2017 Travel Trends: Retire on a Cruise Ship

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Floating home: The Seabourn Sojourn.

The At-Sea Retiree

Why sailing into the sunset might be the smartest retirement choice.

A stateroom on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas.
Future cruise retirees: Ralph Bias (left) and Mark Zilbert.

By Amy Cassell
One out of every ten Americans is set to retire this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there’s a new option for post-career bliss: Sail away. Intrepid travelers are downsizing on land and opting to spend a portion of their time at sea. And while retirees’ individual needs vary (a cruise doesn’t offer the same care as an assisted-living facility, for example), one industry report found that extended time on a ship can cost less than living in several major U.S. cities. 
Cruise lines are ready to welcome their new nautical citizens: Oceania Cruises recently introduced “Snowbirds in Residence” perks for select 58- and 72-day voyages in 2017 and 2018, and Crystal Cruises announced it’s developing permanent residences that will be available for purchase on new ships. Maybe it’s time to rethink buying that second home on the coast and book a long-term suite at sea instead.
*Life at Sea 
Mario Salcedo has spent 6,000 days (and counting) on Royal Caribbean’s fleet since 2000. The 67-year-old retiree keeps a small condo in Miami for those few days he’s on land.
I cruise because: “I have a passion for the ocean and a desire to make life easy. Plus, it gives me maximum time for the activities I’ve always wanted to pursue.” 
The best aspect of life on board: “The opportunity to make friends from all over the world, especially the crew members. They’ve become like my family.”
My typical day: “I started a small, Internet-based business when I moved on board. I spend four or five hours a day running that from the pool deck. The rest of the day is the fun part: touring ports of call, scuba diving, and discovering new beaches, plus dancing, trivia, and enrichment lectures on the ship.”
*A Floating Second Home
Miami Beach-based Virtuoso agency executive Ralph Bias practices what he promotes: Beyond helping others cruise, he and his partner, Mark Zilbert, sail frequently. When they retire, they plan to spend extended time on Seabourn’s fleet.
We chose cruising over buying a second home because: “A ship truly is a home away from home, and it’s a better investment for us. Instead of going somewhere and looking at the same lake for three months, we’re traveling the world.”
You’ll find us: “Sailing through Asia. I love Hong Kong, and Vietnam is amazing. That will probably be followed by the French Riviera – there’s no better place to be in the summer.”
If you want to retire at sea: “You must love cruising, and you should have a financial manager at home to take care of your affairs. Most important: Choose the right ship, because that’s what you’re going to fall in love with. An advisor can help you find the best fit.” 
More 2017 Travel Trends:
The Kinder, Gentler Airport
The Future of Hospitality
The Smarter Suitcase
The Haute Homestay
 Originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Virtuoso Life.