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A senior man and woman leaning against the rails on a ship smiling with the ocean in the background.

Cruise Tips for Seniors


Do you love the idea of traveling the world but dislike the thought of navigating busy airports and unfamiliar city streets in search of your hotel? Cruises are a great way for seniors to visit a variety of cities and countries all over the world without having to worry about where to stay, what to eat, or where to go next.

Cruises are also great for couples, friends, and families who have different levels of ability. Those who wish to can go ashore and take part in tours, group outings, and shopping trips, while others can stay aboard the ship and enjoy a variety of scheduled activities, musical performances, games, and more. Plus, cruises offer plenty of delicious dining options.

For those seniors and loved ones interested in planning their own cruise, Brightwater Senior Living has a few tips for making sure it’s the best it can be.

Invest in Travel Insurance

Paying for a cruise and all the travel that accompanies it is a serious investment, so it’s important to protect yourself. Should you miss a flight, get sick and need to cancel, or lose your luggage, the only way to cover or recoup any of those costs is with travel insurance. In addition to protecting you ahead of your trip, travel insurance can cover costs your normal medical insurance doesn’t, such as medical care on a foreign flagged vessel and an ambulance ride or hospital stay in a foreign country. Do your research to find exactly what type of insurance you need and which plan has the best rate.

Pack for Every Possibility

Heading to a warm, dry climate? Be sure to pack plenty of light, breathable clothing – but also pack at least one warm outfit and a rain jacket, just in case. You never know what can happen out on the high seas, or in an unexpected layover, and you will want to be prepared for any situation.

In addition to packing for all types of weather, you should also pack for every medical situation. Bring a supply of all your daily medications, as well as over-the-counter items you occasionally need, such as Tylenol, bandages, antacids, etc. You don’t need to go overboard (get it?), but it will pay to be prepared. Depending on where your ship has port calls, it may be difficult to track down certain medications, should you need them. And if the ship offers over-the-counter medications for sale, they will be available at a premium.

Be Choosy With Your Stateroom

Save your energy for onshore adventure or onboard fun by selecting a stateroom that’s easily accessible, such as one near an elevator, the dining room, or the swimming pool. Cruise lines provide online maps of their vessels that you can use when selecting your room, so you can pinpoint activities you or your loved one will be particularly interested in and plan your stay around that space.

Upon arriving at your room, you may want to add some decoration or personal flair to the door. Cruise ship corridors and stateroom doors tend to look very similar, and there will be a lot of them, so it can be helpful for seniors to make their own door stick out in some way. Inquire with the staff ahead of time to get permission and learn about any decorations or signage that are prohibited.

Plan Ahead for Travelers of Different Ability

If you or your loved one has mobility limitations, special dietary needs, or a disability, include this in your research when deciding which cruise to book. If the cruise line’s website doesn’t list this info, call them directly to find out what options are available. Some cruise lines also require travelers with certain disabilities to travel with a companion, so that is something to inquire about as well. Many cruise ships have a limited number of accessible staterooms, so if that is something you will need, it’s important to book early.

With a little extra planning, a cruise can also be enjoyable – and even beneficial – to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as Parkinson’s. After checking with your loved one’s doctor and getting the all-clear, contact the cruise line to inquire what provisions they have in place for travelers with different cognitive abilities. Or consider a cruise designed specifically for those living with dementia, such as those offered by Elite Cruises & Vacations.

We hope these tips help you plan a cruise you will love. Getting out and traveling the world can be a wonderful experience that brings new joy and creates lasting memories. For more tips on living a full life after retirement, visit the Brightwater Senior Living blog.