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Why Cruises Are the Best Vacations for Seniors

Recently, there have been stories in the news about seniors who have decided to spend their golden years on a never-ending cruise. With some careful shopping around, seniors can actually cruise for less than they would spend at a high-end retirement home. The perks are endless: All the exquisite cuisine you can eat at any time of day, the joy of seeing new places each week, a dedicated cabin steward to see to every need, and room service if the seas are rough and you don’t want to fall walking the halls to dinner.

Cruises are an excellent travel choice for seniors, even if it’s just for a week or two. We can think of many reasons for seniors to travel by cruise ship. Here are just a few:

Senior Discounts Start at Age 55

(That’s not senior, that’s just middle age.) But if you are older than the magical number of 55 years, you’ll get a discount on most cruise lines, and sometimes it’s significant. One more perk: Even if you are traveling with younger children or grandchildren, every passenger in your cabin will get the senior discount.

No Driving, No Stairs

Once you get to the cruise ship pier, you won’t have to drive anywhere for the rest of your vacation. What’s more, there are elevators on the cruise ships, so you won’t have to climb stairs while you’re on board. It’s pretty easy for people with limited agility to get around, although in rough waters it’s best to hang on to a hand rail. On the other hand, if you’re in great shape, you can jog around the top deck or ascend the rock wall.

Eat When you Want – Perfect for Early Birds

If you’re accustomed to rising early and eating an early dinner, a cruise ship will accommodate your daily rhythms. It’s wonderful to get up early in the morning, grab some coffee and a pastry and watch the ocean go by from a deck chair. In the afternoon, if you feel like eating at 4:30pm, you can order room service 24 hours a day. It’s still free on most ships, although there may be a small fee for some menu items, or for snacks served after midnight. Larger ships such as the Norwegian Breakaway have at least one dining room, like O’Sheehan’s, that is open 24 hours.

Doctors Onboard

You don’t want to think about this while you’re on vacation, but seniors sometimes need the services of a health professional. While it might be hard to find a doctor in a land-based hotel or resort, there is a doctor on the cruise ship, along with several nurses. If your arthritis flares up in the tropical climate, or your muscles are sore from the Latin dance lessons, just head to the lower deck of your cruise ship and the doctor is in. Over-the-counter pain relievers, heartburn relief, seasickness pills and other common medications are available at prices that compare to a pharmacy in port. (More about getting sick on a cruise.)

Finding a Great Senior Cruise

In 2014, the average age on cruise ships was estimated to be 48 years old. It has been dropping lately, as some cruise lines are catering to a younger clientele. Royal Caribbean and Carnival, for example, have elaborate water parks and active kids’ clubs that appeal to young couples with little ones in tow. If you want to find a cruise for adults, you might want to steer clear of the “water park” ships.

Another tip, although more expensive, is that the longer the itinerary, the older the passengers. If you take a 12-day cruise in the fall, you are not likely to encounter school-age children on board, and the passengers will be mostly in the over-50 age bracket. The luxury lines – Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, and Crystal – tend to carry an older, adult-oriented crowd. These will also cost a little more, but the fares are more inclusive than you’ll find on other cruise lines.

And if you are looking for a luxury retirement home with excellent service, available healthcare, top-notch cuisine and your own cozy room with room service, consider a cruise ship!

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