I was introduced to a new concept yesterday: cruise retirement. I do not mean when a cruise ship is retired; I am referring to those who choose to retire to cruises instead of retirement homes. While younger retirees take cruises, this idea involves older retirees, or those retirees who are at the point when they need some assistance though possibly not yet medical assistance. It exists, and it’s actually quite common. I think retiring to a ship is a brilliant (there’s some British vocab for you) idea!
When we were required to purchase health insurance prior to departure, it only added to our assumption that we would be the younger ones on the ship. I have never been required to purchase insurance on a cruise before, but it makes sense. When you’re at sea 15 days out of 20, health insurance is probably a great idea. With insurance and all, we were able to hop on a 21 day cruise for much less than $100 per person per day. Even if we fell into the “oldest” insurance category, I doubt the price would have reached much over $150 per day. Keep in mind, that’s all-inclusive. Now, consider the cost of a retirement home. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, longtermcare.gov:
Some average costs for long-term care in the United States (in 2010) were: $205 per day or $6,235 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home. $229 per day or $6,965 per month for a private room in a nursing home. $3,293 per month for care in an assisted living facility (for a one-bedroom unit).
This is only an average that was calculated five years ago, so I highly doubt the price has gone down. Would you rather be in a stuffy old-folks home playing bridge with the other occupants, or would you rather be traveling the world, being constantly entertained with music and dancing, having access to wonderful food and above average accommodations, being waited on hand and foot, and sharing your experiences with others who share similar interests and still like to play the occasional game of bridge? Not to mention that you still have a health insurance plan fulfilled by a company that would go above and beyond to help you in any circumstances of ill-health. Why would I trust a cruise line over that of a retirement home? Because a cruise line has more on the line – bad press is detrimental on a scale much larger than that of a hometown retirement community. The downside to retiring on a ship is that you’d be away from friends and family, you might not feel “at home,” and the travel to and from the cruise may be so much of a pain that it’s not worth it. Maybe cruise retirement doesn’t appeal to you, and that’s okay. But, now I know why I have seen so many wheelchair-bound seniors on this cruise. And to them I say, way to go!
So, now that I’ve introduced you to a new way to retire (and sorry it was long-winded), it’s time to catch up with the next stop of our journey: Maui.
Pulling into Maui was like a scene from Jurassic Park: big, green mountains with steep, shaded valleys. Unlike the movie scenes, the angle of the sun was in the way of my lens, and there were neighborhoods dotted along the hillside.
The Hana port was small, so for this stop we dropped anchor and caught a tender to the island. In my previous experiences, the tenders come from the shore. This time, the ship had its own small boats that were part of the safety fleet. While each boat held 120 people, only one boat could tender at a time, and loaded rocking boats with (mostly) senior citizens isn’t a quick task. We had to take a number for our turn on the tender. At 9 am, we were given numbers 803 and 804. Two hours later we were called to the boat. That’s two hours that we lost onshore on an already short shore day. And, we weren’t even on the last boat. I definitely expected a smoother operation from the cruise line. However, if that’s the worst that happens, then I’m not complaining.
The second we stepped foot on Hana’s shore, all my worries went away. Just look at the view from the main street!
We walked through the quaint beach town, found a Starbucks for wifi (it’s not easy to make plans on the ship when you don’t have free internet access and you don’t want to go on the boat-sponsored tours), and planned our day. We had heard of the famous coastal drive, and Ben decided we should take the drive on a Vespa.
Less than an hour later, we were cruising up the coast of the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.
If you’ve ever driven up Highway 101 in California, then you have a good idea of what this drive was like. It wasn’t as winding, but it was just as spectacular. Most of the island is protected, so there were very few residences along the way. Every turn was another photo opportunity.
We only had three hours to explore the coast – just enough time to leave us wanting more. Ben strapped his new GoPro to his forehead, and he was able to get beautiful footage from the perspective of the Vespa. Once the video gets edited, I may try to upload it here. In the meantime, check out the cool tattoo the GoPro left on Ben’s forehead.
We returned the Vespa and headed back to the ship. The return tender was much faster. We sat on the top deck and watched the ocean while we pulled away from port.
The Hawaiian Islands have a Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and Maui is a popular place to go whale watching. As we were sailing away from the island, a humpback whale waved goodbye.
I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of Maui. In fact, I know we’ll be back.