Home Lifestyle Couple sell up to live on ‘endless’ all-inclusive cruise ship

Couple sell up to live on ‘endless’ all-inclusive cruise ship

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The Villa Vie Odyssey has been billed as an ‘endless’ cruise (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)

What if you could save money and spend your days basking under the sunshine as you travel around the world? You’d jump at the chance, right?

That’s exactly the opportunity that presented itself to Grace and Jerry Grady, who are among the roughly 800 passengers on the Villa Vie Odyssey, one of just two residential cruise liners in operation once it sets sail from Belfast today.

The couple in their 70s sold ‘everything’ to live aboard the ship, which will visit 425 ports in 147 countries and all seven continents over the next three-and-a-half years.

But although it’s the kind of trip that seems reserved for your wildest fantasies, it’s surprisingly affordable.

Jerry and Grace, who previously lived in the US, paid an annual rental fee of €40,038 (£34,064) each for their cabin, with prices on the Villa Via Odyssey ranging from just under €30,000 (£25,524) for an indoor cabin to around €67,000 (£57,003) a year for one with a balcony.

Alongside their room, this covers unlimited food and soft drinks for guests, alcoholic beverages at dinner, free WiFi and medical checks (excluding medicines and procedures), 24/7 room service, weekly housekeeping and a bi-weekly laundry service.

It may seem like a lot to stump up in one go, but when you consider the estimated cost of living in London which sits at £4,245 a month (£50,940 a year) for a single person, it doesn’t seem too bad at all.

It is also possible to buy a cabin outright instead of renting, with prices starting at €91,270 (£77,652) for an inside cabin. If you choose this option, you’ll also have to pay a monthly fees of €1,613 (£1,372) – rising to €3,680 (£3,131) if you go for a balcony cabin – per person to cover your board.

Meanwhile, a mere deposit on a house in the UK comes in at £53,414 on average, and in the capital this figure skyrockets to an eye-watering £108,848. Given that’s before you’ve factored in mortgage repayments, bills, and everyday expenses like food and transport, it’s understandable some people would rather give cruise living a go.

These schemes are growing in popularity, but the only residential ship that has currently hit the seas is The World, where prices are far higher than on the Villa Vie Odyssey and range from €1.84 million (£1.57 million) to €13.8 million (£11.7 million) annually.

It features eight decks including cascading aft decks and a wrap-around promenade (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
The ship’s indoor cabins are the most affordable (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
An outdoor cabin with a balcony will set you back around €67,000 a year (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
The journey sets off from Belfast today (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
Guests can enjoy unlimited food and soft drinks with their package, as well as alcoholic beverages with meals (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
There’s also on-board entertainment (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
The itinerary has even been designed to ensure it’s always Spring or Summer (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)

As for the Gradys, they put their home on the market to fund their voyage, and have been living off the bare minimum out of a rental property in Silicy while they wait to set off.

‘In the end, we sold most of our belongings to friends,’ Grace explained to Euronews. ‘I’ve been wearing the same clothes everyday and washing them by hand each night.’

The pair initially booked to join the three-year Life at Sea Cruises trip which was cancelled in November 2023, so it’s been a long time coming.

‘It has always been a dream of mine to see the world,’ said Jerry. ‘I want to get this thing going. We are vagabonds, we’ve travelled a lot. I’m not worried about anything.’

Like all guests on the Villa Vie Odyssey, they can choose to go back to dry land with at least six months notice, as the itinerary is split into 16 segments of between 35 and 120 days and works on a pay-as-you go basis.

Jerry and Grace do plan on staying for the full three-and-a-half years, though, and may continue to do so afterwards if they get their sea legs. That’s because operator Villa Vie Residences bills its offering as an ‘endless’ cruise, starting all over again once this trip finishes in November 2027.

The ship will be replaced every 15 years, but passengers can effectively become full-time cruisers for the rest of their lives.

Operator Villa Vie Residences has spent millions refurbishing the cruise liner (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
Fancy a spot of golf on the high seas? (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
There’s everything you need – including a beauty salon (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
Free WiFi and a state-of-the-art business centre means passengers can work from the ship (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)
It’s surprisingly affordable (Picture: Villa Vie Residences)

This time around, the journey will kick off with a tour of Northern Europe, before heading on to the Caribbean, North and South America, East Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and back round to Europe again.

The itinerary of the cruise has even been meticulously timed so that it stays nice and sunny throughout the entirety of the voyage.

Inside, the Villa Vie Odyssey – which was built in 1993 but has spent the last eight weeks undergoing a swanky makeover – features eight decks with three restaurants, five bars and lounges, and a wraparound promenade where you can watch the world go by.

There’s also a pool with two Jacuzzis, a spa and fitness centre, an entertainment schedule, pickleball court, an ‘interactive culinary centre’ and a library. But if that’s not enough to keep you busy, hopefully visiting 13 out of the 14 Wonders of the World will do the trick.

‘It is the adventure of a lifetime,’ Jerry added.

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