Here's a retirement plan you may not have heard of: spending the rest of your life exploring the world by sea, hopping from one cruise ship to the next with just a single suitcase. It sounds dreamy, and for couple Richard and Angelyn Burk of Seattle, Washington, it's a reality they worked hard to achieve. “We have been frugal all our lives to save and invest in order to achieve our goal,” Angelyn says. “We are not into materialist things but experiences.”
Both in their 50s, the couple's hard work and meticulous planning has paid off in a big way, as they now get to live their dream lifestyle, cruising, traveling, being able to visit places all over the world without hopping on an airplane. “We love to travel and were searching for a way to continuously travel in our retirement that made financial sense,” says Angelyn. While they'd always hoped to spend their retirement traveling, their original plan was to live in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as they got older. When Angelyn, an accountant, began to calculate when they could afford to travel, the math yielded an exciting surprise: by using loyalty memberships and taking advantage of sales, the pair could set sail immediately!
Angelyn, who had already retired, planned their first set of trips, while Richard continued to work remotely, and considered putting their house up for sale once their kids flew the coop. By May 2021, they were traveling for good, two suitcases between them. During winter 2021 and spring 2022, they realized that they could afford near-year-round cruise travel years before they had planned thanks to cruise loyalty programs and sales. Says Angelyn, “We don't plan to permanently live on land in the future.”
All costs considered, the math makes sense. If it costs the couple on average $100 per night all-in or less to live on a cruise ship, that's $36,500 a year. The average price of a home in Seattle is around $607,000, with an average mortgage between $36,000 and $50,000. The pair always plan ahead and calculate carefully, ensuring they can continue to enjoy all the cruise lifestyle has to offer for years to come. “Currently, this year, we have secured 86 cruise days with an average all-in cost of $89 per day for both of us,” Angelyn told CNN. This includes their room, food, entertainment, transportation, gratuity, port fees, and taxes. “It is leisurely travel without the complications of booking hotels, restaurants, and transportation, while staying within our budget,” she points out.
Thanks to planning their cruises back-to-back, boarding the next where the last one ends, they can count the number of times they've slept on land in the last year on one hand. On the rare occasion that the timelines don't match up, they spend a short time on land, usually visiting family or friends. And where have they gone on their travels? So far, they've cruised to the Bahamas, the Mexican Riviera, and the Panama Canal cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Vancouver, Canada, and they plan to cruise for 50 days around the Adriatic Sea this summer, seeing the sights around Europe, and another 51-day cruise this fall taking them from Seattle to Sydney. Some of their favorite destinations include Italy, Canada, Iceland, and the Bahamas, but if they had to choose one favorite, it'd be Singapore.
One year into their new lifestyle, and the couple loves cruising just as much as they did when they were saving and planning for this unique retirement. Says Angelyn, “Where else can you have your resort take you to different countries while relaxing by the pool or sleeping in a comfortable bed?”