“I Could Never Do Residential Cruising”

A friend and I were talking about my plans to move to a Residential Cruise ship with my husband. She grasped immediately all the benefits we’d receive with that lifestyle change — and she listed them for me!

She pointed out that the cabins are just perfect for our new life because we won’t spend that much time in them, we’d have a variety of entertainment options, interesting dining options, we wouldn’t have to do the planning or prep or cleanup of meal creation, a gym, and lots of easy-access activities.

I Could Never Do That

Yet she paused and lamented she “could never do that.” I asked why she thought that. Her answer was interesting, and in direct contrast to the benefits she had just recited. Another issue she felt she’d have was anxiety of getting cabin fever or claustrophobia. I added that we also had internet so we could keep working, and that the various activities didn’t involve getting in the car to drive to them or to look for parking.

“Oh, I’m single and get antsy when I don’t have a fully planned weekend, I have a job, and a 3-year-old dog.”

It’s interesting how we see possibilities for others but miss them for ourselves.

If you think you couldn’t live on a Residential Cruise ship, whether you are single or not, stop to think about what’s really offered.

Let’s explore these points to see if you can open your mind to other ways of living.

Small Cabins

Typically, the three lower cabin options range in size from about 180 to 300 square feet. The top of that range has a veranda/deck which adds about 50 square feet to your living space. Cabins are for sleeping, hygiene, dressing, and personal time.

From personal experience, I can tell you that you can do all those things in the given space. How? You have the rest of the ship to augment that space. Decks and halls for walking, spaces for working out and getting your hair done, a variety of dining venues to fit any diet need, a gym and pool (or 3), an auditorium for lectures, movies, and concerts, and in many cases even an office space you can use. Think about having a “2,400” square foot cabin instead of a 200 square foot cabin to ease the transition.


The only planning you need to do is to decide which event to go to and at what time. That’s not so different from your life now, is it? Well, the commute to the entertainment choice doesn’t involve traffic or parking to speak of, so you just scored spare time!

The auditoriums are more comfortable than most people’s personal TV spaces, another bonus. I hear people brag about their new, large screens. Their screens aren’t as big as what the ship offers, most likely. And, you get to share this with your new and developing friends. That’s a score!

Dining Options

This varies tremendously from ship to ship, but in general there are fine dining to fast food and everything in between for you to choose from. I realized how excited I was when it occurred to me that I wouldn’t have to make my own smoothies anymore, and could get fresh and variable drinks every morning with no shopping, washing, chopping, or blending, much less any cleanup. As if I didn’t have enough exciting reasons to look forward to my new cruising life.

And even if you live alone, you don’t have to dine alone. You can invite friends to join you, or sit at the community table, if there is one.

Working Out

Woman leaning on cruise ship railing looking at the landscape.
Or just enjoy seeing something new every day. (ben o’bro via Unsplash)

While many people do have workout equipment at home, and some even have pools, these options are maintained and upgraded on a ship without any effort on your part. You get a workout walking to the gym, yoga room, or pool, too.

Like at the gym where you may have a membership, the ship’s gym will have trainers there to help you learn how to use the equipment and to watch to make sure you’re doing it right. The pool may have a lifeguard, and probably hot tubs nearby — a great bonus, in my opinion.


Each ship approaches activities for residents differently. I’ve seen golf, skeet, shuffleboard, and classes like art or computers on various ships. You can participate or not, as you see fit. There are dances and parties you can partake in, if the mood suits you.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you could create your own activities that other residents can participate in.


Some, but not all, ships allow pets that fit specified parameters. That inclusion makes for a perfect living situation for you if keeping a pet with you is important.

I was excited by that option until I realized my husband is allergic to cats; his allergies are part of why we are making this change. So, my old girl is just going to have to breathe her last breath before I move.


Cabin fever has little to do with the size of the space you are living in. It has more to do with the sense of control you feel you have in your life and the amount of autonomy you have to come and go as you please. The reality is as strong as your thoughts about it. Your feelings are indeed valid and deserve attention. Let me invite you to think about how a change of mindset about your feelings could change your reality.

Residential Cruise ships stop in ports anywhere from 24 hours to five days. You can explore new locations at every port. Maybe that’s not enough for you. You could also take a break from the ship if you needed some land living for a bit. On top of everything else, you aren’t confined to your cabin, say as you would be in a snow-bound mountain cabin. You can roam the ship any time of night or day without considering the weather, the hour, traffic or parking, or even being mugged. Rethinking your fear of claustrophobia can open the world up for you.

That Said…

Maybe cruising is just not her thing, and that’s OK. It’s not for everyone, and no excuse is needed. Maybe your thing is traveling in a tiny home, RV, or AirBnB. If that’s the case, my job is done.

Otherwise, what reasons do you give yourself for not making changes in your life, even when you want to? Are they legitimate, or are they the result of not applying what you know to your life situation? There’s something to ponder. Whether you want to retire to something different or be a digital nomad, you have lots of options open to you.

Last Updated July 29, 2023
Originally Published July 29, 2023

10 thoughts on ““I Could Never Do Residential Cruising””

  1. The first thing which came to mind as I thought more about your new adventure was that you wouldn’t be able to host guests, be they friends or family, in your new digs. So I wondered if such a vessel would have a guest stateroom or two for visitors. Something you might write about when you get settled in.

    Thanks for being the first comment on this site! We’re allowed to house guests in our cabin (with a very reasonable fee for food), which I don’t think we’ll ever do, and there will be extra cabins available for rent too. -rc

  2. One of the big questions about entertainment would be how frequently they cycle through it. They can’t put on a new stage show every day, or even every week, but you probably only want to see each one once or twice. (If it interests you at all!) Lecturers are easier to switch out, but it’s still easy to believe you could run out.

    Those things work out on short-term cruises, because you only need to fill a few days, and the novelty of walking around the ship will fill a lot of that time. For a multi-month trip, how will it work out? I assume that the world cruise people have figured this out, and a multi-year trip is not a *lot* harder than a multi-month trip, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

    They will likely also bring in shows by video (big screen in the theater), and of course films. There are actually services that ships use for entertainers, where (for instance) an entertainer jumps on a ship at a port, does their gig for a few nights, and then jumps back off at the next port, where they are scheduled to join another ship for a few nights. Whether there are enough of such entertainers to fill a schedule for three years (or whatever) is a good question, but you get the idea. -rc

  3. Randy, what an interesting solution…what about specialists for medical emergencies and for everyday aches and pains? I am going to research this and have already looked at some of the ships that are offering this type of living — could be very exciting. Looking forward to following along on your adventure (if I don’t figure out a way to join it).

    We’ll often be in port in countries that have good medical care. Good luck on your Covert assignment! -rc

  4. Medical Repatriation Insurance to get you back to the States is an absolute must. As is a careful examination of true costs. When I broke my leg and hip on a cruise the medic could do nothing but pain meds. I could do nothing but lay in my room and wait for the next port, which was fortunately Orlando FL. The local hospital could not fix me and the car ride home to my doctor in PA was incredible. While no one wants these things to happen you absolutely must investigate the outrageous unexpected costs as well as the level of care at the hospitals along your way.

    A definite must. You got lucky, in a way! Kit mentions medical evacuation insurance here, and there will be a much more detailed discussion of that in a future article. -rc

    • If you’re on a cruise ship, how in the world could the next port of call be Orlando, Florida?

      Because there are multiple cruise terminals at Port Orlando, and that was their destination whether it was one of many or their final stop. -rc

  5. I could never live without my precious Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I’m glad to see some residential ships permit pets…now to find out which ones and can I afford it.

    There is usually a weight limit, but a spaniel is likely within most limits. -rc

  6. To go along with the pet limitations, I’m wondering about limits for Service dogs. I have a friend with a Great Dane mobility dog….

    Good questions both. The ships don’t tend to be American so ADA likely wouldn’t apply to them, but “Good business practice” should! Will blog on that when I know more. -rc

    • Even if it’s an American-flagged ship the ADA is a Federal requirement for new government construction. Privately owned commercial buildings (including ships, etc.) are not required to be compliant and even the government has no mandate to upgrade their existing properties. Commercial properties that get federal funding must also be compliant but again, just new construction, there is no requirement to upgrade existing properties unless it is advertised as Accessible. Check with the ship you are considering. They may have accessible offerings (service dog accommodations, etc.) but even so they are under no mandate to be ‘Accessible’ to ADA standards.

      Your last sentence is definitely true. However, even private buildings in the U.S. that are newly constructed or undergoing renovation are absolutely required to come up to ADA standards. A hotel in our county seat recently did a major expansion and was slapped with a fine for not making enough rooms ADA compliant, and of course it was required to do so in addition to paying the multi-thousand-dollar fine. -rc

      • Thank you Randy. So many people misunderstand the laws for things like the ADA.

        The whole thing is widely misunderstood — to the peril of companies who don’t pay attention to the mandates. Even though I don’t believe my sites “must” be accessible to the blind, I do go to some effort to make them accessible, since I just feel it’s the right thing to do. I do have quite a few blind readers, and they report the sites are easy to use. -rc


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