Friday, October 21, 2011

George Mindling Column 12-31-2004

Permanent Retirement Cruising not Feasible


An “outside the box” idea about cruising is getting a lot of press these days. Permanent retirement cruising, a concept that would put retirees on cruise ships instead of assisted living facilities, is currently being touted by two Northwestern University professors. While there is a fanciful, Pollyanna air to the idea, no one seems to want to discuss the actual mechanics of living on a cruise ship.

Drs. Lee A. Lindquist and Robert M. Golub make their financial case for cruise ship living without mentioning the one item the U.S. government doesn’t cover outside the United States: Medicare. A retiree can have Social Security payments deposited anywhere, but Medicare requires additional insurance, called Medigap to cover medical services outside the U.S. Perhaps the doctors feel if you can afford to cruise, you should be able to afford your own medical coverage. Although the concept supposedly shows the financial advantage to being constantly at sea, it doesn’t mention the fact that most ships at sea have only dispensaries, not full medical facilities or staff. Ships doctors are not specialists in geriatrics, nor are they surgeons. They are the first line of medical care. Being at the mercy of some of the third world ports for emergency medical care is enough to scare a person back to health!

While we’re looking at costs, the thought of having visitors on a cruise ship that stays in any port less than 12 hours is interesting to say the least. The cost of visiting would be the cost of passage on the ship. Remember, no visitors in port! At a thousand or so bucks a pop, that’s not a great way to entice the kids to visit. They would have to stay a week at a time, too. Grandkids have a way of being cute from 9 to 5, then its time to give them back to Mom and Dad. Not on a cruise ship. Not many places to hide, and the kiddie areas tend to be stark, at best. Maybe they could play in the engine room.

Since the average stateroom is smaller than the proverbial breadbox, maybe guests could sleep in the closet with the life jackets. Since the mandatory cabin gratuity, not mentioned by the good doctors, is ten dollars a day per person, the kiddies would generate another cost left out of the concept.

The main cost the good doctors overlook is the constant need for new clothes. The average passenger gains between five and ten pounds each cruise. Clothes would have to be replaced at least twice a month! Even with the informal attire one wears while cruising, the cost of new formal wear for the weekly Captain’s dinners would offset any financial gain.
There is one advantage I like that the good doctors didn’t mention. If I die on a cruise, they can just toss me overboard with a flower or two and head for the next port. That is the only thing I see cheaper than on land.


George Mindling © 2004

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