Digital nomads are quite literally sailing into the sunset, as targeted cruises become more and more popular. But is it really cost effective and workable to live a life on the high seas?

Earlier this year, The Telegraph published an article with figures working out that living on a cruise ship is cheaper than living in London. Of course, digital nomads have known for many years now that living in most countries is cheaper than living in London, which is why we hang out in countries like Thailand and Bulgaria, rather than London and New York.

One area of the world that most nomads (or those dependent on WiFi, at least) have tended to avoid, however, is the open seas. As if trailing from cafe to cafe or coworking space to coworking space wasn’t enough, imagine having to wait until you reach the next destination port before being able to reply to that email. Can you already feel your hands creeping up to your hair to start tearing it out with frustration? Well, you might have to think again.

Although it’s not the lightning fast speeds they boast in, say, Singapore, some companies like Royal Caribbean and NCL Cruises are working hard to keep you connected. Here, we explore the ups and downs of life on the waves as a digital nomad.


Royal Caribbean Cruises Offer the First High-Speed Wifi

Cruises used to be the last holiday you could take that was truly unplugged from the world, where you had to switch off and no worry about the emails in your inbox or voicemails being left on your phone. In 1999, Norwegian Cruise Lines rolled out the first internet cafe on a cruise ship, but it was unstable, unreliable and hardly a landmark moment for cruise ship internet.

Sunset over Spitbank Fort Hotel in the Solent at Portsmouth
Sunset over Spitbank Fort Hotel in the Solent at Portsmouth

Royal Caribbean’s roll out of Voom, however, has been a game-changer. Not only is it fast and reliable, but it’s a pay-by-day service rather than by the minute, which will make life for digital nomads far more easy and affordable on a ship. If the internet cost still seems unaffordable to you, compare it to the price you’d pay for a coworking space. As cruises are also all-inclusive, they’re like a coworking space in that you’ll probably find like-minded people to talk to — and tea and coffee are included!


Failing WiFi? It’s a Great Time to Start That Project

What if you’re searching for last minute cruise deals and find a fantastic offer with NCL Cruises or Celebrity Cruises, but they’re not ships that can promise powerful WiFi? As mentioned before, cruises are a great way to escape the world of technology and constant demands, and so if you have a book or project you’ve been meaning to work on, this is a great time to make a proper start on it.

If you find a cruise with a nice cruise/dock ratio, you can log in every few days to attend to business as usual, interspersed with a few days of uninterrupted creativity at sea.

Think of it this way. Long-haul flights and buses don’t offer stable WiFi either, so why not opt for the travel method that’s the most fun? If you’re heading to a different country, cruising there is a fantastic option to avoid losing time. How about a last minute cruise deal from the UK to Australia? What better way to spend a month and a half of your life?


What About the Downsides?

Beyond the possibility of shaky internet, what else might you need to watch out for if you decide to cruise while you work? Naturally, distractions are rife. A cruise ship is a small, floating town and comes with all the pros — and cons — of such an environment. Your work breaks can be spent up a climbing wall, learning a new language, practising your dance moves, or simply making new friends and relaxing with cocktails. So not that different to life in a digital nomad community, when you think about it.


And the Upsides?

Making new friends and seeing new places is a guarantee when cruising. If you’re looking for a base to spend longer in, but can’t decide where to go, you can also use this as a potential scouting mission. There’s nothing more disappointing or frustrating than uprooting yourself to go to a new base, only to find you’re not feeling it.

Although there are more distractions, there are some elements of cruising that will definitely save you time. You don’t have to worry about where you’re going to find food, which especially if you have dietary requirements like vegan or gluten-free, can consume a lot of time when in an unfamiliar city. If you know where your three meals a day are coming from, it’s far easier to just relax and get on with working.

If you’re a digital nomad with a family, a cruise is perfect for you. While you work, there are a million things on a cruise ship to keep your kids safe and entertained. Large lines like NCL Cruises and Royal Caribbean are wonderful for children, as they get the run of the ship while you keep peace of mind about them being safe.

Although there are all the activities of a small city, there are none of the dangers and the dodgy districts that mean your kids can’t just take themselves off to the cinema or the arcade without your supervision.


But is it Really Cheaper?

Like anything in life, that part is up to you! If you’re a super budget traveller who’s only scraping by, then unless you manage to score the ultimate last minute cruise deal, you’re not going to manage to live more cheaply on a cruise ship than you would in daily life.

If you’re not averse to a little luxury and are careful which cruise you pick, you can probably manage to swing the books in your favour.  After all, being a successful digital nomad is all about being realistic about your resources and knowing what sort of routine works for you.

Remember that an all inclusive cruise is just that: all inclusive. There are no added costs like a Friday night social at a wine bar where you get carried away, or an accidental night in an expensive hotel when all the cheap places are booked. Cruises are also excellent places to network, as they’re often comprised of a pretty successful group of people, so you can always justify it to yourself as a business requirement — if you need an extra excuse.

Cruises are one of the fastest growing forms of travel and are no longer exclusively for the older generation. With this growth comes a more competitive market and prices that are more affordable all the time. If you’ve always wondered what life on the seas is like, there really has never been a better time to give it a shot.

About The Author

Paul Edge, director of Cruise Club UK, has spent over 25 years working to improve the travel industry. A proud dad of two, when not in an exotic location user-testing one of his luxury cruises he’s exploring the world with kids in tow.

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