Rampulla & Newstad LLP

With skilled nursing home care prices rising year after year, many retirees are looking into other avenues for their end-of-life care. Some are building additions onto their homes for whatever full-time care they may receive in-home in the future, and some are building tiny accessible homes on their children’s property. If the construction projects aren’t for you, some retirees are hitting the seas.

Mama Lee Wachtstetter began living on a cruise ship in 2008, and remained there into her 90s, more than 12 years later. It cost her approximately $164,000 per year for her single-occupancy room.[1] That sounds expensive but even an “all-inclusive” assisted living facility would not have provided the same quality of goods and services. Mama Lee enjoyed daily lunch and dinner with beverages, tips, daily ballroom dancing, cocktail parties, movies, lectures, other shows and entertainment and most uniquely: the opportunity to travel and meet people from all over the world.[2] She said the one thing she missed was her family, but she stayed in touch with them via laptop and telephone, and was able to see them about five times per year when she docked in Miami.[3]

Others have followed in her footsteps. An Australian couple booked 51 back-to-back cruises, culminating in a 455 day trip…and they have no plans to stop anytime soon.[4] They realized living on a cruise ship is cheaper than traditional retirement care. They are among a growing group of seniors who are spending their money being catered to on a cruise ship, for less than the cost of a nursing home.

  • The average cost of a nursing home as of 2022 is $8,821 per month (that’s over $100,000 per year!)[5]
  • It is estimated that between 27 million and 30 million adults over the age of 60 will need long-term care services, whether in-home or in a facility, by the year 2050.[6]
  • And for those clients who say “my kids will take care of me”: The estimated dollar value of long-term care provided by unpaid caregivers as of 2013 was $470 billion dollars.[7]

The average percentage of caregivers for people age 50 or older who said they were experiencing high levels of financial strain was 36%.[8]

While those requiring higher levels of skilled care will not be able to reside on a cruise ship, it may be an option for some. If you are fortunate enough to afford the bill of a cruise ship, why not see the world while having unlimited entertainment at your fingertips? Would you consider

[1] Liberman, Si, Woman Pays $164k Per Year to Live on Luxury Cruise Ship, Jan. 2015 USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2015/01/19/woman-pays-164k-per-year-to-live-on-luxury-cruise-ship/22030011/

[2] Id.

[3] Liberman, supra.

[4] Attansio, Joe, Aussie couple ‘living’ on cruise ship as cheaper option to retirement home, September 2023 Yahoo! News, https://au.news.yahoo.com/aussie-couple-living-on-cruise-ship-as-cheaper-option-to-retirement-home-223844510.html

[5] Zippia. “25 Insightful Nursing Home Statistics [2023]: How Many Nursing Homes Are In the US?” Zippia.com. Jul. 3, 2023, https://www.zippia.com/advice/nursing-home-statistics/

[6] Id.

[7] Benz, Christine, 75 Must-Know Statistics About Long-Term Care: 2018 Edition, August 2018 Morningstar Financial, https://www.morningstar.com/articles/879494/75-mustknow-statistics-about-longterm-care-2018-ed.html

[8] Id.