Life at Sea: The Dream of Living on a Long-Term Cruise

Crucero residencial o crucero a largo plazo | Long-term cruise or residential cruise

Why settle down in a retirement home when you could live your golden years at sea? True stories abound of retired couples taking their savings to go from one short-term cruise ship to another. Their popularity has seemingly created the demand for longer-lasting voyages. Could you embark on a long-term or permanent cruise?

These are not urban myths or fantasies. Couples like the Ansons, the Burks, and the Sorokers have rejected the traditional way of settling down in favor of enjoying an all-inclusive lifestyle all the time. Some even claim their choice has saved them money.

Ready to escape to the sea for a long time? Here are the most popular and most trending long-term cruise options.

A Nine-Month World Cruise

The shorter and most recent of the long-term cruises guarantees to be memorable. Late this year, Royal Caribbean is scheduled to launch its Ultimate World Cruise. Passengers on the Serenade of the Seas will sail for 274 nights on a journey across more than 60 countries with 150 destinations and visits to 11 top world landmarks.

Imagine sailing for nine months to discover sites like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, the stone-carved city of Petra, Iguazu Falls, the Pyramids of Giza, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Coloseum in Rome, Chichén-Itzá, and more.

The Ultimate World Cruise is divided into four segments, which you can reserve individually or as a whole. You can book the whole trip for around 60,000 dollars, which is way less than a Disney-themed private jet trip around the world.

The Original Residential Cruise

Want your address to be the ocean? With all the recent news regarding long term cruises, it may come as a surprise that the concept is hardly new. As it turns out, Earth’s largest private residence yacht has been sailing the seas since 2002. Appropriately named The World, this 644-foot (196-meter) vessel encompasses 165 individual residences.

The World functions like a floating gated community at sea. Only around 200 people are on board at any given time, not counting staff and crew. Passage requires purchasing any of the ship’s individual residences or receiving a guest referral by one of the owners. Prices for a piece of this floating real estate start at two million dollars.

The World has inspired similar companies such as Victoria Cruises and Storylines to develop their own residential cruises.

Three Years Living at Sea

Maybe you’re not the homeowner type, especially if that home tends to not stay put anywhere. Villa Vie Residences offers those looking for something more akin to a rental, with all the benefits of a long-term cruise.

The recently purchased Villa Vie Odyssey, scheduled to set sail in May 2024, will transport passengers to 425 destinations across 147 countries during a 1,301-day period. That equals more than three-and-a-half years living at sea.

Unlike other residential cruises, Villa Vie Residences includes both an ownership option and a pay-as-you-go one. This means that you can book all 16 segments of the journey starting at 232 thousand dollars, not including available discounts.

The Dark Side of the Long-Term Cruise

Like investing in a home or planning a long vacation, risks exist as well in the residential and long-term cruise market. The top reason why the concept is trending has to do with the colossal failure of the three-year venture known as Life at Sea.

Miray Cruises, a Turkish-based company operating cruise ships since 2012, made headlines when it announced its Life at Sea expedition, which promised a three-year luxury residential experience through the world’s oceans starting at less than 200 thousand dollars.

Many people invested their hard-earned savings to be a part of this voyage. Some even sold their home, hoping never to look back. Many flew to Istanbul without a return ticket, in preparation to embark on the cruise which was to set sail this past November. Most were left stranded there.

Abandon Ship

The problem according to recent news reports is that Miray Cruises failed to secure a ship in time for their planned tour. They were to use one of their available ships, the MV Gemini, but decided against it because of safety concerns.

They then announced they would acquire the AIDAaura, a ship they would retrofit for the trip and rename the MV Lara. However, another cruise company beat them to the purchase, which forced them to cancel their 36-month journey.

Miray representatives have promised to refund would-be passengers and cover their hotel expenses. As a result of Miray’s mishandling of the project, several Life at Sea employees left the company to start Villa Vie Residences.

Long-Term Cruise Questions

So was Life at Sea a scam? Are all residential and long-term cruises also fraudulent by the same metric? Miray’s folly seems more a product of bad judgement and poor planning rather than malicious intent. Their case was a fluke within a well-established industry with many players. If you do your homework before you decide to invest in a residential cruise, you should be fine. 

Are these journeys safe? About as safe as any other cruise. Incidents and accidents happen, of course, but following safety protocols when necessary and using common sense the rest of the time usually guarantees a safe and enjoyable time.

The most important question of all: should you choose to live in a cruise? Only you can answer this. Can you afford it? Are you sure you’re fit enough (physically and mentally) to withstand life on a ship? Before you commit to a long-term cruise, we suggest you book a shorter one for a week or a month. If afterwards you decide that residential or long-term cruises are the life for you, welcome aboard!