How Much Does It Cost to Live On a Cruise Ship?


Level 2 Member

One of my fantasies is to sell everything I own and be a perpetual traveler. Like most of our fantasies, this one is not very realistic, but that doesn't stop me from fantasizing about it! One way to do this would be to take an extremely long cruise, or a series of short back-to-back cruises. There are people who have done this, and I've gotten a lot of entertainment from reading about them.

If you google "Living on a Cruise Ship," one article that keeps popping up is the story of Lee Wachtstetter, who sold her house and is now a permanent residence on the Crystal Serenity (pictured above.) She says her total costs are around $164,000/year. This includes gratuities, the single-occupancy supplement and specialty dining, all on a bona fide luxury ship.

Beatrice Muller, lived off and on the QE2 for 14 years, according to an article in the BBC News in 2008, Her costs for a single inside cabin were about $5000 per month.

But the story that has impressed me the most is the touching story of Egon Landsberg, who posted under the username of Musicus in the CruiseCritic forums. He passed away in 2013, but lived aboard the MSC Poesia, and blogged about it in a thread that is now over 90 pages long. He estimated his costs at being about $50K/year. I am still working my way through this megathread.

One thing that these three cruisers have in common is they are cruising in late retirement, and are using the cruise ships as de facto retirement homes. But what about the regular shmoe who just wants to goof off for an indefinite period aboard ship? Is it economically feasible? My goal is to investigate what the actual costs would be to live on a normal (not luxury line) for a month at a time.

In the next few blog posts, I am going to compare costs of taking a series of back-to-back cruises during the course of a month on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian cruise lines. As a starting reference point, I will look at the cost of two people sharing the most inexpensive cabin.