Aussie couple 'living' on cruise ship as cheaper option to retirement home

'We welcome the different captains on board'

An Aussie couple who have enjoyed 51 back-to-back cruises, spanning a total of 455 days, claim that after so long at sea they're no longer suited to life on land and have no plans to permanently return.

Marty and Jess Ansen first left their former home in Brisbane in June last year to board the Coral Princess, and quite literally have never looked back. The retirees, who say they've spent more time onboard than the respective captains, even claim living permanently on the ship is "cheaper" than an aged care home.

"It's our lifestyle," Ms Ansen told A Current Affair. "Where else can you go (to have this), you go for dinner, you to a show, you go dancing. Through the day you have all these activities, I love the hula dancing and the ballroom dancing."

The Aussie retirees say they have no plans to move permanently back to dry land. Source: A Current Affair.
The Aussie retirees say they have no plans to move permanently back to dry land. Source: A Current Affair.

The great-grandparents, so well-known onboard they're on first-name bases with the crew, say they just can't imagine their life any other way. "We're on board longer than anybody else. The wheels change over but we stay on board," Mr Ansen said. "We welcome the different captains on board."

Though they'd been cruising for decades, like millions of sea enthusiasts around the world, the couple were forced ashore during the Covid-19 pandemic, but as soon as restrictions lifted, they leapt straight back to all-you-can-eat buffets and matinee performances.

"Eventually I said to my agent, 'look, whatever comes, book it' and that's how it got to be such a long cruise," Mr Ansen said.

Crew treat couple as their work parents

With every meal included in addition to having their room cleaned daily, the Ansens claim cruising is cheaper than being in a retirement home. Even the Coral Princess' hotel manager, Ren van Rooyen has spent less time on board than the couple.

The Coral Princess Cruise is seen.
The Coral Princess. Source: AP.

"We always make a joke that I go away and I come back and it's like coming to see my family - my mum and dad again - they're like my second mum and dad on board," Van Rooyen said.

"Everyone knows them around the ship, they're basically celebrities on board. Even the guests know them, they're local celebrities."

While many may wonder what one actually does on the day-to-day on board a cruise for so long, the couple say they simply stick to their routine, which involves a morning game of table tennis — which lasts an hour — from 5.30am, before the sun rises.

"We do it together and we have a lot of fun," Ms Ansen said, adding it was the perfect exercise to allow her to enjoy the many buffets on board.

The pair have another eight months aboard the Coral Princess before they disembark for a few months on dry land, then, they'll head off again for a year-long cruise aboard the Crown Princess. They say they always make plans to meet up with family when they port, but don't feel bad spending all their time at sea due to the busy nature of their relatives' lives.

"We don't know how to wash up anymore, we don't know how to make a bed, because we haven't done it for so long. So now we have to stay on board just to stay alive!" Mr Ansen joked.

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