For some people, there is nothing better in life than being aboard a cruise ship. It’s not uncommon to find people on your ship that have spent literally months at sea when you combine all the days they’ve sailed.
But what about the ultimate vacation of living aboard a cruise ship full time? Believe it or not, there are lots of people that do this one way or another.
Some people just plan short journeys that sail back-to-back giving them a chance to experience life at sea while also never being too far from home on shore. Others live on residential cruise ships like The World that are specifically made for living aboard full time. And still more embark on lengthy around-the-world cruises that can last six months and circle the globe.
Plenty of Positives About Living on a Ship
To be sure there is a lot to like about living full-time on a cruise ship.
For one, there’s a minimalist lifestyle that can be appealing to some people. Living on a cruise ship, you never have to paint the house, mow the yard, shovel the walk, or deal with fixing a clogged drain.
The same can be said for having things like meals ready for you without having to worry about what’s in the refrigerator, meal prep, and then cleaning the kitchen afterward. There’s someone to clean the cabin for you, and you don’t even have to do laundry.
And then you get the benefit of being able to travel around the world (or at least an area of the world) with changing scenery each day. When it comes to travel, there’s no easier way to explore than to do so by cruise ship. It’s much more comfortable and convenient than flying or driving.
Drawbacks of Living on a Cruise Ship
While it’s easy to see the appeal of living aboard a cruise ship full-time, there’s much more to it than just buying a (expensive) ticket and packing your bag. Compared to say, moving to a condo on the beach, living on a cruise ship comes with its own unique set of circumstances that some people don’t consider.
So what are some of the drawbacks that may not cross your mind when you dream of living aboard a cruise ship full time?
Dealing With Constant Crowds
Let’s first say that every cruise ship is different. And if you sail on a high-end ship that features full-time residences or is one of those lengthy around-the-world trips, then you likely aren’t going to be around throngs of people.
But if you want to try to live aboard a ship sailing somewhere like the Caribbean from one of the major cruise lines (which have the most affordable rates), then be prepared to deal with constant crowds.
Mass-market cruise lines like Royal Caribbean or Carnival sail at occupancies over 100% for trips to the Caribbean. This means there are at least two people per cabin, with some rooms sailing with more.
It’s one thing to deal with a busy and crowded cruise ship for a few days. But weeks or months on end may be a different story.
First the good news: Internet access is available on any cruise ship you sail, giving you the ability to connect no matter if you are in port or in the middle of the ocean.
That connection, however, can be hit or miss. On average, you can expect speeds of between 3-5 Mbps, but sometimes weather, location, or traffic can slow those speeds down even further. For reference, the average download speed in the United States on land is estimated close to 200 Mbps for wired connections.
So yes, the speed on the Internet is enough for you to surf the web, stream video, and make video calls, but it can be choppy. And if you were wanting to work while on the ship full-time, it would definitely take more patience than on land.
In our opinion, working while on a cruise is possible in small doses. However, if you were thinking of a “nomad” lifestyle that allows you to work fully from the ship, it’s not quite there just yet.
One great thing is that on a cruise ship there is a lot of variety in what you eat, at least when it comes to the number of options in the middle of the ocean. It’s not unusual for a modern cruise ship to have more than a dozen different restaurants. Of course, smaller ships won’t have as much variety.
What’s underestimated is that even a dozen different restaurants isn’t a lot when you’re eating there every meal for every day. After all, you can’t just whip up a meal in your cabin. And even if you ate at your favorite restaurant for every meal, it would get old after a while.
Plus, we all have our favorite spots that we love to eat, whether it be the pizza joint around the corner or the fine-dining Italian spot downtown. Familiar places that you normally eat on land aren’t going to be part of your diet at sea.
Relationships Are Tough
Part of the appeal of cruising is getting away from it all. That’s actually pretty pleasant for a bit, but what about those people back home?
First, most people who would live full-time on a cruise ship would likely do it solo or with one other person. If you do sail with someone else, that relationship has to be strong enough to endure sharing a small cabin for months at a time.
What might be more difficult, however, is leaving those close relationships behind back on land. Living on a cruise ship means that seeing family and friends isn’t near as simple as just driving over to say hello. You can definitely still keep in touch, but you’d also be missing moments together.
For some people that’s no big deal. For others, not being able to see loved ones for weeks or months at a time could be the hardest part of living on a cruise ship.
It’s Never Really “Your” Space
Ever notice how it feels so good to get back home, even after a vacation that you loved? There is something about being back in your space, sleeping in your own bed, and with all your creature comforts that just can’t be matched in a hotel room or a cruise cabin.
While you can bring some items to make the room feel more like home, it’s always going to feel in some way like you are in a hotel room or in someone’s guest bedroom. For instance, it’s not like you can hang your own artwork or that you’re going to pack the cozy comforter that you use at home.
You Have to Be Ok Without Control
One final drawback of living on a cruise ship long term is that some people could have issues with a lack of control.
Think of a couple that buys an RV and then hits the open road. Want to spend a week exploring Yellowstone? Or head cross-country to see the Smokies? Or maybe you just find a cute town in the middle of nowhere that you want to stay for a few days. You have complete control over where you go and when.
On a cruise, you’re definitely on a pre-arranged schedule (which for many is a big draw), but in most ports it’s going to mean just a few hours at a time exploring and then back on the ship. So even if you find a spot that you really wish you could spend more time in, it’s not up to you.
For many people, the idea of living aboard a cruise ship would be a dream come true. And there is definitely plenty to like about the idea. Being pampered, exploring the world, and doing it all from the comfort of your cabin (instead of planes, trains, and cars) has big appeal.
But it’s absolutely a major lifestyle change that comes with its own set of drawbacks to consider before you sail.