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How To Live On A Cruise Ship – Top Tips For Life At Sea

Most humans never experience what it’s like to live at sea, as 99% of us are land dwellers to the core. A few trendsetters have altered the reality of normal living by packing up their life on land and moving it to a cruise ship on the sea. Cruise ship living is a concept that’s picking up momentum. How to live on a cruise ship starts with proper financial planning, additional health insurance, and awesome deals from cruise liners. Keep reading to learn how your ocean-living dreams can become a reality.

How To Live On A Cruise Ship – Take A Cruise Ship Test Run

Permanently living on a cruise ship might sound glamorous and exciting. And it could be the best decision you’ve ever made but also the wrong one. You should take a trial run at extended cruise ship living before making a decision so that you can confirm if your “living on a cruise ship” dream is for you.

Book long trips (more than 3 months at a time) on different cruise liners, mix them up with different cruise itineraries and immerse yourself in life at sea. 

How To Live On A Cruise Ship

Rope In The Help Of A Cruise Specialist

When you have decided that you want to spend large amounts of a year cruising the world, it’s time to rope in the experts. A cruise specialist can add some value to your experience regarding the following: 

  • One-on-one personal customer service
  • Assisting in finding the right accommodation
  • Helping to choose the perfect cruise ship
  • Access to discounted bookings regarding extended cruise travel
  • Added amenities such as onboard credit, free specialty dinners and drinks vouchers, airport transfers, and complimentary shore excursions
  • Ensuring that special promotions during your trip are applied to your fare

Cruise companies such as The Cruise Web offer innovative packaged plans (Seniors at Sea) tailor-made for active and independent seniors looking to retire on a cruise ship. After a cruise specialist has assisted you in finding the best cruise liner option with the best price package available, it’s time to draw up your budget with the help of a financial planner.

Brainstorm With A Financial Planner

You will need to get your financial ducks in a row. Brainstorm with a financial planner about what you can afford to spend per day, week, or month, and see how those numbers fit with your cruise specialist’s quotes. If you’re looking to retire on a cruise ship, a full retirement income plan that includes taxes should be implemented.

Cost Of Permanently Living On A Cruise Ship

The most important factor when living on a cruise ship is the cost. The overall cost of living on a cruise ship is determined by many factors, such as the following:

  • The cruises you book (Caribbean cruises work out the cheapest, whereas European and Alaskan cruises are the most expensive)
  • Which cruise ship line do you choose to live on (Mass, premium, or luxury lines)
  • Type of accommodation (Inside cabins are cheap but small, whereas balcony rooms are expensive but come with a view)
  • Cruise Line loyalty program and perks
  • Taxes, port fees, and gratuities (inescapable expenses)
  • Cost of shore excursions
  • Wi-Fi

The average person spends approximately $212 per day on a cruise ship, which includes boarding, food, and entertainment. Your available daily budget should be close to this amount if you want to live successfully on a cruise ship. 

Purchase A Permanent Residence On A Cruise Ship

One method of living on a cruise ship is to book multiple cruises on one specific ship or move from ship to ship within a cruise line, using different itineraries. For example, there’s a Royal Caribbean Super Cruiser who has essentially sailed for the past 20 years on various Royal Caribbean ships and spends only about two weeks a year on land!

If your finances allow it, another option is to buy property on a residential ship or an available cabin on a cruise ship.


Storylines is a private residential ship selling 547 at-sea residences (1-bedroom to 4-bedroom residences, 2-story penthouses, and studios) ranging from $400,000 to $8 million, which excludes yearly maintenance fees. Living fees start at $2,152 per month, depending on the residential unit, which is lower than what you would pay in most major cities and comes with a host of all-inclusive living perks. 

The World

The world is a residential cruise ship that offers 165 private residencies with prices ranging from $2 million to $16 million, excluding annual ship fees. This luxurious residential cruise ship offers residents culinary delights prepared by Michelin-star chefs, an enrichment program featuring world-renowned experts, a spa and gym facility, and a host of sporting activities.


Utopia is a luxury cruise ship that sells permanent residencies totaling 190 units, which range from 1,400 to 6,500 square feet. The prices range from $4 million to $36 million per unit. Luxury retail shops, spas and salons, and all sorts of luxury amenities are expected on board.

Work While Cruising

Today, many people have the opportunity to work remotely from their homes. Technology has changed how we work in the last couple of decades. With access to WI-FI aboard cruise ships, nothing stops you from working online, making cruise ship living a reality for most digital nomads.

One of Royal Caribbean International’s most famous long-term cruisers, Mario Salcedo, works from the top deck of all the ships he sails on. Nicknamed “Super Mario,” Salcedo has been living on various Royal Caribbean International cruise ships for over 20 years. 

Mario budgets between $60,000 to $70,000 per year to maintain his life at sea. Booking consecutive yearly tours in advance, staying in cheaper indoor cabins, and not leaving the ship when stopping at a port help him to stay within this budget. Salcedo manages investments for his private clients to fund his stay.

Protect Yourself With Private Health Insurance

Medical facilities found on most cruise ships feature basic medical equipment used for treating basic medical emergencies in the short term, such as defibrillators, x-ray machines, and all sorts of medicine. A medical team consisting of at least one doctor and two nurses is on call 24/7. However, they typically are not set up to provide chronic medical care.

If you’re on chronic medication, you will need to get the prescriptions filled by your doctor before you board the ship. Suppose you have serious health ailments that often require a trip to the hospital for check-ups and treatment. It would be best if you run the scenario of permanently living on a cruise ship by your regular physician.

Full-service hospitals are found at ports only, which can be few and far between when cruising. Retirees using Medicare health insurance are often not adequately covered in a medical emergency and unforeseen medical expenses. Typically, Medicare’s coverage dwindles when members are out at sea or more than 6-hours from the US. 

The smartest option, even if it’s more expensive than standard US insurance plans, is to invest in private health insurance, which includes evacuation insurance. Most cruise line offer insurance that is inclusive of medical coverage. You may also have options through a variety of private insurance carriers.

If you’re paying with a credit card, remember to call your credit card company to inquire about the travel insurance they offer and what it covers in a scenario where you live on a cruise ship. Ask your travel specialist for recommendations and put the question to your financial planner.

Pros And Cons Of Living On A Cruise Ship

All life decisions come with pros and cons. Living on a cruise ship has both, and we need to highlight a few of them before you sell your land home, say emotional goodbyes to the family, and put the pets up for adoption. 

Pros Of Living On A Cruise Ship

Traveling the world

Can be cost-effective compared to other retirement options 

Exciting shore excursions

No utility, gas, or grocery bills

No monthly home or car payments

Constant menu of activities and entertainment steps away

Opportunity to meet new people

Attentive staff available to serve you daily 

Renting out your property to receive passive income

Cons Of Living On A Cruise Ship

Leaving friends & family behind

Additional private health insurance required (including evacuation insurance) or cruise liner insurance that includes emergency medical coverage  

Gaps between cruises lead to additional costs (hotel, flights, transfers)

Cruise liners not equipped for assisted living (you need to be heal

Have to monitor your diet as food on cruise ships often include fine dining and rich foods

Potential loneliness

You will have to store or sell extra possessions 

Shore excursions can be costly

Closing Thoughts

How to live on a cruise ship may seem like a fantasy, but with a little planning, insurance, and guidance from a financial planner and cruise specialist, you can make it your reality!

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