Can You Really Retire Onboard a Cruise Ship?


Some senior communities have been compared to cruise ships, with elegant décor and all the amenities you need within comfortable walking distance. However, some seniors with a well-planned out retirement fund are opting to take that concept literally and simply retire on a cruise ship.

Ocean-going vessels like the Utopia offer condo-style, year-round living, while Princess Cruise Lines offers rooms onboard at about the same price as a high-end Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). But is it worth it? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of living out your years at sea.

Cons of Retiring on a Cruise Ship

Less contact with grandchildren
If you have loved ones, especially grandchildren who tend to grow up faster than anyone would like to think, this could be a dealbreaker for many retirees deciding where to spend their golden years. However, if your relatives are close to a coastline where the ship docks frequently, say Florida or New York, the arrangement could work quite well.

No tax deduction for cruise ship living
Some CCRCs permit you to deduct a portion of your entry fees and monthly fees as a medical expense, even if you aren’t using the “care” portion of the retirement facility yet. If you sell your home to move onto a cruise ship, you won’t enjoy the benefits of interest deductions from your mortgage (if it’s not paid off) and you won’t garner additional tax deductions, either.

Cruise ships offer medical care, but not geriatric specialists
Life on a cruise ship doesn’t only mean leaving your loved ones, it also means leaving your doctors. If you rely on specialists for ongoing health care, you won’t receive that level of expertise on a cruise ship. Most seniors who live on cruise ships can do so only as long as they are healthy.

Assisted living services not available if needed
Just as you won’t get specialized medical care, you won’t get care for Activities of Daily Life (ADLs), either. While the myth circulated for several years as an urban legend, the idea of replacing your assisted living community or nursing home with a cruise ship isn’t really a viable option.

Activities may not be tailored toward seniors
It’s true that a significant percentage of cruise ship passengers may be seniors, that doesn’t mean the activities directors specialize in senior activities. Most of the activities will be designed for adults of all ages, but if you want fun, innovative activities targeted at yourself and others like you, a senior retirement community is more likely to offer what you want.

It may be expensive. – In addition to foregoing tax deductions you might get in a CCRC, a cruise ship may not be the thriftier choice. Luxury condos onboard the World, the first ship to offer year-round living, and Utopia start at $3.7 million.

Pros of Retiring on a Cruise Ship

Top-tier amenities, no matter which ship you choose
You don’t have to spend close to $4 million to get all-inclusive meals and entertainment of a very high quality.

No worries about transportation
Most retirement communities offer easy transportation into town for shopping and appointments, and most also offer day trips to the surrounding region. But it doesn’t get any easier than having everything you might need just a stroll away. Best of all, no food shopping.

Nearly limitless entertainment and activities
From shows to dancing, spa treatments to swimming, a cruise ship offers nearly endless activities. And that’s not even counting all the shore excursions.

Travel the world
If you want to travel the world, living onboard a cruise ship is a (relatively) affordable way to do it.

Hob-nobbing with people of all ages may help you stay young at heart
Living in a senior community has a number of benefits, including being surrounded by people your own age. But immersing yourself in a community of people of all ages, from toddlers and teens to adults and seniors like yourself may just keep you young at heart.

The Bottom Line
If you are in good health and don’t require any specialized care, living onboard a cruise ship could be one possible way to kick off your retirement. But you should be open to the possibility of relocating to a CCRC or assisted living community in the future if your circumstances change.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.