Cruising into the Sunset

If you can afford assisted living care, why not use that money and live on a cruise ship? After returning from a recent cruise, my husband and I decided we are not really “cruisers”, so to speak. We enjoyed our vacation and the ports of call; however, we found ourselves kind of bored during the “sea days” and realized we had an issue with sitting on a lounge chair on the deck and just chilling. We tried and it felt good for about thirty minutes but then we found we had to be in motion…of the two-legged kind, not just the motion of the ocean. Of course the ship was so huge there was plenty to see and experience but it was a “been there, done that” kind of vacation. The week was definitely a good value, however, as everything was taken care of…the food was beyond excellent, constant entertainment and the cabins were very adequate.

Even though we are happier with a more active vacation, we could see the value for someone older who might require some help in their everyday life. Compare a cruise to an assisted living facility, for example, and the cruise offers the same benefits at a comparable, or sometimes reduced, price. There is a medical team always on call; the food is phenomenal with healthy choices as well as indescribable desserts. Extra charges were for alcoholic and soft drinks, but if you’re a fan of iced tea, coffee or lemonade, you can drink all you want without any extra fees. On our particular cruise, tipping was added to the bill at the end, at the rate of $10 per day per person. That means travelers are not constantly looking at a beckoning open hand and feeling obligated to tip with each service.

There was a terrific spa on board with all kinds of state-of-the-art workout equipment, along with opportunities for massages and the like. There’s no excuse not to get some quality exercise while onboard, regardless of the weather.

The ship’s employees got to know us by name within a day or two so imagine staying on the same ship for months at a time. Being assigned a table at one of the dining rooms, your servers greet you by name and seem to have a great attitude about their job. The housekeeping staff is equally affable, also showing an appreciation for the fact that they have a job, not to mention the unique aspect of working on a floating city. We always felt safe on board which a senior would particularly appreciate.

We opted for the cheap way out and reserved an inner cabin, which means no windows. The size was perfectly adequate with a great shower in the roomy bathroom. Not having a window meant not wanting to spend much time in the cabin, however…for a few hundred more a porthole, or balcony would have been great. If one would decide to spend several months on a ship, we think a window would be necessary.

Pricewise, our trip started at $600 per person for a 7 night trip with 3 ports of call in the Western Caribbean. Add another $10 per day per person for tips and you have $670. That’s about as cheap as you can get for a weeklong cruise. However, once you’ve taken your first cruise, the cruise line will give you all kinds of bennies to get you back onboard. We had the option of putting $100 down on our next cruise, fully refundable and you didn’t have to decide on a date, with the bonus of $200 shipboard credit. That’s a big bonus if you like to drink or want to avail yourself of the extras. So you’re looking at $2,680 a month. You can’t buy a whole lot of time in an assisted living facility for that kind of dough.

Of course, one has to be quite independent and pretty much able to get around on their own. We saw several passengers in wheelchairs so the ship is wheelchair-accessible if needed. It sounds like a great way to while away your final years. No worry about the yard, housework, cooking…and the entertainment is great and always changing. If you’re a social butterfly, even better…think of all the new friendships you could make…your Christmas card list will be bursting at the seams!

2 responses to “Cruising into the Sunset

  1. Susan,
    I had heard about that idea of “cruising into the sunset” for seniors. Cheaper than assisted living. If you and Charlie decide to do it let us know and we will join you. HaHa. I also had an idea of an “elder commune”. We could buy a small hotel. Those of us who like to cook can be in charge of the kitchen and cook great meals. We can transport each other to doctor appts, help with shopping and have a great social life without much effort.

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    • Faye, I love the commune idea. It sounds so typical of something our generation would do, rather than settling for a long term care facility. Using one person’s strength to help another’s weakness and vice-versa. I think you’re onto something there, Faye, and we have a few small motels over here for sale!

      Like

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