For Australia natives Marty and Jess Ansen, the vacation never ends.
The retired Brisbane couple told A Current Affair they have scheduled 51 back-to-back cruise journeys onboard Princess Cruises since they first set sail in June 2022 — and they don’t plan to disembark any time soon.
The Ansens have already spent nearly the last 500 days living at sea as part of their 795-day voyage.
But Marty and Jess didn’t make the unconventional decision to live at sea simply because they enjoy a pleasure cruise; the married couple said it is ultimately cheaper to live on cruise ships than it is to pay for a retirement or nursing home.
On a Princess Cruise, the great-grandparents enjoy the typical, relaxing cruise environment, while also benefiting from the services that ensure their meals are always prepared and their room cleaned daily.
Jess said the decision to live on cruises is a “lifestyle.” The couple often indulge in the entertainment onboard — Jess is particularly fond of hula and ballroom dancing — while they see the world and meet new friends.
In a joint statement to People magazine, the Ansens said that while on a cruise they “don’t have to worry about paying for rent or a mortgage, getting groceries or doing your laundry.”
“We’re not young people,” they continued. “Cruising is much cheaper than going to a nursing home and means we can continue to travel the world.”
The Ansens said they often sail more than the cruise ship employees.
“We welcome the different captains onboard,” Jess laughed.
The Ansens’ love of cruising isn’t new. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple embarked on 31 cruise voyages and spent nearly 1,200 days on the water. Since they could not cruise during lockdown, the Ansens said they’re making up for lost time.
“I said to my agent, whatever comes, just book it,” Marty said. “That’s how it got to be such a long cruise.”
The Ansens said they are at a stage where they just want to enjoy the rest of their lives, and they hope to do it while cruising.
Can you really live on a cruise ship?
The Ansens are not the only people to make the choice to live onboard a cruise ship. Over the last few years, reports have emerged of several people opting to cruise for extended periods or retire entirely onboard, because it is apparently cheaper than buying property or paying rent.
Some cruise lines have even tried to capitalize on the trend, like Miray Cruises, which this year sold tickets to a three-year voyage through 135 countries and 375 ports. The voyage begins in Istanbul, Turkey in November. A single ticket started at US$29,999 per year (over C$41,200) and reached up to US$109,000 a year (about C$149,700), depending on the cruising package.
According to Rentals.ca, the average asking rent price in Canada reached a record high of $2,117 per month in August 2023.
A report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation revealed the average cost of senior housing (defined as 1.5 hours or more of care per day) in Canada was $3,075 per month in 2021, totalling nearly $37,000 a year.
The cost of cruise ship tickets varies drastically from just under $1,000 for short-term, budget-friendly cruises, to more lavish, long-term voyages that can cost thousands of dollars.