, not everyone on board is of retirement age, meaning you'll experience a rich variety of perspectives from people of different ages and backgrounds.
Choosing a cruise ship over a retirement home won't necessarily save you money, though according to one 2004 study, living on a cruise ship only cost approximately $2,000 more annually than staying in an assisted living facility. Rising prices over the years, however, have led some people to debunk this theory, indicating that the financial strain of living on a cruise ship is greater than originally believed. Still, the trend towards spending retirement on the sea has clearly opened up a porthole of opportunity for cruise companies to directly target the retirement-age set. See, for example, Cruise Retirement and The World.
Many assisted living facilities and retirement homes have entertainment options for residents, but there probably isn't an improvised murder mystery and a Broadway revue and a magic show and a ballroom dance event all in one week. Bon voyage, indeed.