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People who live on cruise ships full time share how they do it: 'It's not just for retired people'

Manseen Logan   

People who live on cruise ships full time share how they do it: 'It's not just for retired people'
  • Business Insider spoke with three people who live on cruise ships for at least half the year.
  • One remote worker spent 300 days living on a cruise ship and said it cost as much as his apartment.

As the urge for a simpler way of living grows, some cruise companies are offering condos starting at $100,000. On these ships, people can travel around the world every 3 ½ years. For those who don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend, there are other ways to make a cruise ship your home.

Business Insider spoke with three people with different experiences living on a cruise ship. They spent anywhere from zero to $30,000 a year to enjoy this lifestyle and lived at sea for up to 300 days within a year. Here's what they shared.

Christine Kesteloo lives on a cruise ship half the year for free as a 'wife on board'

High-ranking cruise ship officers often have the opportunity to travel with their spouse. Christine Kesteloo told BI that she and her husband have taken advantage of this perk.

"Before the pandemic, my husband took advantage of this perk as a 'husband on board' while I worked 12-hour days," Kesteloo, who worked as a travel and cruise director before losing her job during the pandemic, said. "Now, I sail with my husband as a 'wife on board.'"

The couple has an extensive history with cruise lines and actually met on a cruise ship. Kesteloo told BI she's been sailing on and off for nearly 12 years, and her husband, a chief staff engineer, has been doing so for 30. They live rent-free and have minimal expenses.

Read more: I live on a cruise ship for free. Here's what it's like being a 'wife on board,' plus what I spend each week.

Musician Jack Nolan traveled around the world full time on a cruise ship with his band

Cruise lines offer many jobs that allow workers to travel the world and essentially live rent-free. Jack Nolan, a musician from England, lived for about seven years as a guitarist on cruise lines and shared his story with BI.

"It's amazing to have the opportunity to travel and get paid for it as well," Nolan said. "Our drummer already knew the process of how to get a cruise ship gig, so he led the way."

This year, Nolan left his cruise ship job to embark on a new journey in Los Angeles. He told BI he made about $4,000 a month working and living on cruise ships and said it was easy to save money because his rent and the cost of meals were covered by the company.

Read more: I'm a cruise musician on an adults-only ship. I make $4,000 each month and get to travel the world — but there are drawbacks too.

Ryan Gutridge budgeted and lived on a cruise ship for 300 days while working remotely

During the pandemic, many white-collar workers were able to radically transform how — and where — they did their jobs. In 2021, Ryan Gutridge, an IT professional, did just that. He booked a September cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas ship and continued sailing nearly every week for a year.

"I've been told I'm crazy for trying to live full time on a cruise ship, but it's not just for retired people," Gutridge said. "Last year when I started really looking at the numbers and evaluating how much base fare I paid to be on a ship for 300 nights, I found it was almost neck and neck with what I paid for rent and trash service for an apartment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida."

This year, Gutridge budgeted $30,000 to live on a cruise ship full time.

Read more: I live and work remotely from a cruise ship 300 days a year. It's helped my social life and costs just as much as an apartment — here's how I do it.


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