Profitable and exciting: stories of Americans who moved to cruise ships
Many dream of taking a break from worries and going on an unforgettable cruise. But there are people who decide to spend their entire lives on a cruise ship. They told the publication CNNwhy they decided to do it and why they love sea travel.
Angeline Burke has been in love with cruising ever since she first boarded a ship in 1992 and set sail for the Caribbean.
Now that the 53-year-old woman has retired, she and her husband Richard plan to retire into the sunset forever, spending their remaining years aboard a cruise ship.
The Burke couple lived in the Seattle (Washington) area, since May 2021 it does not depend on the location. The couple calculated how much they can afford to spend on everyday life in their retirement years.
Angeline says the amount is about $100 per day so that the two of them can cover their living expenses.
“This year we provided 86 cruise days at an average combined cost of $89 per day for both of us,” she said. And that includes accommodation, food, entertainment, transportation, tips, port fees and taxes.
“It fits well into our retirement budget,” the woman explained. In addition, frequent cruises have resulted in the couple receiving large discounts on future travels through loyalty programs.
Most of the 86 days booked this year are in Holland, America, of which about a week on the Carnival ship. And among the many destinations the couple will visit are Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Alaska, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
“When planning cruises, I try to stay on the same ship for as long as possible, if it's profitable,” explains Angelin. The couple plan to spend most of their retirement years living on cruise ships rather than on land.
As for the benefits of moving aboard a houseboat after retirement, she says they are obvious: "Where else can you go to different countries, relax by the pool and sleep in a comfortable bed."
Attractive Retirement Plan, or Work From Anywhere Scheme
The decision to retire or work aboard a cruise ship is generally rare, but not new.
Before the pandemic interrupted some long-term cruise ships, Crystal Cruises (which filed for bankruptcy in early 2022) and Royal Caribbean International had at least two passengers who lived aboard their ships for years and became celebrities in cruise circles.
One of them, Mario Salcedo, is still working during the cruise. Salcedo, nicknamed Super Mario, has been living on Royal Caribbean cruise ships for more than two decades.
“All of our guests have a sense of home, especially those who spend most of the year sailing on our ships,” said Mark Tamis, Senior Vice President of Hospitality Operations at Royal Caribbean International. “For example, one of my favorite guests, Super Mario, has an “office” on the top deck of every ship he sails on and a VOOM internet streaming service so he can work from anywhere in the world.”
Another notable passenger is "mother" Lee Wachtstetter. She spent many of her years aboard cruise ships and wrote a memoir, I May Be Homeless, But You Must See My Yacht. They detail some of her cruising shenanigans, including a huge wave in the Mediterranean and the time she was kidnapped by a tuk-tuk driver in Thailand.
In March 2017, while on a cruise, the website Cruise Critic asked the question, "Would you retire at sea?" In a survey on his website, 59% of respondents said they would like to retire at sea, or at least be on a cruise for a couple of years.
"It's definitely inspiring," says Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic. “We hear from our passengers all the time that when they retire, living aboard a ship is what they are interested in.”
McDaniel notes the convenience of the cruise: "It's an opportunity to see the world from home with great service and so much to enjoy." This is one of its main attractions for people considering cruise retirement.
Having a built-in community attracts people who want to move to cruise ships in the long term. According to McDaniel, crew members can become family for many passengers.
Potential economic benefit
The affordability of cruising compared to retired life on land is another argument in favor of cruising.
“Help with accommodation is not a cheap offer. It costs thousands and thousands of dollars a month, depending on where you're staying,” McDaniel explains. “Therefore, cruises are potentially a much more economical way to retire.”
Malcolm Myers, 88, who once spent 10 straight months aboard the Seven Seas Voyager, the ship of the Seven Seas Regent, observes that although cruises are not cheap, the average cost is comparable to what he pays at his high-end seniors housing complex in Stuart. (Florida).
“If I have to move to a nursing facility (with more comprehensive care), the cost of living on a ship will definitely be lower,” Myers said. “In addition, I have a variety of entertainment, lectures, restaurants and medical care at my disposal at no additional cost.”
Cruise Critic's McDaniel points out that although there is a medical facility on board cruise ships, it's not the same as being under constant medical supervision.
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“They can handle a limited number of problems on board,” she says, so it’s important to have evacuation insurance and ground medical options if you need medical attention while on a cruise.
Interest in world travel is on the rise
According to McDaniel, the round-the-world cruises and shorter trips (typically 30 to 40 days) offered by many companies are a way to try out longer-term cruises to better understand if retiring on a cruise ship is something that can help you. please.
Bookings for cruises around the world are skyrocketing, says Ralph Bias, president of Miami Beach-based Amazing Cruises, a cruise booking agency whose revenue and bookings doubled from 2020 to 2021 and almost tripled in 2022.
“2023 promises to be our biggest year ever, with World Cruises and Grand Voyages leading the way with about 50% of revenue,” says Bias.
Oceania Cruises recently reported record sales for a 180-day round-the-world trip that sold out within 30 minutes of opening for bookings.
Due to high demand, Viking Cruises is offering two parallel world cruises for the first time in 2023/2024. The 138-day itineraries include 57 ports of call in 28 countries, departing Fort Lauderdale in December 2023 aboard Viking Sky and Viking Neptune.
Concept adapted for residents
A new residential cruise ship expands the market for living on board.
Suzanne Lankes is a retiree from Monterey Bay, California, who has already taken to cruising with more than 55 circumnavigations. The idea of retiring on a cruise ship first came to her when she saw The World, a luxury floating megaship with 165 living quarters.
But when Lankes called to inquire about the cost of living on board, the amount was out of her budget.
“They wanted me to prove that I had $8 million in my account,” she recalled. “I was somewhat disappointed.”
But when Lankes heard about a new and more affordable sailing option in 2024, she was one of the first to buy a ticket to board the MV Narrative, a ship from a new residential community at sea startup called Storylines.
The ship will have 547 accommodations and amenities, including 20 restaurants and bars, an on-board educational program for families with children, a cinema, a hydroponic garden, and extensive health and fitness centers.
Direct sales will cost between $1 million and $8 million, but a limited number of 12- and 24-year leases start at $500. They are expected to sell out before the end of 000, according to Storylines co-founder Alistair Panton.
Lankes bought her one-bedroom balcony ship residence in 2019 and plans to pay fees that range from $65 to $000 depending on the size of the apartment and location using the money she earns renting out her California home.
Going beyond one-way cruises
Marty Finver of Lake Worth, Florida, another cruise lover who bought a one-bedroom residence aboard the MV Narrative, is looking forward to the trip.
Finver has spent over 2004 days at sea since 3750.
“No matter how far-sighted you are, there will always be breaks on the cruise, and this entails additional costs for hotels, flights and so on,” he said.
The MV Narrative's route "follows the sun," says Storylines co-founder Shannon Lee, and the ship is required to circumnavigate the globe every three years, stopping in each geographic region for about three months (and an average of two to three days at each port of call).
Residents can fly in and out to meet the ship, spend as much time on board as they want, and can even invite guests over.
Lankes says that when it comes to the destinations her future houseboat will go to, she's not picky.
“I just love the fact that I can sail anywhere and have a community on board,” she says. “I suppose that my residence will be something like my bedroom, and the whole ship will be my home.”
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