I am delighted to welcome this week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast, Nancy and Robert (Dale) Houchens. I found out about Nancy and Dale when I read articles about them in both USA Today and Miami Herald. The Houchens retired in 2015 to a life—planned well before their last day at work—of living on cruise ships. I wrote a feature about the Houchens, Living On Cruise Ships in my new book, The Joy of Cruising Again in a section called “Cruisers Like You and Me…Sort Of.” I have been intrigued about this burgeoning trend for people to live largely, or entirely on the ocean.
It is not a new thing. Cruise fans who are “loyal to Royal” know about Mario Salcedo, aka Super Mario who left the work world in the 90s and has been cruising continuously on Royal Caribbean ever since. Or “Mama” Lee Wachstetter who started living on cruise ships in 2005 and has cruised continuously into her 90s. There are numerous others, and I love to have you on The Joy of Cruising Podcast to share your story with our listeners!
After the pandemic, retiring on cruise ships seemed to become a thing, and I would see media accounts of passionate cruisers who have made that move on a more regular basis. Retirees' desire to get closer to the ocean manifests itself in many ways: ranging from equity ownership or long-term lease arrangement with one of the firms selling purpose-built ocean-borne condominiums; retirees who cruise much of the year while maintaining a home on land; to cruisers like Nancy and Dale, who choose to sell their home and possessions and cruise most of a year. Nancy and Dale cruise mostly on Carnival—so much so that they have a "parents/children" relationship with numerous Carnival staff across the fleet, as well as rich friendships developed with other Carnival cruisers. However, they are by no means exclusive to Carnival as you will hear.
Retiring to live on cruise ships remains an option financially out of the reach of most retirees inclined to trade their retirement home for the ocean. Nevertheless, many of us cruisers are fascinated by such retirees. Such a life is the embodiment of the joy of cruising. I suspect that, like me, many fantasize about doing the same thing. I think I could rationalize a virtually full-time life on cruise ships, but I don’t think my wife would approve. Nancy says tell her about no cooking and cleaning--maybe I'll try that in a couple of years!