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How to Safely Plan Your Retirement from Work on Cruise Ships?

Submitted by kgnadmin on

The beginning of a career at sea is a thrilling prospect, especially in the realm of cruise ship jobs, which come with numerous advantages. Yet, few plan a comprehensive long-term strategy for retirement.

While cruise ship jobs have many opportunities and benefits, they also entail certain drawbacks, including extended work hours and prolonged periods of separation from one's family. These challenges can exact their toll over time. Preparing for retirement in advance not only provides tangible goals to strive for but also equips you with a well-thought-out approach to embrace life on land.

Moving back to land-based life requires lots of patience and a small amount of determination. Even being around family 24×7 can take getting used to.

The first way to prepare for retirement is to plan for it. Knowing when you would like to retire – give or take a few contracts – will help you chalk out a post-retirement plan of what you will keep yourself occupied with.

Owing to the relatively high compensation on board – particularly for those in Asian countries – early retirement is possible. This will allow you to return home and spend time with your family, start your own business, or care for aging parents.

For this, you will need to begin saving early. Thanks to cruise ship jobs offering free meals and board to employees, a major chunk of your salary can be saved for the future. It could help you save for courses you may like to do after you quit or even invest in your children's education for the future. This will also provide you with sufficient capital to begin a new business if this is your plan.

Before you retire, work out what type of business you want to engage in after you leave shipping. It is important to remember that administration, government, and management often need to function to the high standards on board a ship. So preparing to set up a business shortly before you retire – perhaps during the period between contracts – will help you save some time.

If you have a cruise ship chef job, you could consider opening a restaurant, quirky food service such as a food truck, or even joining high-end hotels in their food and beverage ventures. Your time on board will stand you in good stead, and post-retirement from your cruise ship job; you will have more than enough experience to take you through interviews for shore-based F&B jobs.

You could also pursue your passions by turning hobbies into careers. Many cruise ship crew have become professional musicians, authors, financial consultants, and entrepreneurs after retirement. Another option is to clear exams for civil services and join high-profile government posts or complete MBA programs, which can get you into shipping companies and other private organizations as CEOs or managing directors.

To stay with the shipping line, you can do specialized courses in many places worldwide and take up well-paying jobs as a surveyor, vetting inspector, agent, broker, or another similar post in the industry. You could even join an institute to teach and share the knowledge you have gained over the years.

Read motivational and self-help books to assist you in dealing with land-based realities such as dishonesty in work, cut-throat business, reading markets and trends, etc. If you do not plan to work after leaving your job at sea, you will still need to consider how you will occupy yourself at home. Rediscover hobbies or find new ones to have something to look forward to when you make the change.

Always remember that mental preparation is the first step toward a successful retirement.

When Should Crew Member Retire?

Retirement is often the last thing on your mind when you begin your career. However, having a plan or career chart, however flexible, can help you strategize toward achieving your aims. Everyone hopes to retire with some financial flexibility finally. When it comes to cruise ship crew, this is even more so.

Working on cruise ships is the forte of the able-bodied. The high physical and mental demands of working long hours – particularly in cruise ship chefs' jobs – can eventually take their toll. There comes a time when you will need to hang up your boots, and it's always best to know how to recognize this time and plan for it.


One key factor to consider when considering retirement from cruise work is your debts. You may be paying your children's college fees or paying back the mortgage on a house. You could even repay the loan on a business you set up back home.

If a major chunk of your debts has been paid back, you could consider retiring to spend time with your family or run your own business.

Physical ability

As we age, physical work becomes increasingly difficult. Cruise ship chefs' jobs, particularly, can be very demanding on the body. It eases only slightly as you get promoted. Still, the fact remains that your biological schedule is continuously tested with changes in meal timings and sleep schedules to accommodate the pressures of work.

If you develop health issues that affect your work in the long run, it is a good time to start thinking of other options.

Mental stress

The working life of a cruise ship crew is anything but easy. Long working hours and months of labor without a day off can take its toll mentally. This is because safety cannot be compromised, and quality is expected to always be up to standards. There is no chance to be lazy or let your guard down.

Many cruise ship crew also share their cabin with other members of staff. Relatively small living spaces can also add to the mental pressure. Stress can be compounded by the kind of colleagues, superiors, and company policies you deal with daily.

Whichever way you look, your mental well-being should not be at the receiving end of unhappy working conditions simply because emotional breakdowns can cost you more in the long run by laying you off work and perhaps even requiring costly medication.

Family pressures

Cruise ship jobs require you to stay away from home for prolonged periods. For those with young families or sick parents, this can be debilitating. Many can cope with the pressures of being away, but circumstances are different for each one.

If you are required to be physically present to care for an ailing child or parent or would like to be more involved in your children's lives as they grow, it might be time to consider early retirement from cruise ships and find other options if needed, back home.

Stable shore-based option

Often, cruise ship jobs are a gateway to shore-based employment. By working on a cruise ship, you can save more money than at a similar position on land. If you have a career path leading you to open your own business, you can use your years working on a cruise ship to provide the capital investment for your business before retiring from cruise life.

Another reason to retire from cruise ship jobs could be a stable opportunity with a good company on land, perhaps with a raise or better benefits, and one that keeps you close to your family.

Crew Insights

Articles and experiences shared by crew members working on cruise ship. Find out more about ship life at sea together with tips and advices for first time crew members and cruise oldtimers.