Your new ‘retirement’ home could be a cruise ship

Jeff Farschman, 72, was a serial cruiser from Delaware who retired for months at sea.

Jeff Farschman

For nearly two decades, Jeff Farschman, 72, has spent his golden years like many other adventurous retirees – enjoying relaxing excursions to exotic harbors.

But unlike many of the passengers on board, Farschman basically lived at sea. He spends months traveling the world’s oceans and waterways – half a year, if not more. Though he still keeps a physical home close to where he grew up in Delaware, Farschman is now part of a growing group of older people who actually “retire” on cruise ships.

“Pandemic aside, I travel seven to eight months a year,” Farschman said. “I’m an avid traveler and world explorer and cruising has allowed me to literally see the entire planet.”

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Living on a ship was not at all what Farschman had in mind when he first started flying. However, the former vice president of Lockheed Martin found himself stranded on a routine Caribbean cruise when Hurricane Ivan made landfall in 2004.

“I continued to stretch and extend my time on board because the storm ruined my original winter plans,” he explained. “I ended up completing six trips in a row.”

Nearly 20 years later, Farschman now organizes his life around time at sea – keeping his time onshore as short as possible. That said, like every other cruiser, “sea retirees” have returned to dry land for much of the coronavirus pandemic, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention closed. all excursions from ports of the United States.

For Farschman, that means 19 months – including winter – without a flight at sea, his longest period onshore in nearly two decades. But once the major carriers establish clear Covid health protocols, the serial cruiser is the first to return to the ship. While outbreaks of Covid have since been reported – including notable cases in San Francisco and Seattle – people like Farschman say they feel safe while traveling.

Cruising’s clarion appeals to retirees

Holland America Line offers “epic” trips that last for months. Here, the Westerdam of this line sailed in Alaska.

Holland America Line

While there aren’t hard numbers, retirement on a cruise ship is growing in popularity – despite the industry turmoil caused by the coronavirus crisis.

For example, serial cruiser and author Lee Wachtstetter, Wrote a widely read memoir about life on a cruise ship for 12 years after her husband’s death. Farschman, meanwhile, recorded his seafaring history venturing on his blog – facilitated by on-board WiFi “becoming a lot more reliable, although sadly not necessarily more affordable,” he said.

The upgraded connectivity also allows semi-retired cruisers to stay at sea while still in service. Tara Bruce, consultant and creative brand director at Goodwin Investment Advisory Servicea financial advisory firm based in Woodstock, Georgia that specializes in helping retirees at sea.

With cruises, you can cover all your living expenses – meals, accommodation, entertainment – in one place.

Tara Bruce

creative brand director at Goodwin Investment Advisory Services

In many ways, retiring on a cruise ship makes a lot of sense. Prejudices aside, cruises have always appealed to older travelers. In fact, according to International Yacht Associationa third of the 28.5 million people who took a cruise in 2018 were over 60 – and more than 50% were over 50.

Furthermore, cruise ships provide many of the essential elements seniors need to thrive: organized activities, a good level of medical care, and most importantly, an integrated community of travelers like-minded guests.

Retiring on a cruise ship can also prove economically viable.

Cheaper Life Supported

“With cruises, you can cover all your living expenses – food, accommodation, entertainment – ​​in one place,” says Bruce. While prices for luxury cars can inched up to $250 per day, “we’ve seen people get costs down to $89 per day, much cheaper than assisted care or other kinds of high life.”

Farschman said repeat cruisers like the Farschman are also eligible for onboard credits for premium meals, drinks, spas and other activities that can easily amount to “hundreds of dollars each.” trip”.

The resurgence of the “retirement at sea” movement is aided by a recent shift to longer, more elaborate “world cruises” or “big cruises,” which can last 50 days. or more at the same time.

Netherlands USAfor example, offering a 71-day Grand Africa Voyage cruise stopping at 25 ports in 21 countries with Grand World Voyage visiting 61 ports in 30 countries for a total of 127 days at sea.

Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of With careful planning – often fueled by shorter “joining” voyages – “major” voyages can keep cruisers at sea almost indefinitely.

Holland America’s so-called Collectors Voyages not only help retirees avoid repeat calls, but also include 10% and 15% discounts, according to Eric Elvejord, Holland America’s director of public relations, Eric Elvejord. , Holland America’s director of public relations.

A lucrative demographic

The World, described as “the largest privately-owned residential yacht on Earth,” visits Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera.

World | Dovetail Agency

While some cruise lines specifically target retirees – Oceania for its part has Snowbird in Residence This program has been cancelled – special agents are waking up to this lucrative demographic.

CruiseWeb, based in Tysons, Virginia, has launched a High life at sea The program both builds retirement-specific itineraries and helps clients manage their lives back on the coast. In addition to booking cabins, CruiseWeb also handles matters such as shore transfers, transfers, visas and insurance.

“We have customers who have been engaged for more than a year,” said CruiseWeb senior coordinator of operations and marketing, Michael Jones. “Often they have reduced their permanent residence in their home country with many even subletting them while on the plane,” he added.

Perhaps the most notable component of retirement at sea is the arrival of purely residential vessels, like the 20-year-old. World and coming soon MV narration, from the plot. The former includes 165 individually-owned shipboard apartments, while the much larger MV Narrative – slated to set sail in 2023 – offers 547 one- to four-bedroom apartments.

Owning at sea doesn’t come cheap: Narrative MV units cost $1 million to $8 million, while some limited 1- to 2-year leases start at $400,000.

“There are also monthly or yearly expenses to cover things like fuel, port fees, taxes, and housekeeping,” explains McDaniel. “It’s like living in an apartment – it just happens at sea.”

– By David Kaufman. Kaufman is a freelance writer.

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