Though Crystal would not reveal the cost of a unit, CEO Edie Rodriguez said it's targeting an affluent customer looking for a "new kind of second, third or even fourth luxury home." Ree said there's likely more demand and resale potential in China or London than in North America, however.
"Cruises can be dirt cheap and if you are willing to move from ship to ship, you can live fairly cheaply," said Allan Roth, principal at Wealth Logic, a Colorado-based financial planning firm. He said a permanent residence on a ship can be quite expensive.
"You're not going to do this because it's economical. It's because it's a lifestyle you want," Roth said, noting the average cost of one can be several million dollars and several hundred thousand dollars in annual fees. Since a ship is a depreciating asset requiring maintenance, it's also unlikely to recover a return on its resale.
Older people should also consider their health before long-term travel on a cruise ship, despite some lines offering well-equipped medical centers with nurses, doctors, X-ray machines, ICU units and pacemakers, Ree said.
"While I would love to [truly live aboard a cruise ship all year], it wouldn't make sense given my situation," said Al DiFlorio, who sees doctors regularly for a health issue.