On today’s show we’re talking about one vision for retirement that a number of people are actively doing.

For some people, the vision of retirement is that they will take time and travel the world. There’s no better way to do that than aboard a cruise ship.

From the early 1970’s my parents traveled extensively on cruise ships. In fact my father spent no less than 800 days aboard a cruise ship. He had taken the around the world cruise no less than 6 times. He did numerous ocean crossings, and dozens of Caribbean, European and Alaska cruises. Think about it, that’s more than two years of his life, spent aboard a cruise ship. When he was traveling that extensively on board, it was pretty unusual. In fact, from the time I was about 12 years old, my parents were gone for anywhere from 2 to 4 months out of each year. If that were to happen today, I’m guessing they would have been charged with abandonment. But that’s an entirely other matter. My sister and I lived at home, went to school, and did our homework. We cooked our own meals and looked after the house. That was pretty unusual too.

These days, the cruise industry has grown dramatically.

Last year, the cruise industry hosted 27 million passengers. Demand for cruising has grown 20% in the past 5 years and growth has been averaging about 4% a year. An additional 32,000 beds of capacity was added just in the past year alone.

So let’s look at the economics of living aboard a cruise ship. The average cruise passenger spends $213 a day. But that’s with drinks, photos, tours, and all the various sales in the gift shops. If you’re living aboard, the real cost can be much lower.

The average person spends $46,000 a year in retirement. That comes to a daily spend of $112 a day.

I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that you can definitely live aboard a cruise ship for $112 a day on average. Even if you increase the budget to $150 a day, there is a large percentage of the population that could easily afford $55,000 a year. Understand, that if you’re living aboard, that pretty much covers all your daily expenses. Your bed sheets get changed every day, all your meals are included. You might need to buy some clothing and spend a little money ashore, and pay for medical insurance. Apart from this, you have no other financial obligations.

Compared with the cost of senior living in an independent living complex, a cruise ship is still a bargain.

There are activities, shows, entertainment, and a high level of service. Your cabin stewards, waiters, deck hands are all available to help guests at any time.

The ships hospital is equipped to handle any emergency situations. But just beware, if you have a health issue, you can expect the cruise line to transfer you to a hospital at the next port.

An increasing number of people are making the cruising lifestyle part of their retirement plan. I know of some people who have been doing this full time for over 10 years.

Some people don’t like the cruise experience. They don’t like the crowds at the lunch buffet, and they don’t like the party crowd who can be a bit boisterous. But some cruise lines like Holland America and Royal Caribbean have built more of a reputation for being a bit more tame. They don’t attract quite as much of the Spring Break kind of crowd.

While we don’t expect cruise ship living to represent a first choice for many retirees, it is definitely a choice for some. Even those who would consider a sunbelt destination in the winter months are choosing the cruise ship alternative to a permanent second home for those colder winter months.