Retiring on a cruise ship: what you need to know

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated June 14, 2024

Find out what retiring on a cruise ship entails and whether this lifestyle is financially sustainable.


  • Retiring on a cruise ship can be more affordable than other retirement options. 

  • There are many different cruise retirement package options, including purchasing a cabin and buying long-term cruise tickets.  

  • The best way to prepare for retirement is to seek the advice of an expert financial advisor 

Can you live on a cruise ship when you retire? 

Yes, you can live on a cruise ship when you retire.  

With more people exploring retirement options outside of conventional care homes, the decision to retire on a cruise ship is becoming increasingly popular with seniors worldwide.  

There are several reasons why retirement on a cruise ship is gaining popularity. It offers a constant change of scenery, ample amenities, a built-in community, and, if planned well, can be a more affordable way to live out your golden years.  

What is the cost of living on a cruise ship? 

If you are strategic about how you spend your nest egg, the cost of living on a cruise ship can be low.  

The total cost of living spent on retirement abroad depends largely on your lifestyle choices — with tickets and full-service lodging ranging between $90 and $300 per day.  

There are two main options when it comes to paying for retirement on a cruise ship. Both are viable ways to reduce retirement costs. The first involves purchasing a cruise cabin, which, depending on size and quality, can cost between $352,000 and $3.2 million.  

The second entails booking back-to-back long-term cruises. Year-round living on a cruise ship costs an average of $77,000 per year — or $989,040 for a 20-year retirement.  

Most cruises are inclusive packages that offer access to all available amenities and daily goods.  

What are the pros and cons of cruise ship retirement? 

While retiring on a cruise ship has many advantages, there are also some challenges and downsides to consider.  

Below are some pros and cons of retirement on a cruise ship that every person should consider before making a final decision:  


  • Opportunity to travel: Retiring on a cruise ship means getting to constantly visit new countries, seas, and coastlines while enjoying changing scenery throughout the year.  

  • Built-in community: With more seniors retiring abroad than ever before, you can participate in a healthy community of people from all over the world.  

  • Comprehensive amenities: Cruise ships offer movie theaters, watersports, fine dining, and healthcare services that go beyond basic needs.  


  • Limited medical facilities: While cruise ships do offer comprehensive healthcare services (including emergency facilities), they are limited by comparison to what land-based hospitals offer.  

  • Privacy issues: Cruise ships may be large vessels, but they can feel cramped at times.  

  • Potential for seasickness: Spending months on end at sea can cause nausea and seasickness that is difficult to relieve.  

What are the tax considerations when retiring on a cruise ship? 

You will still be taxed for your income if you retire on a cruise ship.  

Any income you receive, including Social Security benefits and annuities, will remain taxable even if you spend the majority of your time at sea.  

Do I need to get insurance when retiring on a cruise ship? 

The most important kind of insurance to get when retiring on a cruise ship is health insurance. If you have Medicare, it will provide coverage for your time spent at sea, but only if: 

  • The ship is in a US port or within six hours of a US port at the time of requiring services.  

  • The available doctor or surgeon is allowed under certain laws to provide medical services aboard the cruise ship (rules differ from ship to ship).  

Due to these specific clauses, it is recommended that cruise ship retirees obtain private healthcare insurance separately in order to secure medical protection.  

How do you choose the right cruise for retirement? 

If you are going to retire on a cruise ship, it is essential to select a cruise line that is well-suited for long-term living and your personal preferences.  

There are several important factors to consider, including stability, cost, routes, cabin comfort, and onboard services tailored to seniors. The right retirement on a cruise ship depends on your personal needs and financial circumstances.  

How do I prepare for cruise ship retirement? 

In order to prepare for retirement on a cruise ship, there are a few steps you can take.  

Financial planning is imperative. Gaining a full-scope understanding of your financial circumstances will help you choose the right cruise for retirement and make decisions that are realistically in alignment with your goals.  

Another way to prepare for retiring on a cruise ship is to downsize your possessions.  

Full health assessments and establishing a plan for long-term medical care are also crucial preparatory steps you can take as you plan your retirement life on the seas.  

Get expert financial advice 

Retiring on a cruise ship is a decision that more seniors are making every year. Cruise ships offer a wide array of amenities, healthcare, and entertainment options that can suit retirees of varying budgets and retirement goals. 

To find out more about how to retire on a cruise ship and why this trend is gaining momentum, get matched with a financial advisor via Unbiased and develop a personalized retirement strategy.  


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.