Caribbean Beach with Cruise Ships

Can you Retire on a Cruise?

Can you retire on a cruise? The thought might have crossed your mind. It makes sense because after all, isn’t living on a cruise similar to living in a senior home? Below we will compare what it’s like to retire on a cruise versus a senior home. 

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Pros of Retiring on a Cruise

You Get to Travel

One of the best things about retiring on a cruise is that you get to travel. You get to see the world and go from port to port which is better than staying put at home or in a retirement home.


Retiring on a cruise ship has its perks, one of which is the convenience of having all your meals included. You don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or meal planning like you would at a retirement home. 

At some retirement homes, food might not even be included or only breakfast and dinner are, leaving you to prepare your lunch. A cruise ship is definitely the way to go for a hassle-free experience.

The quality of food also differs between a retirement home and a cruise ship. On a cruise, you’re spoiled for choice with a diverse range of cuisines such as Asian, Indian and Italian. Whether you’re feeling like a sit-down meal at the Main Dining Room or a quick bite at the buffet or poolside grill, there’s bound to be something to satisfy your craving. 

Retirement homes, on the other hand, typically serve cafeteria-level food that cannot compare to the fancier options on a cruise ship. You won’t find shrimp cocktails or Baked Alaska on the menu at a retirement home!

Retire on a Cruise


There’s no denying that a cruise ship is a hub of entertainment. There’s an endless list of activities to do, from Bingo, Art Auctions, Learn to Dance, Trivia, to Karaoke.

While if you compare that with the activities at a senior home, they are not on the same level as those on a cruise ship. You might only come across a few activities a day, such as Bingo, arts and crafts, and free transportation to the local Walmart. 

The difference between the caliber of activities on a cruise ship versus a senior home is like night and day.

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Level of Service

On a cruise ship, you can expect a higher level of service compared to a retirement home. For one thing, you get daily housekeeping service, which may not always be the case in a retirement home. 

Additionally, mealtimes on a cruise ship are a fancier affair. You get to enjoy a sit-down meal that includes all the works – a white tablecloth, a dedicated server with an assistant, a sommelier, and the maitre’d. In contrast, meals in a retirement home are not as fancy.

The Shows

One nice thing about cruising is that you get to watch Broadway shows or at least Broadway-quality musicals. It’s amazing the type of shows and the caliber of performances on the ship. 

For example, some Royal Caribbean cruise ships even have Aqua Theaters where you will watch Cirque de Soleil-type shows with high divers, synchronized swimmers and acrobats! 

And if you ever feel like breaking the monotony of watching the same shows every week, you can always hit up the lobby or piano bar for some live music. 

While in your retirement home, you have to make do with watching TV. If you’re lucky, your retirement home may organize an occasional field trip to watch a show at a local theater.  

Retire on a Cruise

Meet New People

One good thing about cruising is that you get to meet new people every week! If you’re going on back-to-back cruises, a new set of cruise passengers will join you every week. It makes cruising interesting while if you’re in a retirement home, you’re seeing the same people every day, again and again.

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Cons of Retiring on a Cruise Ship

You’ll Be Far from Family

The one main disadvantage of retiring on a cruise ship is that you won’t get to see family and your grandkids very often. They will either have to come to join you on your cruise ship or you have to get off the ship and go visit them. 

While if you’re living in a retirement home, it’s easier for your family and you will get to spend more time with your grandkids.

Health Care

A major hesitation that I have for retiring on a cruise ship is the lack of medical facilities on board. If there is a medical emergency, the ship may not have the personnel or equipment necessary to handle it. 

Even for routine checkups, you will need to leave the ship to see your doctor for a checkup. This means you won’t have access to prescription medication on the ship either. 

If you have a serious medical issue, the cruise ship may ask you to disembark, leaving you stranded without a place to stay. It can be quite unsettling to be uprooted like that.

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Health Insurance

When you retire on a cruise, you will have to pay for international health insurance. This is because Medicare does not cover you when you’re outside the country. 

You also need to make sure that your insurance policy includes emergency evacuation coverage since this can be exorbitantly expensive. It can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 to be transported to a US facility in an emergency situation!


Most cruise ships don’t allow pets onboard. If you have a cat or dog, you can’t bring it with you on the ship. You will have to make do living without your furry friend.

Small Cabin

Living on a cruise ship may seem appealing at first, but as time goes by, the small cabins with limited storage space might start to feel cramped. Even if you choose a balcony room or a suite, you’ll eventually find yourself wishing for more space. 

You might start yearning for a larger bathroom with a tub, a more spacious balcony, and additional storage space, not to mention a more sizable cabin overall. The novelty of retiring on a cruise ship is bound to wear off, leaving you longing for the comforts of a larger living space.


Retiring on a cruise ship may sound like a dream come true, but it does come with its own set of challenges. One of the downsides is the possibility of seasickness. 

Even if you’re not usually affected by it, choppy waters could trigger nausea. Even if you select a cruise itinerary that avoids rough seas, you never know when a storm could unexpectedly hit.

Not Connected

One of the drawbacks of living on a cruise ship is the limited connectivity. You might not always have reliable wifi on board, and phone calls can cost a lot. You also have fewer options for entertainment, such as TV shows and channels. Even streaming Netflix can be tricky, because of the slow speed or the data limit. It’s not easy to stay in touch with the world when you’re cruising.

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How Much Does it Cost to Retire on a Cruise?

Let’s compare how much it costs to go on a cruise versus living in a senior home. For example, if you go on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas and do back-to-back cruises from the Mediterranean to Transatlantic to the Caribbean, you are looking at approximately $195 per person per day for an inside stateroom with a view of the promenade. That comes out to just under $6000 a month. This will be less if you choose an older ship. 

Compare that to living in a senior home where the median cost of senior independent living is approximately $3000. But it can be a lot more expensive than that. I know where I am in Connecticut, for example, I’m looking at closer to $7000 a month!

It really depends on where you live and the type of cruise you find. Don’t forget to add extra health insurance to your total plus other expenses like shore excursion, airfare and hotel. Living on a cruise is going to come out more expensive than living in a senior home. 

Is retiring on a cruise doable? Yes, for sure it’s doable. I think it could be a lot of fun. But it’s definitely not a long term retirement solution due to the lack of medical staff and facilities onboard the ship.

I do suggest giving it a try by doing a few back to back cruises for a month. Be on the lookout for Cruise Deals– you never know what you find.  

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Free Cruise Toiletry Bag and First Aid Kit Packing List

Get Your Free Cruise Toiletry Bag & First Aid Kit Packing List

Sign up once and you will get access to ALL exclusive content on this website. After unlocking the printable, just save the printable image and then print it. Use it as a checklist to pack your cruise toiletry bag and first aid kit so you don’t forget anything! I hope you like it!

Cruise Toiletry Bag and First Aid Kit Packing List

Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables

Alaska cruise packing list

Caribbean cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

Mexico cruise packing list

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