Whether going for a long weekend or a month long travel, going on a cruise is the ultimate vacation. Tired after a long day's work, I long to be on a cruise where I can be waited on and pampered. No grocery shopping, no dishes to wash, clean sheets and linen daily, dine to my heart's content, walk to a show, read, or just watch the sea. Little wonder that some older adults think of cruise ships when checking out retirement communities. It has been tried and it can be done.
Bea Muller, 89 years old, opted to stay in the Queen Elizabeth 2 when her husband died. She sailed the seas on the QE2 from 2000 until 2008 when the QE2 sailed to Dubai to become a museum. She was then flown to the replacement ship, the QM2 where she is in residence. Clair Macbeth sailed back to back cruises on Cunard Lines for 14 years. Blogs and forums talk about the tempting promise of cruise ships as retirement communities and the advantages of cruise ships over assisted living apartments for the older adult. I think of travel in retirement but would also love to live where I can walk to every place. What is better than a cruise ship to do both.
In the October 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Dr. Lee A. Lindquist and Dr.Robert M. Golub examined the needs and care of older adults in assisted living and compared them with the care provided in cruise ships. They found that the cost for both was about equal. The article goes on to suggest how cruise ships can modify services to accommodate the long term needs of older passengers. They suggest that cruising is a viable alternative for older adults who can no longer live independently but are still healthy enough not to require much medical and nursing intervention. The American Geriatrics Society estimates assisted living cost to be anywhere from a low $30,288 to upwards of $48,000 a year. The cost of living on a cruise ship varies according to type of accommodation, season and cruise line. In January 2010, Holland America will start a cruise to circumnavigate the world from Sidney, Australia to Vancouver, BC, Canada. An inside cabin for single occupancy starts at $11,476 for the 74 day voyage or $45,904.00 for back to back booking for 296 days. Quite tempting, I must say.
For the affluent, there is of course, The World Ship, a 12 deck floating city where one can buy a 2-3 bedroom condo (675-3,242 sq ft of luxury accommodations) for a mere 1.3 to 6.3M USD, not to mention the condo fees to pay the crew, fuel, insurance and whatever else it takes to float a ship. Owners can disembark and stay in any port and catch the ship in another city. Condos can be rented for 1,000.00 USD/night and up with a week long minimum. A second floating city is soon to launch.
Cruise living will attract a unique breed of older adults. Unless you own or rent a condo in The World Ship, you have to change rooms with each sailing. This and living in a 10 x 12 foot space make it hard to have a sense of home. You cannot drive over to a relative's home for a nice visit or watch the grandchildren play ball. Passengers change with each sailing making it difficult to keep lasting relationships.
On the other hand, this is the ultimate example of having few possessions, living uncluttered, living simply (but oh, so luxuriously,) of letting go and looking at life as a series of hello's and goodbyes.