Cost of Cruising

Sailors often ask what the cost of cruising as a lifestyle would be? 

There is no correct answer! From a shoestring budget to a relatively extravagant lifestyle it depends entirely on the sailors, their financial situation at the time, how they like to live, what they will compromise on and what they will not live without.

That is up to the individual ... we are all different. There are a number of important factors that have to be taken into consideration. Let’s look at them!

Cruisers come in many different categories:


  • Ones who have sold up to sail, and have some savings!
  • Sailors who have retired with pensions they will live on!
  • Those who have an income or are able to work from a yacht like working from home!
  • Many who have to take breaks to build up the ‘kitty!’
  • The lucky ones who have found alternative ways ‘to live the dream’ what options have they found?

If you have a suitable yacht for cruising that’s a very good start. If not and you need professional advice on buying a yacht, how-to articles and tips are offered for free.  

Some like the sailor in the small and unique sail boat I pictured in the Whitsunday Islands  ... his cost of cruising as a lifestyle would be extreme budget.

Questions that need to be answered:


  • Are you able to handle maintenance and basic repairs yourself?
  • Is it likely your boat will need a haul out in the future, when is it due for the next antifoul; will you do it and what about emergencies?
  • Will you be looking at cheap flights  back to your home or family?
  • Do you like to dine out at times or go on sightseeing tours? 

"Living the life you want ... is just a matter of choosing to make it a reality!" - Leyland Van De Wall

It comes back to desire. If you really want to go cruising your budget whatever it may be will fit into place, you will make sacrifices and improvise so you can live your desired lifestyle.  And that would be your individual cost of cruising.

Low budget cruisers can live on small fixed incomes such as a pension, living extremely simply with none of life’s luxuries. It is the freedom and pleasure of the cruising life that give them satisfaction.

For others a reasonable budget can range between $15,000 and $30,000 a year and more. It means focusing on good money management, preventive maintenance and being true to your values.

Cost of Cruising & Food Budget: 


Food is individual and costs vary between cold and warm climates and coastal or off shore sailing. If you have good storage some things can be bought in bulk or even shared between several other sailors.

Shop where the locals shop it’s always cheaper than the smaller stores on the tourist strips. Meat keeps better and is tender when vacuum packed.

At some islands you can exchange goods for fruit, vegetables and seafood’s. For example at Minerva Reef on the way to Tonga we swapped cans of beer for whole lobsters.

To keep the cost of cruising down buy fruit and veggies that are in season at markets and long life vegetables like potatoes, pumpkins, onions and garlic can be bought in a bigger supply.

If you’re lucky to catch a few fish it’s a great supplement for meat that may be expensive in some areas.

One of the ‘must haves’ in the galley is a pressure cooker. It saves time, money and in the tropics is so fast in cooking it keeps the heat down in the cabin.

A pressure cooker makes a great pot roast, can turn cheaper cuts of meat into tender and savory meals. Try baking bread in it if you don’t have an oven. 

Dining Out & Entertainment:

Dining out and entertainment can vary enormously depending on sailors and just where you happen to be.

If you go out for lunches, or a ‘take away’ that you can eat down on a beach with a bottle of wine it is far cheaper.

In a different country part of the fun of cruising is tasting the local cuisine. Some countries are fantastic with cafes and delicious meals and it doesn’t break the budget.

With other places you may need to budget more money for eating out and that will determine the cost of cruising!

Drink Budget!

We’re talking about alcohol ... vino ... grog...!!

This is very individual and varies in different countries. This budget can shrink and expand depending on your social life and if you’re on an extended cruise.

For me I rarely if ever drink any alcohol while sailing and that’s a never if I’m solo sailing. When I’m at anchor or at a marina now that’s a different story.

I have heard of many sailors who brew their own beer , spirits or wine. Much cheaper on the budget! And prices vary in different countries.

The most famous I have heard of is Chichester who was assisted by hand pumped Whitbread beer during his round the world voyage on board Gypsy Moth IV.

Spotted loading supplies of Gin on to the yacht before setting off from Plymouth, he commented: “Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk.”

Not recommended!! He was unique!


Calculate the cost of  a cruising life, starting with the food and alcohol when land based and as a guide! And keep the dream alive, research, learn, and entertain yourself with some great DVD's! 

Calculate the cost of the cruising life and if you are going to be spending time at marinas or at anchorages.

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