The Emerging Trend of Cruise Ship Retirement

Recently, an alternative retirement plan has been gaining traction among people of a certain background. Retiring on a cruise ship might seem like a far-fetched proposition. Still, it is actually a more plausible scenario than one might think. 

For nearly 20 years, Jeff Farschman, 73, has spent 7-8 months annually aboard the Holland America Line cruise ship. The retired Vice President at Lockheed Martin first tasted the experience when he was stranded on a Caribbean Cruise during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. 

“I just kept on extending and extending my time on board because the hurricane ruined my original winter plans,” he explained. He booked six back-to-back cruises on the liner, spending 47 days at sea. Since then, the longest time Farschman spent on shore was during the pandemic, and he immediately set sail again once health restrictions were lifted. 

While not yet retired, CEO Tony de Leede, 69, also finds cruise ship living increasingly appealing. He first purchased a cabin aboard the private 165-residence cruise ship The World in 2002. In total, De Leede spends 3-5 months in a year at sea, where he’s able to “combine a nice environment with working from and then going to sleep in Venice and waking up in Croatia.” 

Recently, De Leede bought a two-bedroom cabin aboard Storylines’ MV Narrative, a luxurious residential ship set to launch in 2024. With 547 rooms ranging from one-bedroom cabins to spacious condominiums, MV Narrative is poised to become one of the world’s largest residential ships. Some of the facilities offered include 20 dining options, a 24-hour fitness center, a microbrewery, and for the first time ever, pets being allowed on board – the latter being the game-changer for De Leede. 

Why Choose Cruise Ship Living

Farschman and De Leede are among a growing number of senior citizens preferring cruise ships to spend all, if not the majority, of their year. This alternative way of life can be appealing for several reasons: 

Cost of Living

With the rising cost of real estate, booking year-round cruise trips might be comparable to paying mortgages or staying in assisted living.


For retirees or older people, staying at a cruise liner where meals, housekeeping, and entertainment are all-inclusive removes the hassle of doing chores that comes with home ownership. Semi-retired travel agent Janice Yetke, 78, is drawn to this lifestyle for this reason. “The staff feeds you, provides entertainment, and cleans your room twice daily. It all meets our needs at this stage in life,” she said. 

Year-round travel

Like De Leede, the prospect of seeing the world while working can be appealing to some. Setting a budget for travel can be a huge financial burden to many. Living aboard a cruise ship allows one to visit the world's far reaches on their living expenses. 

Just like land real estate, there are several ways to retire on a cruise ship, depending on the cost and level of comfort. 

The first option is to book back-to-back cruises. This is the cheapest option available. For example, a seven-night Caribbean cruise on Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, Carnival Celebration, starts from $118 per person per night. 52 weeks of back-to-back reservations would amount to $43,000 per person. Something to consider, even when the same cruise package is booked, one might need to relocate to different ships once in a while and spend more on things like transport and luggage. Additional costs like tips, flights, land accommodations in case of emergency, and other ancillary expenses could add up to $50,000 a year. That’s less than the cost of standard assisted living in America, which stands at $60,000 (price may vary). 

The other option is renting or purchasing a cabin at a residential ship. This is considerably more costly than booking back-to-back trips. The world is the most prominent luxury residence liner company, having drawn high-profile clients like Farschman since the 2000s. But emerging companies such as Storylines look to enter the market in a big way with their MV Narrative, coming soon in 2024. It boasts luxury residential spaces of up to 4 bedrooms with full amenities and environmentally friendly sustainable energy. As a bonus, residents can collect rent on their units while away. For all those conveniences, interested buyers need to shell out $1 million on average for a 237-square-foot inside cabin with a virtual window for the ship's life. A lease option is also available: a twenty-four-year lease costs $650K. This excludes all-inclusive onboard services like food, housekeeping, Wi-Fi, etc. 

Evaluating Retirement Protocols

With so many cruise ship retirement options available, there are several things to first consider:


Cruise ship paramedics might not be adequate for those requiring medical care, especially when it comes to more serious conditions. Should medical assistance be needed while the cost and policy might differ in another country? Furthermore, not all insurance plans are applicable while abroad. 

The enclosed space

On the lower end of things, living inside a tiny cubicle for weeks and months might get really claustrophobic. Living at sea also means no contact with natural environments and the monotony of inhabiting the same space for a long time. 

Connections with family and friends

Living for an extended period at sea means getting close to loved ones is difficult. A visiting family would have to shell out thousands of dollars for a trip while attending a wedding or funeral might cost a fortune if the ship happens to be somewhere far away.

The Health Risk

If The Diamond Princess taught us anything, it is that cruise ships are a petri dish for infectious diseases. Those with health conditions need to take careful consideration of this. 

Is Maritime Life Right for You?

Exploring the idea of retiring at sea has its advantages and disadvantages. Each decision deserves careful consideration. The choice to embark on this maritime retirement journey hinges on individual circumstances, desires, and priorities. The allure of retiring at sea lies in the promise of adventure, freedom, and a lifestyle unlike any other, and it remains an enticing prospect for those ready to set sail into their golden years.

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She started her blog, The Money Dreamer, when she realized the 9-5 job was not the lifestyle she wanted anymore. After designing for a while, she wanted a more meaningful life, which was freedom, so she decided to venture out. She took action so that she can live her dream life and decided to help people to live theirs by helping them how to save, budget, and invest.

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