Credit: Shutterstock

Can I live on a cruise ship? What you might not know about full-time life on board

Author: Lucy Abbott

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Cruise ships are the perfect solution to exploring a wide range of destinations from one convenient base, but can you live on one?

Imagine waking up to the idyllic sound of the vast ocean every morning, comfortable in the knowledge that your breakfast is already being prepared and daily activities are at your fingertips.

With no cooking, cleaning or bills to worry about, life on a cruise ship seems idyllic to those who regularly frequent the cruising world.

Many cruise lines provide everything you would need to live comfortably, like Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator and Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, but what about in the long run?

There have been many cruisers who have and still live full time on a cruise ship. Morton Jablin has been living on Regent Seven Seas Navigator for the past 15 years. The 96-year-old leads a simple life, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same place, and is known as ‘captain’ by the crew, according to Forbes.

Yet there may be more than meets the eye to living on a cruise ship. Delve into the details that lie behind living on the water…

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What to pack for a lifetime cruise? Credit: Shutterstock

What's it like living on a cruise ship

What to pack and where to stay

Your first thought when deciding whether to make the permanent move onto a cruise ship is probably the room where you will be staying and how you will bring your life possessions with you.

Remember that in terms of clothing, you will have access to a laundry room as well as having the option to use the laundry services, which can be an extra charge. Keep in mind the size of your wardrobe and only bring the clothes that you regularly wear, remember there will be a chance to purchase some new clothes in the ports of call.

The ability to customise your room is a potential, usually at the discretion of the cruise line, you can bring décor such as pictures and other types of small furniture in order to make your room feel like home.

- READ MORE: What to pack for a cruise holiday -

Maintaining and making new friends

Being a permanent resident on a cruise ship not only means that you get to explore the world from convenient base, but you can also expect that staff onboard will become like a second family. Lifetime cruiser Morton Jablin states that he feels the staff treat him like family and are very kind to him.

It is easy to ensure you stay in touch with family and friends, either with a phone call or video call. Speedy Wi-Fi on both Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator and Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas allows you to stay in touch with loved ones with ease.

Food on board Seven Seas Navigator is varied. Credit: Regent Seven Seas

Food and drink

Lunch offerings are plentiful across cruise ships due to the high number of restaurants onboard, giving you the variety you will crave when cruising full time. Whether you want to relax by the pool with the pool grill or treat yourself to lunch in style, you can please yourself.

In the evening, you have the option of dining in elegance or in a more relaxed atmosphere, which may be preferred with full-time cruisers. Take your pick of multiple different cuisines and chat to fellow cruisers to reflect on your day.

A healthy lifestyle

It is easy to get into a schedule just like you would at home, the beauty of cruising is that you can make it whatever you want it to be. As a result, if you like to schedule your day to your desire, this can be easily done. Alternatively, if you want every day to be different you can achieve this with the varying restaurants, entertainment and meeting new cruisers.

In addition, living on a ship means it is integral to stay fit and healthy by regularly exercising. Most cruise ships offer a gym, a swimming pool and fitness classes, which are also a good place to make new friends and to balance out the delectable desserts that are offered onboard!

- READ MORE: A guide to cruise dining, food and drink guide -


Once you get accustomed to living on a cruise ship, take full advantage and delve into every activity that the ship has to offer, getting constantly involved in the eclectic atmosphere that cruising possesses. Living on a cruise ship full time means that you can try out every activity and witness all the amazing entertainment.

In order to make the most of living on a cruise ship, exploring at the ports of call is essential. Explore countless new locations and experience new cultures, live it up like a local and become knowledgeable about a whole host of locations around the world.

Regent Seven Seas Navigator room, featuring ample space to live in. Credit: Regent Seven Seas

Cruise ships you can live on

Seven Seas Navigator

While being the smallest ship in Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, Seven Seas Navigator is the perfect option for full time living for those who seek an intimate home base with everything included.

This all-inclusive ship holds 245 suites, with almost all featuring balconies and ample space to live in full time.

Seven Seas Navigator ensures you are never left hungry, with mid-afternoon snacks provided as well as the pool grill, which serves snacks all day. 24-hour room service is also available.

- READ MORE: Explore Regent Seven Seas 2023/24 cruises -

Start your day with breakfast, whether this is in the privacy of your own room or satisfy your every craving with one of the many breakfast buffets, such as La Veranda on Regent Seven Seas.

In terms of evening meals, Compass Rose offers European-inspired continental cuisine, whilst La Veranda has regional specialities inspired by the cuisines of the countries called on. For steak-lovers, Prime 7 is a classic steakhouse with a modern twist.

Reach your fitness goals with the ship’s many exercise options. Aerobics, yoga, a fitness centre, gym and jogging track are on offer to help you stay healthy while on board. Off board, you are entitled to a range of free shore excursions meaning you can explore further.

Please click here to browse cruises with ROL Cruise

Fill your day by relaxing by the ships large deck with a pool. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Navigator of the Seas

Experience adventure on a larger ship, Navigator of the Seas which features ample activities to keep you occupied full time.

Whether you are a solo, couple, family or disabled traveller, the ship provides ample sleeping options. For extended families, selected staterooms can be connected, with crib and supplies provided if you are bringing a baby.

Fill your day by relaxing by the ships large deck with a pool, meaning you can lounge or keep fit, depending on how you feel. Alternatively, spend time streaming with Voom surf, available at a supplement, and stream, which the line claims to be the fastest internet at sea.

- READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Navigator of the Seas -

For those seeking a fast-paced life, waterslides and rollercoasters are at your fingertips, ready for you to experience however many times you please.

All of your food options are covered with Navigator of the Seas’ extensive dining options. Whether you fancy seafood, Italian, Mexican, American-diner food or sushi, variety is guaranteed with the line. Starbucks is also on board for coffee lovers. Keep in mind that speciality dining will incur a fee.

Twenty-four-hour room service is provided, to satisfy those midnight cravings just like you would at home.

Find out more on ROL Cruise.

There are some additional costs to take into account when living on a cruise ship. Credit: Shutterstock

How much it costs to live on a cruise ship

Hidden costs

There are some additional costs to take into account when living on a cruise ship. Taxes and port fees, if not included, are an additional cost. Gratuities are an expected payment across varying cruise lines, which is usually a set amount per day that goes to the staff.

There are also sometimes extra costs for speciality dining experiences and spa treatments. Onshore activities arranged by the cruise ship are also an additional cost, but if you are looking to save money in the long term, take yourself around the ports for free.

Alcohol and other special beverages are sometimes not included, meaning full time living may be cheaper without having a drink every night.

Keeping fit may be more difficult when some lines charge extra for fitness classes, such as Pilates and yoga. Instead, try completing laps in the pool and getting your steps in walking around the deck.

- READ MORE: How to save money when booking a cruise holiday -

If the cruise line does not offer self-service laundry machines, you may be faced with a laundry charge, which can add up when living on a ship full time. Instead, wash your clothes in your own facilities or ensure that laundry is included.

Lastly, Wi-Fi is an integral element of living full time on a cruise ship in order to maintain contact with family and friends at home. Wi-Fi may not be included, meaning it will be easy to run up a large bill.

How much does it cost?

The price of making a cruise ship your home will very much depend on the cruise line. However, according to research carried out by cruise website Cruzely, which looked at living on Carnival Cruise Line ship Carnival Horizon, residing onboard for a whole year can come to around £128,000.

The fare itself makes up the majority of the cost at about £76,000 each year. Estimated onboard spending is the next highest cost at circa £34,000 yearly, port fees are approximately £10,500 and gratuities come to around £7,500 annually.

Find out more about cruising with ROL Cruises here.

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About Lucy Abbott

Lucy is a cruise journalist who has sailed on a variety of ships, from expedition to river – with her favourite being expedition cruising.

Lucy is interested in new sustainable ways to cruise as well as how cruising is becoming accessible for all.

She works together with Kaye Holland to keep the World of Cruising website up to date with all the latest cruise news.