This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with spouses Angela Nuran, 62, and Paul Cosentino, 72, about their decision to sell their home and purchase a cabin aboard the Storylines MV Narrative, a luxury residential cruise ship, where they will live full-time. The MV Narrative will set sail in 2025 and circumnavigate the earth once every three years continuously, with stops in ports across the globe.
Paul: We always thought it would be nice to live at sea, but we've had pets. We still have pets. So we stayed here in Florida. We always knew we would like to travel by ship. I saw on the news one day that this new ship would come out and my first question to them was, 'Do you allow pets' And they said they did.
Paul: We laid out the floor plan in our house to see just how much space there would be. Once we did that, we upgraded to a slightly larger stateroom because we probably would like a little extra space. We're going from a 6,000-square-foot house down to a 721-square-foot cabin.
We're downsizing but when we're in our state room, we're either asleep, watching TV, or sitting on the balcony. How much room do we really need We got the whole ship, and we're going to be going ashore as much as we like.
Paul: A lot of the other residential cruise ships have kitchens in the cabins. The Narrative has 20 restaurants and bars, and most of the food is provided and cooked for you. Why would we want a full-blown kitchen that just takes up space in a stateroom when we're not going to be in our stateroom cooking The staterooms have a microwave and refrigerator. If we do have the occasion that we want to cook something, there's a community kitchen on every floor.
Paul: They're about $135,000 a year and that includes food. The only thing not in there which is of concern is health insurance. They do provide medical care on the ship, but you never know what's gonna happen. So I intend to keep my Medicare insurance in the US should I need to come back here. And my wife will do the same when she gets on it.
Paul: We wanted to have flexibility to just get our toothbrush and get on a plane and go when the ship was ready. We didn't want to have a house up for sale while we're traveling and deal with hurricanes and all that if that situation were to develop.
Paul: Any American citizen living anywhere and earning money, including interest and dividends, still has to pay taxes. You still file a tax return unless you were to give up your citizenship and become a citizen of another country. But we're not going to do that. We're going to remain American citizens.
Paul: My wife was, at one time, a dance teacher. And I was a ballroom dancer myself, though not professional. We used to teach on cruise ships and we really enjoyed doing that. We said, someday we'd like to do this full time.
Storylines will be providing different types of entertainment venues on the ship, just not to the extent that one would expect on a commercial type of a ship. The Narrative will also have a 10,000-square-foot wellness center with all types of interactive classes, Zumba classes, weight rooms, spas, pickleball courts, and a golf simulator.
Angela: On a regular ship, a shore excursion is only going to last the few hours that you're in port. Well, the Narrative is not going to spend just one day at port, they're going to spend three days, four days, five days depending on where you're going. We're really looking forward to having the convenience and the safety of being able to get off the ship and participate in some of these travel experiences under the umbrella of the Narrative.
The itinerary is set only from point-to-point every 2 weeks to allow for provisioning and safe running of the vessel. All other ports and locations in between those dates are voted on by you, as a cabin-condo owner, via their app. This innovative approach allows the on-board community to choose destinations just a few days in advance.
The company is offering a range of attractive financing options to match your budget, cash flow and time frame. Reserving your cabin-condo is easy, with a fully refundable $5,000 deposit subject to terms and conditions of the agreement.
The total costs of living on a cruise ship are going to depend on how you choose to live, just like it would on land. For example, what cruises you book, the food plans you choose, and how much entertainment you buy will all vary by person and could greatly impact your overall costs. Many find living this way more affordable than paying off a mortgage. You can spend anywhere from around $90 per day to millions per year.
According to Cruise Market Watch, a website that provides statistics about the ocean cruise industry, the average person spent approximately $212 per day aboard a cruise ship in 2018. This included the ticket price and onboard spending for food, entertainment and miscellaneous purchases. Based on that number, the average cost of living aboard a cruise ship year-round would total a little more than $77,000 for retirees taking a nomadic approach. So if you were planning to spend 20 years in retirement, you could spend $1.54 million to live on a cruise ship.
Storylines, for example, is a newer cruise line offering retirees and other travelers the opportunity to purchase onboard condominiums starting at around $352,000 for 172 square feet. At the high end, Storylines offers permanent residences starting at $3.2 million for up to 1,690 square feet. The purchase price includes all meals and beverages for residents, laundry service, onboard gratuities and laundry service. The cruise line also offers an onboard fresh foods market for residents who prefer to prepare meals themselves.
Assuming that retirees pay cash for an all-inclusive condo that includes meals, rather than financing it over the long-term, that could substantially lower the cost of living. You do, however, have to factor in the annual assessment fees. These fees cover things like ship maintenance, supplies and staff salaries. With Storylines, the average daily assessment fee ranges from $70 per person to $205 per person, based on the choice of the condo. At that rate, the yearly cost of living onboard permanently would range from $25,550 to $74,825.
Of course, if you decide to keep your home while living on a cruise ship, it would change those numbers. And even if you sell, you may have to account for other land-side expenses, such as storage for personal property or vehicles, or debts you may still be paying off.
One solution is to purchase cruise travel medical insurance. This can help you manage these types of costs if they become necessary. According to online travel insurance company Squaremouth, this coverage typically costs around 5% to 7% of the trip cost when purchased through a third-party insurer. Cruise lines can also offer their own travel insurance, which includes emergency medical coverage.
Cruise ships can offer recreational activities so that you have a way to stay active while engaging with other passengers. As you compare cruise lines, consider what opportunities for socializing they provide.
The last thing cruise lines want is too many empty cruise ship cabins on any given sailing. Unsold cruise cabins mean fewer passengers to spend money on drinks, excursions, in the spa and at alternative restaurants.
With a goal of more than 100 percent occupancy on every sailing (meaning the number of passengers onboard is equal to or higher than the double-occupancy capacity of the ship), cruise lines have a variety of tactics for filling empty cabins -- most of which can result in deep savings for cruisers in the know.
But getting a deal on a cruise sailing that's not selling well requires some effort -- and usually a lot of flexibility. Because cruise lines will not start discounting until they have to (usually after final payment is due for that sailing), you'll need to be ready to travel within one to two months (or less) to take advantage of the low prices triggered by unsold cruise cabins.
It's much more palatable for cruise lines to publicly sell their lower-priced cabins (insides and ocean views) at discounted rates than to advertise deep reductions on balcony-level rooms or suites. That's because it's better to lose $300 by discounting an $800 inside cabin to $500, than to lose $500 by cutting the cost of a $2,200 suite to $1,700, especially considering all the perks that a suite passenger gets.
In order to fill the higher categories first, cruise lines will typically try to upsell already-booked passengers. Keep in mind, most upper categories do sell out with little extra effort from the cruise lines.
So cruisers who have already booked and paid for a balcony might get a call from a cruise line sales representative or their travel agent, offering them a suite for a couple hundred dollars more (for a total suite cost less than its advertised price). This fills up the suites, and empties the balcony cabins which will then be offered to those who booked ocean-view cabins for a small upgrade fee.
A few lines have introduced invitation-only bidding for upgrades, directed at loyal past passengers or cruisers in specific cabin categories. Instead of the cruise line offering an upgrade at a specific price, cruisers bid how much they think it's worth to pay for a higher-category cabin. The cruise line can then make a final decision based on cabin-filling needs and the best offers from passengers.
Cruise lines will offer many of the remaining cabins at exclusive sale prices to partner travel agencies with an ability to move lots of capacity (think huge Internet agencies or land-based big-box travel retailers).
The lines will also try to sell empty cabins via resident discounts to cruisers from the state from which the cruise ship sails. Cruise lines might also advertise a flash sale to subscribers of its e-letter or to its Twitter followers. 59ce067264