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

Living on a cruise ship isn’t cheap but is possible if you have the funds. If you are planning on taking an extended trip or perhaps even living on cruise ships for most of the year, it is important to know all of the costs involved.

How much does it cost to live on a cruise ship? An average passenger will spend approximately $213 per day to live on a cruise ship. For someone living on a cruise ship full time, the estimated total expenses would be around $77,000 to $79,000 per year. 

Read on to learn more about how much it costs to live on a cruise ship, including the cost for different cruise ships.

What Is the Average Cost of Passengers Living on a Cruise Ship?

There are two basic items that passengers have to pay for if they want to live on a cruise ship.

  1. Passenger Ticket – Passengers need to, of course, purchase a ticket to be able to get on board a cruise liner. Passenger tickets are the biggest revenue of all cruise liners.
  2. Onboard Expenses – If you want to enjoy your cruise, you will have to purchase food, all sorts of sundry items, as well as various services while you are on board. Cruise liners also get much of their revenue from the onboard spending of their passengers. It is one of the reasons why there are so many amenities and all kinds of fun activities aboard cruise ships.

Now that you know the basic cruise ship expenses, here are some real-life statistics that will show you how much an average passenger spends while living on a cruise ship.

Cruise ships offer so many options to their passengers in terms of accommodations, length of cruise, food, services, and so forth. So, how much money you are going to spend will depend a lot on your choices. However, to get a handle on our topic, I will give you an average viewpoint.

According to, the average amount that a passenger in a cruise ship spends in a day is about $212.80. The average ticket price would be about $161.26, and the onboard spending is around $62.16. These amounts will be the average expense per day if the average length of the cruise is eight days.

Here is a detailed breakdown of the average expense of a passenger on a typical cruise:

  • Ticket – $1,293
  • Onboard Spending $498

Total Expenses – $1,791

Onboard spending can be broken down into these average costs:

  • Spa Services – $50
  • Shore Excursions – $100
  • Casino and Bar – $274

Total Expenses – $498

Additional Expenses If You Live on a Cruise Ship

cruise ship living expenses

While living on a ship, you will be hiring special services occasionally. For this reason, you should also earmark at least $10 worth of tips per day for requested services. Here are some more examples where you will be spending your money on board a cruise ship:

1. Onboard Shopping

There are many shops and stores on cruise ships that will entice you to spend your hard-earned dollar. These items range from T-shirts, jewelry, perfume, wines, beverages, and all sorts of small consumer items. Liquor is oftentimes sold at low prices on cruise liners.

Some passengers set aside around $1,500 (excluding tickets) for bottles of liquor, two shore excursions, jewelry purchases, and daily drinks. However, it is also quite possible to spend only $500 with just a few keepsakes but no shore excursions. If that’s your option, set aside at least $125 to $150 per day.

2. Drinks

Set aside around $6 to $7 a day for the drinks you will consume if you want to live onboard a cruise ship. If the cruise ship has a “drink of the day” promo every day, that drink will cost you about $4. Soda also will cost you several dollars. Some cruise lines offer their sodas at $20 to $30 for a one-week cruise.

3. Spa

There will be times on your cruise that you will want to be pampered in a spa. Prices for a spa service can vary widely. If you plan to go to a spa a couple of times during your cruise, set aside around $100 for each visit. Some cruise ships also offer spa packages. If you are really awash with cash, you can be spending $2,000 for spa services alone.

4. Casino

A casino on a cruise ship is just the same as a casino on land. They also have tables for high rollers and slots for the ordinary gambler. Occasional gamblers could be spending around $50 playing the slots daily for one week. The cheapest is the 25-cent slot machine, and the most expensive are the poker tables, where you can pay from $1 to as high as $10.

How the Cost of Living Varies from One Cruise Ship to Another

The exact amount that you will spend living on a cruise ship varies from ship to ship. Here are some real numbers from the three biggest earners among the most popular cruise liners today. These numbers were taken from the 2018 financial reports of three big cruise liners.

The biggest revenue per passenger was earned by the Norwegian Cruise Line. Its ticket revenue per passenger amounted to $1,488.61, while its onboard revenue per passenger was $653.41.

The second biggest revenue earner per passenger is the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Its ticket revenue for each passenger was $1,094.42, while its onboard income per passenger was $427.26.

The third highest income earner per passenger is the Carnival Cruise Line. Its ticket revenue per passenger was $1,067.11, while its revenue for onboard spending is $356.97 per passenger.

Although Norwegian has the biggest revenue in terms of passenger spending, it was not the biggest overall revenue earner in 2018. It is, in fact, the lowest earner of the three across the board.

Carnival reported the highest total revenue in 2018, with ticket sales at $12.94 billion and onboard revenue of $4.33 billion.

Second is the Royal Caribbean, which posted a total of $6.31 billion for passenger ticket sales and $2.46 for passenger onboard spending.

The lowest among the big three, the Norwegian, only recorded a total of $3.75 billion in ticket sales and only $1.65 billion in onboard spending.

In analyzing these figures, you might be tempted to say that Norwegian charges its passengers more than the other two cruise liners. This is not the case because the above figures are based only on the number of passengers. It is not on a per-day basis.

Remember that the duration of cruise trips is usually different from each other. There are short one-week cruises, two-week cruises, and those that are even longer. In other words, if a cruise liner offers short cruises or trips, the average expenses of each passenger are also lower.

Additionally, the Carnival figures given above include several of its cruise liners. What is revealed by these figures, though, is that of the average expenses of each passenger on an average cruise. The figures also provide you with an overall picture of what you are bound to spend in one day aboard a cruise liner.

The biggest factor that made the difference was the number of passengers that each cruise ship carried. Carnival carried a total of 12.13 million passengers in 2018. Royal Caribbean carried 5.77 million people. Norwegian carried the fewest number of passengers at only 2.52 million.

The lesson here is that when choosing a cruise liner, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the smallest offers the lowest in passenger prices. In fact, these figures show that the biggest cruise ships offer the lowest prices. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that boarding the liners of Carnival is less expensive than boarding the vessels of Norwegian.

In the cruise liner industry, economies of scale are not the only factor that influences passenger expenditures.

Is It Cheaper for Seniors to Live in a Cruise Ship Instead of an Assisted Living Facility?

Are you approaching your age of retirement? If you are, it’s time for you to think about your options. Most seniors find themselves in assisted living institutions or nursing homes. However, you have the option to choose and live on a cruise ship for the rest of your days. How does living in a cruise ship living compare with an assisted living?

In a nutshell, assisted living is a type of living condition for seniors who cannot or choose not to live independently. Those who choose this kind of living are housed in a facility or an assisted living residence, where their needs are provided by trained staff. Seniors or their families pay a specific fee to stay in these residences.

How Does Cruise Ship Living Compare with an Assisted Living?

assisted living vs cruise ship living

1. On Average, Cruise Ship Living Is Less Expensive than Assisted Living

In a majority of cases, living in a cruise ship is cheaper than living in an assisted living facility. Based on a survey conducted by Genworth Cost of Care in 2019, the average cost per month for a senior’s stay in an assisted living residence is approximately $4,051. That will bring up the cost to $45,000 per year. On a per night basis, that will be roughly $123.

There are cruise lines that charge only $779 for a 12-night cruise going to the Southern Caribbean. That practically translates to just $65 per night. If you are a senior accompanied by your partner, who is also a senior, he or she will be qualified for a 50 percent discount. That would significantly lower your cost of cruise ship living.

If you are able to find booking rewards, which cruise ship companies most often offer to their customers, you can keep your costs even lower. Moreover, if you choose not to get the pricey extras, such as shore excursions, wines, and drinks, your living cost will even go down further.

2. Amenities in a Cruise Ship Are Better than Assisted Living Residences

Assisted living facilities are different from nursing homes as they don’t provide extensive nursing care such as bathing, using the restroom, eating food, and even drinking. In these residences, they are only provided cursory care.

Seniors in assisted living facilities have their own rooms or apartments. They receive limited help from the staff, such as transportation, housekeeping services, meal services, management of medications, and entertainment.

All of these amenities are provided on a cruise ship–only better. Food is available every hour of the day. Social activities are part and parcel of cruising. There are infirmaries and pharmacy services on board where doctors and nurses provide medical assistance to those who need it. Medical staff is always available 24/7, especially for emergencies.

3. You Have More Independence in a Cruise Ship than in Assisted Living Residences

You are able to move more freely on a cruise ship than in an assisted living facility. If you are not fond of having someone checking on you daily or hourly, then cruise living is your best option.

If you are really the adventurous type who wants to see the world, you can even transfer from one cruise ship to another. You can get the best prices while being able to go wherever you want to go.

However, be aware that not all cruise ships allow long-time residents onboard. But many cruise liners accept this kind of arrangement for seniors who want to be long-term passengers. They allow seniors to remain with their ship for months and some even years at a time.

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

So, to revisit our initial question: “How much does it cost to live on a cruise ship?” It costs, on average, $213 per day to live on a cruise ship. Living on a cruise ship is a good option for seniors. It costs less to live on a cruise ship than it does to live in an assisted living residence.

Cruise Liners get their revenue from their passengers. The highest income they get from their passengers is passenger tickets. Aside from the tickets, cruise ships also earn additional income from their passengers through different means.

When you add up all of the things that a passenger spends in order to board a cruise ship, enjoy its amenities, experience fun on board, and visit tourist spots, you will know how much money you need to set aside.

Consider the advice and info in this article when deciding whether you can afford to live on a cruise ship or not. It is possible with careful financial planning and budgeting.

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