One might think that living and working on a Cruise Ship would be a nice dream, but unaffordable. The truth is altogether surprising. In some cases, it can be a realistic option.

New York Times: Calling a Cruise Ship Home: See the World, Then See It Again

A 2004 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concluded that 20 years in a retirement home for someone entering at age 65 would cost an average of $228,075, as opposed to $230,497 for the same amount of time aboard a cruise ship.

Though it has been debated, some claim that, in some special cases, it can be cheaper to retire on a cruise line than in an assisted living home.

Motley Fool: Is Cruise Ship Living a Cheaper Option for Seniors Than Assisted Living?

[A]ssisted living isn’t the only option for seniors who find living alone too burdensome. There’s an alternative that could be less expensive while providing some of the same perks and benefits: life on the high seas.

That’s right– living on a cruise ship could be a lower-cost way for seniors to take advantage of similar amenities to those provided by assisted living facilities, like all-you-can eat meals, a swimming pool for low-impact exercise, regular companionship and entertainment, and even access to on-board doctors.

Of course, that is for seniors who do not have severe or chronic health issues, but are in manageably decent good health.

Those figures are up to debate, as this Snopes article examines: (Click Here).

Now, to be sure there are many conditions that have to be taken into account.

  1. One’s health: One has to have reasonably decent health. A cruise ship would not be the best place to be if one has severe or chronic medical issues. While cruise ships do have medical staff, and dispensing of medications is not a problem, they would not be wanting to see you on a regular basis for medical crises.
    Also remember to have adequate health insurance and factor in the costs.
  2. One’s Finances: If one will not be working on the ship, then one has to have a considerable nest egg to afford such a lifestyle.
  3. Self Employment: In today’s era of the internet, some independent jobs can be done from a cruise ship. If you write for a living, if you are an accountant, if you are a lawyer, if you have a position in finance or stocks, these can often be handled from a cruise ship. You can email or fax in your work from on board.
    What should be clear is that such positions are of an intellectual nature. If one is a garage mechanic or a janitor, working independently on cruise ship will not be possible.
  4. Boredom: While it may sound wonderful at first, one can feel confined on a cruise ship. One has to assess if living with such restrictions is agreeable. There would be no midnight drive to a 7-11 for a Slurpee, not slow walk through a grocery store. No weekend stroll in a local park. For the freedom of the high seas, one gives up a lot of prerogatives available to landlubbers
  5. Friends: One will not have steady friends on board a cruise ship, except for the ship employees. Most of the people you meet will be transients.
  6. Passports: If one will be living on an international cruise ship, then one has to keep their passports up-to-date.
  7. Residence: One will have to keep an official residence back on the land, whether at your home, a small apartment, or listed at the residence of a friend or relative. Such official residence will be necessary, in order to maintain a driver’s license, should one want to rent a vehicle when going ashore.
  8. Taxes: One cannot get out of taxes that easy. You will still be liable to pay taxes to your official residence.

So what does one have to plan for:

– Internet: Whether you will be working on board, or just relaxing, access to the internet is vital, today. You are going to have to figure how much internet you will need, and what plan you should purchase from the cruise line. Remember, on the high seas, internet access is still not cheap. Though long term cruisers can negotiate a special deal.

Cruise Critic: Internet at Sea: 7 Things You Need to Know

On many ships, payment is per megabyte instead of by minute. On Disney Cruise Line ships, one MB costs 35 cents. As with per-minute pricing, buying megabytes via a package brings the price down. Pricing by the megabyte is also offered on Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean ships. As a rough guide, with 10 MBs you can spend 30 minutes on Facebook, Skype for four minutes or upload three photographs.

Though there are ways around this, it may affect your decision.

If you are a writer, typing away on that Great American Novel, one need not worry. Document files are usually not that large, unless they contain photos. But if you are a stock analyst, then your bandwidth will high.

One could wait until one goes ashore to get better bandwidth, but again that may limit your business.

If you are a digital nomad – one who lives by working on the internet, while moving around – then the price of internet access has to be factored in. Even worse, internet access on board a cruise ship can be spotty and unreliable, even though they have satellite uplinks.

Happily, there are some cruise lines with internet packages that are rather good, if a bit pricier.

Cruise Critic: Voom Internet on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Yes. Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet works as advertised. It is fast and reliable, and rivals speeds on land.

The “Voom Surf and Stream” package is available for $17.99 per day, per device, and includes the ability to stream your favorite shows, movies and music at sea. “Voom Surf and Stream” also offers discounts for multiple devices, with a family rate starting from $11.99 per device, per day.

$17.99 a day works out to roughly $540 a month. So it can be done; but it won’t be cheap on board.

There are many options to consider, whether you are a senior or a younger person living as a digital nomad.

– Special Packages have to be arranged: If one likes soda, then one should make sure that soda pop is included in their food package (Often it is not). Failure to do so can lead to a whopping surprise bill. However, if you are going to be living long term on a boat, companies will make special deals.

– Living quarters: If one is going to live long term on a boat, then companies will award special bonuses and discounts to passengers for their loyalty.

Cheat Sheet: The Shocking Reasons Why Retirees Choose to Live on Cruise Ships

According to cruise travel agency owner Jo Kling, long-term cruise guests may have a bit of negotiating power with cruise lines. Extra perks could include things like bringing your own furniture and decorating your cabin to match your personal taste. That’s just the kind of thing it takes to make your cruise feel like home.

Loyalty rewards members can also get bonuses like free Wi-Fi and reward points that can be used toward pricey expenditures on the ship.

If it is your cup of tea, living and/or working on a cruise ship can be a viable alternative lifestyle.

Just remember, that after you are on board for a long time, you may lose your land legs.


Cheat Sheet: The Shocking Reasons Why Retirees Choose to Live on Cruise Ships

Cruise Critic: Internet at Sea: 7 Things You Need to Know

Cruise Critic: Voom Internet on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Motley Fool:
Is Cruise Ship Living a Cheaper Option for Seniors Than Assisted Living?

Snopes: Retirement Living on Cruise Ships

The New York Times: Calling a Cruise Ship Home: See the World, Then See It Again