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Retiring on a Cruise: This couple won't be returning to land

Retiring on a Cruise: This couple won't be returning to land

This article is translated from CTV News content.

In these moments of pain, after having to cope with the loss of a friend who died suddenly after suffering a stroke, the retired Canadian couple knew they wanted to take advantage of everything life has to offer, without any regrets.

For them, there was no better way to do this than living on cruise ships. So, in late 2022, they sold their home in Brighton, Ontario, did some research, obtained travel visas and began their journey.

They are part of a growing trend of people choosing to retire at sea.

“We see it as a less expensive way to travel the world,” Ms. Carter said in a phone interview with “We want to do it now, while we're still healthy.”

To date, Ms. Carter, 54, a retired high school teacher, and Mr. Rickman, 50, a retired factory supervisor, have visited 75 countries and territories. By April 30, 2024, they hope to reach 88.

Floating city

To take advantage of what different cruises have to offer, the couple said they enjoy “hopping from one cruise to another.”

“The cruise ship has so much to offer. It's a destination in itself.”

-Tori Carter

This year alone, the couple has visited the United States, the Panama Canal, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Antarctica, Costa Rica and many other destinations.

Tori Carter's fondest memories include seeing Rickman float in the Dead Sea in Israel and seeing Santa Claus delivering gifts to cruise passengers on a ship. flexibleAny boat used to maintain or support ships or other boats.

The couple says they book five to six months in advance. Next year, Carter and Rickman will visit Brazil, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and more.

“We see the world and everything is exciting,” Mr. Rickman said.

Own a home at sea

For John Hennessy, 75, and Melody Hennessy, 63, retiring at sea was a natural fit.

This American couple were sailors most of the time, spending three to four months each summer in Bahamian waters. After selling their home and business in Florida in March 2021 to travel in an RV, the couple traveled to the Baja California Peninsula, Canada and Alaska. Then they sold their property Camping car And I started going on cruises.

When they discovered Storylines, a residential cruise line, the couple signed a two-year lease to stay on the ship Narrative video clipa cruise ship scheduled to depart at the end of 2026.

“It is so special to live this dream every day,” the couple wrote in an email to “As owners of a residence on board the ship Narrative video clip From Storyline, we'll spend three to five days in each port and really be able to explore the destinations to their fullest (six to eight hours is much better).

Is retiring at sea less expensive than retiring on land?

According to online estimates, the cost of sailing full-time for a year ranges from about $40,000 to more than $150,000.

Costs can vary from ship to ship and depend on individual needs, Carter and Rickman say. They try to find the best deals and opt for cruises on old ships, but Carter said the costs can add up and be much higher than the cost of buying a house.

“You have the basic cost of the cruise, but you need to include shipping, taxes, travel insurance, transportation from cruise port to cruise port, Wi-Fi, daily gratuities, excursions, drinks, and flights,” she says.

Ms. Carter notes that other costs to consider include paying for a cell phone plan, an eSIM plan, haircuts, nail trims, and daily affairs.

To ensure coverage, they return to Canada from time to time to maintain access to the country's public health system. Under Ontario's health insurance coverage policy, residents can stay out of the country for seven months within a 12-month period to be covered, Carter said.

The retired duo, who previously worked as real estate agents in the Greater Toronto Area, said they worked hard to afford to live the way they wanted.

“Most of that money comes from selling a house,” Ms. Carter and Mr. Rickman say, adding that investments and retirement funds also contribute to their full-time journey. “We are also not big spenders and watch our budget.”

For Hennessey residents, full-time cruising is less expensive than it was when they lived ashore. They estimate they are likely to spend half of what they were paying.

“Living aboard is a much less expensive lifestyle than when we lived on land and had mortgages, insurance, property taxes, meals, beverages, vehicle fees, electric and gas bills,” they said.

Lifestyle changes and challenges

Choosing to cruise full-time comes with some sacrifices, Carter and Rickman say. They gave up driving, cooking, cycling and more space. Carter pointed to the constant changing of time zones as another challenge.

To maintain the same lifestyle habits as they had at home, the couple said they carefully monitored their diet, exercised daily and participated in educational activities such as exams.

The Hennessy also reduces their meals and drinks to the ground. The American couple said they would avoid flying if possible. “We prefer to sail one at a time to reduce the number of bags that need to be packed and unpacked,” they wrote.

Connecting with family is another adjustment one must make if they choose to cruise full time. “I call my mom every day,” Carter says, citing WhatsApp as the best line of communication and the cost of Wi-Fi when traveling the world. Bigger adjustments include missing important family events and holidays, such as when Ms. Carter said she could not return to London, Ont., to celebrate her mother's 80th birthday last month.

In cruise culture, friendships are like a revolving door. “It's as if you meet acquaintances from all over the world and make friends and some of them keep in touch with you,” she added.

Last month, Carter said they hooked up with another couple on a cruise. “When you meet new people, you have this fire inside you that is inspired by people's stories. It's unbelievable,” Ms. Carter says.

With trips planned throughout 2024, Carter and Rickman are making an unforgettable impression as they travel the world's shores, one port at a time. The Hennessy family, and many other retirees, are in the same boat.

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