Name: Jeff F.
Location: Cruise ship, and home base, Delaware
Retired At: 55
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Vice President of Army Programs at Lockheed Martin
Jeff was born in Narsarsuaq, Greenland, and raised in an Air Force family. After going to school in the U.S. Air Force Academy, he served 10 years in the Air Force. His next career step led him to 24 years at Lockheed Martin Corporation, retiring in 2004 as the Vice President of Army Programs. Jeff has a home in Delaware that his family and friends look after while he is cruising. He typically spends 7-8 months every year on the ship,
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Jeff: My plan was not to retire on a cruise ship. I planned on spending my winters on 7 Mile Beach in Grand Cayman with two to three cruises a year. Mother Nature changed that plan in 2004. When I was on my first Bermuda Cruise, Hurricane Ivan hit Grand Cayman with a devastating blow. My winter plans were gone in an instant. I extended that one-week cruise to six cruises totaling 47 days, my longest cruise ever. That was just the beginning. I continued booking cruises for about 49 days at a time until my first Holland America Grand World Voyage in 2007. This cruise was 3.5 months long. It was meant to be my once-in-a-lifetime voyage, but I was hooked and booked another world voyage the following year.
Retirement Awaits: How do you spend your days on the ship?
Jeff: I exercise continually throughout the day, making sure to get up for a walk every hour. The most important thing you have to learn when you live at sea is that this is not a vacation, just a different lifestyle. You have to control your consumption and make sure you stay fit. I never get bored. There is always something interesting to do. I believe in making the most out of every day, you never know how much time we have left.
Challenges In Cruising Part Time
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in spending part of your retirement on a cruise ship?
Jeff: The detailed planning that goes into each voyage is the most challenging! My friends and I have huge, detailed spreadsheets capturing what we will be doing at each stop along the way. That also goes for very detailed packing lists, you have to plan and prepare for everything you’ll need.
Cost Of Retirement On A Cruise Ship
Retirement Awaits: How much does it cost to retire part-time on a cruise ship? Are there any extra costs?
Jeff: That’s a tough question to answer because there are so many variables. Next year, for example, I will be doing several months in the Mediterranean and my cost will probably be about $400 per day, including tours. That being said, my friends and I do a lot of exploring as we travel.
I do pay a single supplement. If I’m on a Holland America Line ship with a Retreat, I book a cabana. I don’t drink alcohol so wine and drink packages are not for me. I pay per cruise.
Retirement Awaits: How do you handle health insurance while on the ship?
Jeff: I have Medicare but I also buy travel insurance for medical and medical evacuation.
Retirement Awaits: What advice would you give others about retiring on a cruise ship?
Jeff: I would start with independent research to see where their interests lie. Look at their particular circumstances and the level of comfort they desire, and then start looking at cruise lines that align with their individual desires. Set up auto payments for any bills you have back home. Do a lot of detailed planning before getting on board. Know what you need and what your plans are for each port.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known
Retirement Awaits: What do you wish you would have known before living on a cruise ship?
Jeff: I wish I had been told to focus on exploring the world earlier rather than just bouncing from one beach to the next as I had on prior vacations.
Best Cruise Destinations
Retirement Awaits: What are your favorite cruise destinations?
Jeff: Well, it’s hard for me to pick out just one. I love exploring India, such a rich history and culture. Varanasi, India, is one of my favorite places to visit. It is one of the holiest sites for Hindus. If you are visiting India, it’s a must-see, so spiritual, colorful, and chaotic. Myanmar is fabulous, particularly Bagan, Myanmar, with thousands of temples and pagodas. One of the best hot air balloon rides in the world! Vietnam is a wonderful place to visit, one of my best trips was down into the Mekong Delta, stepping back in time. There are incredible sights at every turn. Visiting the Great Wall of China is spectacular no matter how many times I visit. It’s just a magnificent piece of history
Petra, Jordan, is incredible. I have hiked all over Petra over the years, just amazing. And last but certainly not least, I always leave the ship to go on an African safari whenever I get the chance. Being out in the wild and seeing incredible animals in their natural habitat, especially the big five, is always a humbling experience.
Jeff prefers Holland America. Having been blessed to have met people from all over the world, we have more in common than we have differences. Sadly, many people focus on the differences and not always in a positive manner. Just because people live differently than we do, doesn’t make them less in any fashion. They are richer in many ways that we may never understand.