Spending one’s retirement years on a luxury floating hotel with amenities galore might seem like a dream of the rich. But more than ever now, this is a possibility for an increasing number of senior people with many examples of the elderly spending years on cruise ships.
In a host of developed countries, the norm is for the elderly to live in assisted living facilities, where the entire gamut of household chores are performed by staff and basic medical amenities are usually available on site. It allows companionship with people of a similar age and care when required.
For many, traveling the world as independent older people becomes increasingly easy on a cruise ship. Instances have been noted of older folk who have lived on board ships like the Queen Elizabeth 2, Crystal Serenity and Cunard cruises for seven to 12 years. Some reports suggest retiring to a cruise line is even cheaper than assisted living facilities.
How do they do this?
Sometimes, as with all hotel ventures, cruise ships have empty rooms that offer them no revenue, and companies will opt to fill these up at lower rates. The ideal person who is not bound by requirements of returning to work is the retired elderly. Cruise ships prefer having them over as they rarely, if ever, create a nuisance, and typically have standard regimens making it easier for staff to provide facilities.
For the elderly, spending their retired lives on board a cruise ship is the perfect way out of a lonely life in a city or suburb. Cruise ships offer all facilities and amenities they might want – from meals of different types, to housekeeping and room service, exercise classes and spas, movies, entertainment, and even basic medical care.
A few lucky retirees even get by for free, by offering their skills on board, such as giving lectures on destinations the cruise ship will dock at or topics of special interest.
Some cruise ships such as The World offer luxury residences at sea, where passengers own apartments – some live on board full time, some several months of the year. The average age of residents is reported to be 64, and the cruise line sails to various ports based on recommendations from the residents.
Cruise Lines International Association reported that 24 million passengers are expected to go on cruises this year, up from 15 million a decade ago. Of these, 25 per cent are between 60 and 74 years old, and another 25 per cent are aged 50-59. It appears that many retired folk find it financially more sensible to live aboard a cruise ship than in other retirement facilities in costly areas.
Cruise ships offer excellent quality, resort-style amenities, unlimited entertainment and activities to either mix up every day or maintain a schedule, no worries about grocery shopping, other needs met a few steps away, and travelling the world at a leisurely pace. With a varied age group, cruise ships also offer retirees the opportunity to meet different people of all ages – from infants to teenagers, adults and other seniors – and multiple nationalities.