Cruises can make for fantastic vacations. Some people swear by them.
Money expert Clark Howard’s son loves them so much that Clark and his family have become frequent cruise passengers in recent years.
But would you want to live on a cruise ship long-term in retirement?
That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Should I Live on a Cruise Ship in Retirement?
It sounds like an urban legend. But living on a cruise ship is a real thing for many people.
How do I decide if living permanently on a cruise ship is right for me? That’s what a listener wondered on the July 24 podcast.
Asked Heidi in Washington: “What are Clark’s thoughts about living on a residential cruise ship for retirement? For example, Victoria Cruise Lines’ around-the-world cruise.”
Clark gave a brief overview of the major considerations — cost and the reality of potentially living in a tiny space on a ship year-round.
“So Heidi, you’re talking about my son’s dream, to live on a cruise ship year-round,” Clark says. “The residential cruise ships are very, very expensive. You live in very small spaces unless you really pry open the wallet. You have to love the idea of being on a ship all year round.
“And with a lot of the residential cruise ships, you’re not renting that space. You are buying a cabin. It would be like living in a condominium and having all the fees with it.”
How To Gauge Whether Living on a Cruise Ship Is Right for You
Think you want to live on a cruise ship? Book a two-month cruise first. You’ll get a much better sense of whether it’s a good idea for you.
“You’ll have a real sense after two months on a cruise ship,” Clark says. “Are you really someone who should live on a cruise ship year-round? Because we’re talking about the psychological factor as well as the financial factor.”
The Harsh Reality of Living on a Cruise Ship
There are two types of people who live on cruise ships according to Clark.
First, there are those who have some wealth. They’re not doing it to save money. They may still have a residence on land. And they can spring for the nicer cabins with portholes and balconies.
Then there are those who are living on a cruise ship to save money. On a 2022 podcast, Clark described the likely destination for that group as an inside, windowless stateroom that’s between 125 and 160 square feet. Expect a bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet that is barely larger than what you’ll find on an airplane.
That’s the only way to make living on a cruise economical, he says.
“I mean, it is not for the faint of heart to live in an inside cabin,” Clark says.
The Hidden Benefit of Living on a Cruise Ship
One potential silver lining of staying on a cruise line in an inside stateroom long-term? You’ll rack up rewards points or obtain higher statuses. And then you’ll become eligible for upgrades.
Those upgrades are sometimes unpredictable, though.
The people who fare best usually are pretty good at knowing where to look for a great deal booking a cruise and working the rewards systems.
Thinking about pulling off this crazy idea and living on a ship year-round?
Clark recommends that you take a two-month test trip first. That way you fully understand the reality of what you’d experience.