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Couple booked 51 back-to-back cruises instead of retiring to a nursing home


Could you imagine living on the same cruise ship for over one year? Marty and Jess Ansen, a retired couple from Australia, spent over 450 days—longer than many of the crew members—aboard Princess Cruises' Coral Princess, booking 51 back-to-back cruises on the same ship. "We welcome the different captains onboard," Jess told A Current Affair

The great-grandparents began their journey on June 16, 2022, sailing from Brisbane, Australia, and like at home, they settled into a daily routine, starting each morning with an hour of ping-pong. "It's nice and dark at 5:30 in the morning," Marty said. "We do it together," continued Jess, "And we have a lot of fun." 

After disembarking Coral Princess, they plan to sail onboard the 3,090-passenger Crown Princess for another year. Though the couple didn't disclose how much they've spent on their extended trip, they claim it's cheaper than a retirement home.

By the time they disembark, they plan to have spent two years onboard the same ship. “It’s a wonderful life,” Marty said. 

Read more: Princess Cruise Tips & Tricks

When speaking to the TODAY show, Marty said the idea came about after a long hiatus from cruising caused by the global pandemic


In March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a "No Sail Order" to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While it was limited to U.S. sailings, the cruise industry was impacted globally. 

When speaking to The TODAY Show, Marty said the idea resulted from the two years they couldn't cruise. The couple wanted to "catch up" on the sailings they missed. 

"Eventually, I said to my [travel] agent, 'Look, whatever...comes just book it!" 

The Ansens sailed for decades before embarking on their 450+-day adventure


Living on a cruise ship full-time means they don't have to worry about cooking or cleaning. Instead, they have a cabin steward who services their stateroom daily. Plus, all meals are prepared by the onboard chefs, so they don't have to budget for groceries. "It's a lifestyle," Jess explained, "...though the day you have all these activities, and I love the hula [and ballroom] dancing." 

On even the shortest cruises, there's an entertainment staff onboard who facilitates different events, including trivia, dance classes, bingo, deck parties, and more. 

Marty said they have to stay on the ship "to stay alive" since they've gotten so used to being waited on. "We don't know how to make a bed," he joked. 

Read more: Should I cruise on Princess to Alaska? I booked a sailing to see for myself

The worst part is saying goodbye to the new friends they've made


Whether you're embarking on a solo trip or sailing with friends, cruising is a great opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. "[Cruising] was the perfect answer...[to] see the world and meet these people and make lifelong friends," Marty said. 

Those onboard have become like family to the Ansens, with the crew going as far as surprising Jess with a special song and cake in the dining room on her birthday. Hotel Manager Ren van Rooyen even calls the couple his "second mom and dad." 

They're quite the celebrities onboard, too, with new passengers knowing that the extended-stay couple is onboard. 

They didn't forget about their actual family onboard


While they're not able to see their family as frequently as others may, they stay in contact with everyone via email. Plus, whenever a ship is scheduled to call at a port close to family, the great-grandparents arrange to see their relatives. When asked if they missed their family, Jess immediately responded, "No." 

"They're busy people," she explained, "And we're at a stage in our lives where we just want to enjoy ourselves." 

Marty said he would do this for the rest of his life, indicating that residing close to family isn't a priority for the couple. 

Ryan Gutridge, a cloud solutions engineer, started living and working onboard cruise ships full-time in 2021, visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau more than 70 times over the last two years


As reported by Business Insider, Gutridge claimed that living on a cruise ship for 300 days costs roughly the same as paying rent for an apartment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 2023, his base fare budget was about $30,000.

Since he has racked up so many days at sea, his drinks and internet are free, thanks to his Crown & Anchor Society perks. Because of his benefits, he said he'll spend even less money cruising than in the past, even if he's cruising more. 

By 2025, Gutridge wants to have gotten rid of his apartment and sell his car. 

Interesting in booking a back-to-back cruise? Here are some tips for smooth sailing

Deluxe Porthole Veranda

You'll want to book your back-to-back sailings at the same time, especially if you want to reserve the same cabin. Otherwise, you risk losing the stateroom and having to pack and unpack in the middle of your vacation. An easy way to see if the same cabin is available is to open two web browsers, one for each sailing. Better yet, a reliable travel agent can do the work for you. 

Moreover, you shouldn't expect all of the ship's amenities to be available the morning the first sailing concludes. Instead, the crew has to assist with disembarkation for guests who aren't continuing on the next cruise. Additionally, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol dictates that the passenger count for past sailings must be at zero before they can start the boarding process, so you'll have to receive a new cruise card. 

Consecutive cruises allow you to maximize the value of your airfare

delta flight

While you likely won't book 51 back-to-back cruises, they're popular for a reason. While I'm interested in cruising on the upcoming Utopia of the Seas, I cannot justify the price of a plane ticket to Florida for 3 or 4 nights. Plus, that's not enough time to experience everything onboard the world's second-largest cruise ship, from the brand-new immersive train car specialty restaurant to the longest dry slide at sea. 

Instead, a weeklong sailing is more appealing; however, since they aren't offered, I'd have to book separate 3- and 4-night cruises. Rather than book two flights to Florida to spend 7 nights on the new ship, I would save money in the long run by booking two consecutive cruises. Moreover, since I'd only be spending one night in Florida (versus two for separate trips), I wouldn't need two pre-cruise hotels. 

If you're considering a one-way (or open-jaw) cruise, back-to-back sailings mean you can book roundtrip airfare. Many Alaska cruises are one-way, sailing from ports like Whittier, Alaska to Vancouver, Canada, so guests can visit more ports and see a wider range of scenery. They're also popular for those who want to tack on a land-based trip to Denali. Not only is it more convenient than booking one-way tickets and navigating different airports, but roundtrip flights are usually cheaper.

Read more: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

NCL Alaska

Consecutive cruises also allow you to visit more ports of call. Let's say you're planning on visiting the Caribbean next summer. Rather than deciding between the Eastern and Western Caribbean, booking back-to-back sailings would enable you to visit ruins in Mexico and snorkel with sea turtles in St. Thomas!

Or perhaps you're interested in exploring Europe. With a variety of sailings departing from ports like Barcelona, Southampton (London), Athens, and more, you could easily combine multiple itineraries and explore more of the continent. 

In 2025, for example, Celebrity Ascent is offering a 7-night roundtrip Western Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona. Upon its return on July 5, it will embark on a one-way cruise to Athens, visiting Malta, Turkey, and, of course, Greece. If you were to book the July 28 and July 5 sailings, you could cross 10 destinations off your bucket list, as both itineraries visit different ports! 

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