Cruise Ship Retirement Plan Cost: How Do Home, Assisted Living, And Hospice Care Compare?

Making a cruise ship retirement plan may sound like an exotic option, but it’s also not impossible and may actually compare favorably to the cost of home or hospice care.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, a 86-year-old widow from Florida has spent the last seven years of her retirement on the Crystal Serenity cruise ship in addition to ships from the Holland America fleet. In her case, she spends about $164,000 per year for all costs involved.

This reporter has been on multiple cruise lines, and in the process I’ve seen what Royal Caribbean, Disney, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity X, Carnival, and others have to offer. I’ve also personally personally met senior citizens who have crafted their own cruise ship retirement plan to meet their own budgets.

If you whip out a calculator, the retiree on the Crystal Serenity cruise ship is spending about $457.53 per day in order to retire on a cruise ship. This is not bad since the current cost for a seven-day trip on the Crystal Serenity cruise ship ranges from $285 to $367 per day (before taxes and fees) depending on the ports of call. All of the entertainment and food (except for alcohol and certain drinks) are included as part of the daily cost unless you go outside of the ship at one of the many visited exotic locales.

Although this particular retiree does not give an exact breakdown of her costs, it might be presumed she has a special daily rate with Crystal Cruises that’s less than the usual rates given to vacationers. Extras like medical costs, spa treatments internet access, etc. do add up, and it’s possible she has a special deal on a balcony room or a suite, but she actually may be paying more than usual compared to other retirees living on cruise ships.

The reason a cruise ship retirement plan is even possible is because cruises deals are lot like buying an airline ticket. On the same cruises you may have people who barely paid anything, while others forked out several times the amount. Cruise lines typically offer the best deals either way in advance or at the last minute (assuming they didn’t fill the ships enough). Some cruise lines are also willing to give a special daily rate if you plan on spending months or even years on their cruise ships.

Let’s assume you pick a mid-range ship and manage to keep your daily cruise cost around $100 per day. Keep in mind this does not include medical care, which can be quite expensive on cruise ships. After adding all the unplanned extras over the long term, as long as you keep your average daily cost below $250 that means your cruise ship retirement plan would work out to be around $91,250 per year.

Many retirees I’ve seen also tend to have physical limitations. In those cases, a caregiver lives with the retiree on the cruise ship, which presents an additional cost. The cost can vary a lot for live-in caregivers, but let’s assume $1,000 per week, which works out to be $52,000 a year. The caregiver also needs an extra room, or a bigger suite if the room is shared, so that would add another $36,500, assuming a cost of $100 per day.

All in all, the cost of living with a caregiver on a cruise ship may be in the range of $180,000, or $493 per day. How do other options compare? Based upon Medicare payouts, in 2010 the total hospice care spending was $13 billion for the United States, and those costs have only continued to rise. Five years ago, continuous home care cost an average of $855.79 for those needing at least eight hours a day of managed medical care. In addition, the average cost of a one day stay at a skilled nursing facility is $622.

If you do not need a live-in caregiver, then the cost of a cruise ship retirement plan actually compares even better. In 2012, it was reported that average cost of 24-hour, non-medical, live-in home care was $275 per day, while the average cost of hospice care was $147 per day. So depending on your health and the cruise line you choose, the cost of living on a cruise ship may actually be cheaper.

According to Dr. Lee Lindquist, an instructor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, a cruise ship retirement is not only about cost.

“Cruise ships offer such a range of amenities — such as three meals a day, often with escorts to meals if needed, room service, entertainment, accessible halls and cabins, housekeeping and laundry services and physicians on board — that they could actually be considered a floating assisted-living facility,” Lindquist said, according to Snopes. “Seniors who enjoy travel, have good or excellent cognitive function but require some assistance with activities of daily living are the ideal candidates for cruise-ship care. Just as with assisted living, if residents became acutely ill or got to the point that they needed a higher level of care, they would have to leave.”