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The “cult cruisers” living on the ocean


Since September 2021, Rita Deitchman has spent only one day on dry land, says Danielle Braff in The New York Times. The 74-year-old is one of the world’s “cult cruisers”, a small and devoted band of retirees who book back-to-back cruises for “more or less forever”. The aim is to essentially live on board. Deitchman has been on 196 cruises so far. Her one day on shore was spent doing laundry and waiting for her next ship to set sail.

Lockdown was hard on the cruisers. Sailing from US ports stopped for a year and a half. Deborah Irby, 53, spent her time looking at videos of big boats on YouTube with her husband Curtis, desperately trying “to get their cruise fix off the water”. Donna Muller, 66, doesn’t look back on her two landlocked years fondly either. “We really were homesick for our second home.”

Life as a cruiser isn’t cheap. Fully furnished residences aboard the MV Narrative can cost between $1m and $8m to buy, and year-long leases start at $400,000. But for Frank Shumard, 69, retiring on the sea was a no-brainer. “I didn’t even care where I was going when I was on the cruise – I was happy just to sit up on the lounge chair and watch the ocean go by.”