Recently I read these numbers in an article in “The Week” magazine: CNBC reports that a day on Princess Cruises costs about $135. A day in a private room of a nursing home costs $253. When you compare the monthly costs, Princess Cruises adds up to about $4,200, and the private room at the nursing home is nearly $8,000. According to Genworth Financial, the national monthly median cost of an assisted living apartment is $3,628, or $119 per day, just a bit less than the cruise ship.


Wow,I thought, luxury rather than lethargy for a retirement residence!

There are loads of variables, of course, but I love thinking about a cruise ship as a retirement option.

Although a cruise ship carries 3000 or more passengers, I confess that retirement to a cruise ship appeals to the “social hermit” in me. I want to live in seclusion while still being able to interact with helpful and interesting people whenever I choose to open my door to them. Staff and other residents on a ship do not intrude uninvited, as they tend to in assisted living. Plus, cruise ships have a higher ratio of employees to passengers than assisted living facilities.

What’s not to like about the idea of sitting out on my stateroom balcony, writing and reading to my heart’s content, watching the ocean from which we evolved? Or maybe just napping in that deck chair? And visiting foreign ports for new experiences, encounters, and writing-topics without having to schlep luggage. And having meals waiting for me and/or room service (whenever I choose) would be a great perk. Laundry service is available for a fee, as it is in assisted living.

How about medical care? I found this info from the British Medical Journal: Cruise ships have superior health facilities—one or more doctors, nurses available 24 hours a day, defibrillators, equipment for dealing with medical emergencies, and the ability to give intravenous fluids and antibiotics . . . Assisted living facilities almost never have doctors on site and seldom have nurses available 24 hours.

The authors of the BMJ article calculate that the long term cost for a person to live on a cruise ship from the age of 80 until his or her death would be $230,497 compared with $228,075 for an assisted living facility.

And what if several friends-of-the-heart all “retired” to the same cruise ship together . . .?? That would be far less hassle than creating a co-housing community (several of us have already tried that option).

One of my friends says she’d “rather stay on terra firma, thank you.”

Another friend wonders about “burial at sea.” That’s an option for someone connected with naval military service (with lots of permits and hoops to jump through), but not from a cruise ship. Cremains might be scattered from a cruise ship, but they don’t have crematoriums on board.

There is one enterprise, Storylines Cruise Line, that is creating floating condominiums for passengers to purchase and own that become part of their estate, to be sold or bequeathed as you choose. The first of this company’s residential ships, The MV Narrative, is to set sail in mid-2020, with condos starting at $155,000.

To me, the most important thing about considering a residential cruising retirement is that it has gotten me out of the box of thinking that a regular assisted living residence or a nursing home are the only options available for when I need more assistance than I can affordin my own home. This possibility can encourage my friends and me to broaden our ideas and think more creatively in our conversations about our futures. Perhaps we can find situations that we could welcome instead of dread. If nothing else, it’s fun to brainstorm, as wildly as possible, because – who knows? – we might just dream up something great for ourselves!  Bon voyage.