How Much Does It Cost to Live On a Cruise Ship?

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If you’ve ever watched The Suite Life of Zack and Cody spin-off – The Suite Life on Deck – you may be familiar with living on a cruise ship. You might wonder how true it is and whether you can live on a cruise ship. The truth is, yes, you can totally live on a cruise ship.

The idea of living on a cruise ship for a year or two is very appealing to some, especially remote workers or people in retirement. You don’t have to take care of your own dwelling, there are plenty of things to do on board, and you get to travel the world. 

However, before selling your home and choosing a life at sea, there are important things to know about what it’s like living on a cruise ship – including the costs. How much does it cost to live on a cruise ship? Would it cost you more or less than your current cost of living?

This article will answer these questions and more to give you the complete picture of what it’s like to live on a cruise ship to help you determine whether this is an affordable feat for you.

How Much Does It Cost to Live on a Cruise Ship?

First things first: how much does it cost to live on a cruise ship? The answer largely depends on a variety of factors. The main factors that influence the cost of living on a cruise ship include the following:

  • The cruise line you choose
  • The specific cruise ship you choose
  • The lifestyle you expect to live
  • The cabin you choose to live in

Considering all these factors, the cruise fare for living on a cruise ship can cost anywhere from $60,000 per year to upwards of $150,000.

However, knowing what you get and where you spend your money is important. Let’s look at what you can expect to spend your money on when living on a cruise ship.

What You’ll Spend Money on Living on a Cruise Ship

Now that you know how much it costs to live on a cruise ship, it’s time to get more specific with these costs. 

Living on a cruise ship is generally expensive, so knowing where you’ll spend the most money before embarking on this adventure is a good idea. Here are the top things you can expect to spend money on if you choose to live on a cruise ship.

Room and Board

Room and board will be the most significant expense on any cruise, especially if you choose to live on a cruise ship for an extended amount of time. 

You could find a room for $150 per night and look for special deals and promotions. Otherwise, on large cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line, you’re more likely to spend $350-$450 per night on a room. This translates to over $125,000 per year!

Luxury Cruise Ship Cabin
Luxury Cruise Ship Cabin (Photo Credit: Benson Truong / Shutterstock)

The only good thing is that this price is for at least a double occupancy cabin, which is the majority of the cabins on a cruise. So if you plan on staying with a partner and splitting the costs, you only pay half of that. However, that is still significantly more than you would spend to live even in the biggest American cities.

Port Fees and Taxes

Just because you’re cruising does not mean you are exempt from paying any tax!

Every cruise line will tack on port fees to the total cost of your cruise. Cruise ships don’t get to dock at these destinations for free. Port fees are fees charged by the port of call to the cruise line, which they then pass onto the passengers. Port fees are charged based on the passengers, and every passenger pays the same fees. 

Docked Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com

Not all ports charge the same amount for port fees. These fees vary based on your cruise line and where your cruise ship stops in different countries.

Worth Reading: How Much Does an Alaskan Cruise Cost? – What to Budget

On a seven-day cruise, you can expect your port fees to range from $100 to $250. If you spend a year on a cruise ship, you can expect to pay an additional $5,000 to cover port fees. You’ll be able to see the cost of port fees in your total cost before you’re asked to pay your deposit. 

Gratuities

While gratuities are not a mandatory fee, if you plan on spending a year on a cruise ship where the crew will get to know you well, you’ll want to pay them. 

Some cruise ships tack on automatic gratuity that ranges from 15% to 20% of whatever service you paid for, whether it be dinner or the spa. Depending on how much you plan on using amenities on the ship, this cost can quickly add up.

Everyday Spending

Finally, you’ll want to consider what you’ll spend onboard the ship. There are a lot of additional places where you’ll spend money on a cruise ship. These include Wi-Fi, restaurants, shopping onboard or at the port, drinks, clothes, and medical care.

The Haven Sun Deck
The Haven Sun Deck

It’s worth considering that the price of these items is a lot more on a cruise ship than they are at your local diners or stores. While you may not be interested in shore excursions if you’re living on your cruise, you should consider these as well.

Living on a cruise ship can be very pricey. However, a few different cruise ships are specifically meant for people to live on. Let’s check them out. 

Cruises You’re Meant to Live On

A few cruise ships made for a permanent living have recently popped up. Here are a few of those cruise ships, including The World, MS Utopia, Somnio, and MV Narrative. Currently, the only one of these cruise ships in operation is The World, which launched in 2022.

The World Ship
The World Ship (Photo Credit: Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock)

If you’re wondering how much it costs to sail on The World cruise, fares start at $66,000 for 2024. This makes it potentially significantly more affordable and less of a hassle than living on a ship from a major cruise line. 

The other cruise ships are projected to set sail in 2023 to 2026 and will hopefully provide additional affordable permanent cruise living options.

Living on a Cruise Ship Costs FAQ

Which cruise ships can you live on?

You can technically live on any cruise ship; however, it may take some tactical planning to ensure that you can book the same cabin repeatedly and at the most affordable rate. If you want to live on ships from major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean or Carnival, you must book your cruise and cabin months in advance. It’s also a good idea to book longer cruises that span weeks to minimize the amount of planning you must do. 

Can you live on a cruise ship permanently?

Thanks to the launch of The World cruise ship and other upcoming residence cruise ships, it’s becoming easier than ever to live permanently on a cruise ship. The perks of cruise ships specifically designed for permanent residence is that they are more affordable than attempting to do the same with regular cruise lines designed for short-term vacation. 

How much does an average person spend on a cruise ship daily?

Much of the costs of your cruise are settled before you even get onboard, especially if you’ve opted for an all-inclusive option. That said, the average person should expect to spend $50-$100 in additional costs per day on their cruise. However, there may be additional expenses based on your lifestyle and what you choose to do on the cruise. This includes drinks and casino spending, not to mention the money you may spend at the ports. 

Conclusion: Is Living on a Cruise Ship Affordable?

As a main takeaway, living on a cruise ship will be more expensive than how you live your everyday life now. That’s because most cruise ships are designed for short-term vacations and high turnovers, which forms the basis for their prices.

Read Also: Best Cruise Lines for Adults

However, if you have a partner to share your cabin with, the cost of a stateroom can be split between you, significantly reducing the overall costs. 

Finally, you can always opt for a cruise ship designed for permanent living, where costs will be more reasonable for a long-term stay. With more and more of these cruise ships on the rise, it’s definitely something to consider!

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