WEIGH ANCHOR- AND RETIRE!
Simone de Beauvoir had the right phrase for it. The eminent French existential philosopher once said, “Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday or as a rejection, a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.”
Far be it from us to cast aspersions on the noble idea of the ‘R’ word, but there is definitely a stigma attached to it these days, as if you’re kind of giving up on life by declaring your working life over, complete, ‘finished with engines.’
We have heard friends mutter, darkly, “Retirement is not for me. I’m not ready to sit and vegetate.”
In all honesty, we have known some of these folks to be in a vegetative state at regular intervals, but that may just be the effects of the Gilbeys. Yet it really does seem like hanging them up is anathema to some, a declaration of defeat in the face of life’s relentless onslaught.
But then we caught sight of a headline that really made the first half of Ms. De Beauvoir’s quote make sense. It was something called the Huffington Post (we did look for Huffington on the map, but only found somewhere called ‘Arianna.’ Not sure what that’s all about). And it read: “Why you might consider retiring on a cruise ship.”
Now, I’m sure we’ve all known people who retired on cruise ships many years ago. But then, in most cases they are called The Crew. But no, in this sense the HuffPo – as it seems that outlet is usually referred to – actually meant guests who have formally retired and now spend their days in itinerant splendour aboard various vessels plying the sea-lanes of the world.
No doubt you’ve already heard of it. For many years, Cunard’s QE2 was the permanent home of American Beatrice Muller, who simply sold off her regular home to spend life travelling the seven seas in constant maritime motion. Crystal Cruises have also had their own full-time resident in the form of Lee Wachstetter, living “a stress-free, fairytale life.”
Two feisty gals who decided that living back on dry land was simply not worth the hassle, and that a state of constant ocean-going was the life for them. As it turns out, they were ahead of their time.
Nowadays – according to the HuffPo – not only are the numbers of people taking a cruise going up year-on-year, but the figures for those who are selling up and moving, lock, stock and several barrels, onto a peripatetic platform are rising in equal proportion.
And it makes sense. Why would you confine yourself to Dr. Decrepitude’s Home for the Terminally Past It when you could take (roughly) the same amount of money and set sail. Forever (where ‘Forever’ in this instance means until you shuffle off this mortal coil, but that could, of course, be several decades).
Just to start with, it is distinctly cost-effective. According to a Telegraph report earlier this year (you can tell we are closer to ‘that age’ when articles about retirement and care homes constitute our daily reading!), the cost for a year’s residency in a retirement home in the Home Counties is now around £92,000. It might be a bit cheaper, say £60,000 in our less expensive regions, but that’s still a massive chunk of change, and probably wipes out most people’s pensions on a per annum basis.
Even if we split the difference at £75,000/year, that’s £1,442 per week. Compare that with the typical per diem of around £100 a day on a decent cruise ship and you are likely to be quids in on the deal.
Add in all the obvious ‘extras,’ like ever-changing scenery, top-class service, better meals than at any retirement home and the constant entertainment and attention that goes with being at sea, and Dr. Decrepitude’s suddenly looks as appealing as a two-day-old transport café breakfast, especially at that price.
You will also benefit from being a particular personage on your boutique bateau, a friend of all the staff and crew, and someone who enjoys non-stop consideration from your Permanently On Board status. Certainly the likes of Madames Muller and Wachstetter profited from that level of sea-going celebrity, beloved and cosseted by everyone they came into contact with.
So, what would it be like, spending all your days at sea instead of being earth-bound for most of the year? Just to start with, you’d have one of the most desirable addresses anyone could acquire. Instead of Three Railway Cuttings, you could gleefully scribble down SS Carefree, Somewhere-At-Sea whenever asked for your personal details.
And, with your nth visit to Civitavecchia, there would be no rush to get off the ship and be among the frenzied hordes battling to see Rome. You could just have (another) lie-in and enjoy the free run of your ocean-going domicile with virtually no-one around. Knowing there was no set disembarkation day would also be pure bliss for those who can’t help counting down to the end of a traditional voyage.
True, you wouldn’t be able to take all your domestic clutter with you. The cat would probably have to go (but then, your favourite Auntie Agnes loves cats, and hers died a few years back, so she’s be happy to take it), and that vast collection of Toby Jugs you’ve been hoarding for 40 years would also have be given away (as no-one in their right mind is interested in those these days). But that would be a major bonus. Living life clutter-free has long been one of our great ambitions and, while we still seem to be surrounded by the detritus of everyday life, we could easily cast it off in an instant at the thought of casting off at sea, permanently.
Yes, we can definitely see a Retirement-Home-On-The-Ocean-Waves in our future. It certainly beats waking up to the postman at 7.30 in the morning because he can’t deliver a package to Mrs Blenkinsopp next door. We’d pay a good deal just to avoid that in future.
Could you retire on a cruise ship? Could you see yourself cruising in perpetuity? Could YOU retire to the SS Carefree with us? Let us know in the Comments section below!