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Compare Travel Insurance Media Room Grey nomads cruise into retiremen

Grey Nomads Cruise into retirement

18 February, 2018 By Crystal Moran

More retirees are choosing the top deck of a cruise ship over staying at home or entering an assisted-living centre.

New research from show that one in ten people aged 65 and older will go on a cruise this year, and more than 30% said they would consider long-term cruising over staying at home, a retirement village or low-intensity aged care.

Natalie Ball, director of says,

“Seniors are living longer and research shows they are becoming more, not less active in their retirement. They want to make friends, learn skills and see the world. It seems that those playing Bridge would prefer to do it with a mojito in the middle of the Pacific.”

The tip of the iceberg

This cohort has felt the squeeze – today’s baby boomers are often left caring for their elderly parents whilst their adult children stay home for longer. With meals, cleaning and activities included, wheelchair accessibility and a doctor on board 24/7, it’s easy to grasp why many seniors see year-round cruising as superior to the retirement their parents experienced.

The ABS projects that by 2040, the number of people 65 and over will double to 6.8 million, and Ball says it suggests we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to long-term cruising.

“Last year, over 35% of the million Aussies who boarded a cruise were 65 or older. While cruise lines are keen to buck the ‘newlywed or nearly dead’ mantra, the last baby boomers will reach retirement by the end of the next decade, and increasingly they are looking for solutions tailored to them.”

A growing number of cruise ships are responding to this, with leading brands booking out round-the-world trips years in advance, and enterprising cruise liners offering long-term rental or ownership options, specifically targeted to seniors.

“With someone else doing the cooking and cleaning, long-term cruising offers retirees the chance to see the world and engage in a rich social life; it’s clear why so many are considering it over a ‘traditional’ retirement.”

Considering a sea change?

Assisted-living costs can vary wildly. If you have a low income and choose a low-care, Government-subsidised place, you may only pay the basic daily fee, which is regulated at 85% of the aged pension ($50 a day). As your income and assets rise, you may also be subject to a means-tested care fee, an accommodation payment, and an extra services payment, which can end upwards of $200 a day. You can pay anything from $0-$73,000+ a year.

Just as there is no one way to retire, there’s no one way to cruise. While top-of-the-line suites can be in the hundreds of thousands, if you prefer spending your day outside and aren’t worried about having an interior cabin, round-the-world trips of 100 days or more cost as little as $20,000. This means you can travel around the world with meals, transport, accommodation and activities for under $75,000 a year.

Depending on your circumstances, you may or may not be saving money, but you will certainly have some unbeatable stories to tell the grandkids!

Not all rosÉs and quoits

Remember that living at sea isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering it over staying at home, a retirement village or assisted-living centre, Ball says getting advice on your finances, health and family priorities is a must.

“Run the numbers, and be sure to talk to your doctor, your family and an independent financial adviser. Good financial advice now can save you money and heartache later.”

Long-term cruising can be an expensive way to live, particularly if you’re a single traveller and want a private room. You’re also away from family and friends, and at-sea phone or Wi-Fi bills can quickly add up. Ball says it’s also not something you can do if you need help managing your health.

“While the crew to customer ratio is often 1:3 – far superior to many assisted-living centres – staff generally aren’t qualified to assist with complex health concerns or the delivery of medication.”

Weather the storm with good insurance

It’s not all plain sailing if you fall ill on a cruise. Depending on the severity of your accident or illness, you may be left in a strange hospital in a foreign land, or even evacuated by helicopter – certainly an ordeal to go through for an older traveller.

With this in mind, Ball says that if you’re considering long-term cruising, it’s wise to do your research to find a good travel insurance policy.  Shop around and always check the Product Disclosure Statement for exclusions that may apply.

“Some insurers may specifically exclude cruising or have it as an add-on. Many do not cover pre-existing conditions, have limited medical cover for those over 80, or may charge a significant excess for seniors. Check the policy carefully before you buy, so you can set sail with peace of mind.”

Contributor Crystal Moran

Crystal Moran

With a research and journalism background, and certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice, Crystal is passionate about investigating customers’ tricky travel questions and helping them find the answers they’re looking for. A writer and filmmaker whose favourite trips have been to film festivals in Cuba and South Korea, and campervanning around the USA, she loves getting to know new people and seeing a glimpse of the world through their eyes.

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