Australian couple retires on cruise ship, cheaper than retirement home

A couple of Aussie retirees have told how they’ve enjoyed 51 back-to-back cruises, claiming the non-stop travel is cheaper than living in a retirement home.

Former Brisbanites Marty and Jess Ansen boarded the Coral Princess in June last year and haven’t returned to land for more than a few hours ever since.

So far, they’ve spent 455 days on back-to-back cruises, in what they say is an affordable retirement option.

“It’s our lifestyle,” Ms Ansen told A Current Affair this week.

“Where else can you go (to have this)? You go for dinner, you go to a show, you go dancing. Through the day you have all these activities. I love the hula dancing and the ballroom dancing.”

The great-grandparents have spent more time on board than the ship’s captains. They’re on a first-name basis with all of the crew.

“We’re on board longer than anybody else. The wheels change over but we stay on board,” Mr Ansen joked.

“We welcome the different captains on board.”

Even the Coral Princess’s hotel manager, Ren van Rooyen, has spent less time on board than the Ansens.

“We always joke that I go away and I come back and it’s like coming to see my family, my mum and dad, again. They’re like my second mum and dad on board,” Mr Van Rooyen said.

“Everyone knows them around the ship. They’re basically celebrities on board.”

Is cruising full-time cheaper than a retirement home?

Interestingly, the Ansens may have a point. Depending on the package, cruising can be cheaper than some of Australia’s more expensive assisted living facilities.

Although time on a luxury liner can cost hundreds of dollars per day, Tara Bruce, a consultant at Goodwin Investment Advisory Services, which helps people to retire at sea, previously told CNBC she’s seen clients whose costs were as low as US$89 (A$140) per day.

Cruise liners also typically have a full-time medical team to deal with healthcare emergencies, as well as cleaning services, Wi-Fi and all-you-can-eat buffets included in the price.

Back-to-back tropical cruises means skipping out on winter, which is when older people tend to experience the most health issues, while some operators offer discounts to longer term passengers.

That being said, full-time cruising doesn’t include some of the more obvious benefits of retirement on land.

For example, the Australian and state governments offer subsidised housing and healthcare to many seniors. Additionally, if you have a prolonged or severe medical condition, a cruise ship likely isn’t the best fit.

Life as a full-time cruise ship retiree

According to the Ansens, life on a cruise ship isn’t too different to life in a retirement home.

The couple starts each day with an hour-long game of table tennis, starting at 5:30am, before they watch the sun rise together.

“We do it together and we have a lot of fun,” Ms Ansen said, adding it was the perfect exercise to keep her weight down as she enjoyed the many buffets on board.

The pair have another eight months aboard the Coral Princess before they disembark and spend a few months on dry land.

Then, they’ll head off once again for a year-long cruise on the Crown Princess.

The couple said they always make plans to meet up with family while on land, but they have no plans to return permanently any time soon.

“We don’t know how to wash up anymore, we don’t know how to make a bed, because we haven’t done it for so long. So now we have to stay on board just to stay alive.” Mr Ansen joked.

Get in touch — chloe.whelan@news.com.au

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