How Much Does a Burial at Sea Cost?

As more and more people choose cremation over burial (due to many factors, including cremation cost), families are looking for special ways to memorialize their loved one using their cremated ashes. One option that is very common is performing a water burial. While some families will scatter ashes in the water, most will use a special biodegradable water urn designed to dissolve and release the ashes into the water. The cost of a water burial, or burial at sea, varies from as little as the cost of the cremation to over $5,000. Below we’ve highlighted some of the more popular ways families do a water burial and the cost associated with each option.

Cost of a Water Burial

water burial cost

There are many ways families perform water burials or burials at sea. One of the more popular options is for family and friends to assemble on a boat and conduct a burial at sea (an attended water burial). Another option is for families to hire a service that will perform the scattering for them from a boat without family present (an unattended water burial). Many families who choose to do an attended water burial will hold a service on the boat prior, during and/or after the scattering. Families who decide on an unattended water burial will commonly view the boat from shore and have a service or celebration there.

Attended Water Burial Cost

There are hundreds of boating services throughout the U.S. that offer attended water burials with most harbors having multiple options. Many of these services also use their boats for other purposes such as fishing charters, harbor cruises, whale watching, etc. so it may be a good idea to ask around to see who can offer such a service. The average cost of an attended water burial at sea ranges from $500 to upwards of $2,000, depending on the time involved, size of boat and number of people attending. If you are bringing a large group, it is important that you plan ahead and make sure the boating service you choose can accommodate the number of people in your group. If you have a specific place in mind for the water burial, it is also important to know up-front if the boating service is willing to go there. Many families who choose to have an attended water burial will also bring a religious person on the boat to conduct a ceremony. Music, speakers, food, and drinks can also typically be arranged. In addition, many boating services will offer a menu to accommodate different interests, religions, or ethnicities. One that is quite common for both military and civilian mariners is a service called the Mariner’s Farewell. This includes reading a verse during the sea burial and having the bell on the ship toll eight times. People attending a Mariner’s Farewell typically toss flowers into the water as part of the final sendoff.

Unattended Water Burial Cost

An unattended water burial involves hiring a service to take your loved one’s ashes and perform the water burial without family or friends present. The average cost of an unattended water burial at sea ranges from $200 to $400. This can be a much more affordable option than an attended water burial but still give peace of mind for many knowing that their loved one is memorialized in this way. It is also a wonderful option for families that may not be comfortable on a boat. Many families who do this will hold a service or celebration on the shore on the day of the water burial, while others will do this at their church, home or other place of their choosing.

Ceremonies

Many families who do a water burial of a loved one will also have a ceremony on the boat or shore. A simple ceremony involving a few people paying their respects can cost very little, while a more elaborate ceremony with a larger group can cost thousands of dollars. If you want to hold a ceremony, you can be creative and design it according to your budget.

Many ceremonies will allow family and friends to share stories about the loved one who passed and reflect on who that person was and what he or she meant to them. The water burial event itself is also commonly part of the ceremony (if attended) where family can all be involved in the process. For people of the Christian faith, a minister will typically lead the ceremony with prayers, a scripture and/or eulogies. Sometimes families and friends will also toss rose petals or other flowers into the water, or release doves.

Themed Celebration

Many families will choose to plan an event around the actual water burial. Sometimes families will choose an activity that their loved one enjoyed to honor them. For example, if they loved to fish, maybe have friends or family spend the day deep-sea fishing. If they were always happy and loved life, a fireworks display over water could be a great way to celebrate their life. If the person loved to spend time at the beach, many families will hold a bonfire on the beach with family and friends present. The cost of a themed celebration depends on what you choose to do and and it will depend on the activity and how much is involved. 

Cost of the Urn for a Water Burial

There are several options for what to use to perform a water burial. Some families choose to use a simple container with a lid that they may have around the house to scatter ashes in water, while others choose to use a biodegradable urn designed specifically for water burials. Biodegradable urns designed for water burials range in price from $59 to $250 and make for an affordable option for most families.

Biodegradable Water Urns

The Living Urn recently developed an eco-friendly biodegradable urn designed specifically for water burials called the Eco Water Urn. This attractive and unique patent pending urn costs $129 and is all-natural (made from plant materials). It floats like a buoy for a few minutes then gracefully frees the ashes, allowing them to disperse into the water.

The Eco Water Urn comes packaged in a unique eco-friendly bamboo casing, which makes for easy transport to the water (and is also a great decorative piece used in ceremonies!). Some families will even write messages on the Eco Water Urn with a marker before the ceremony. With its excellent functionality and beautiful appearance (in addition to being affordable), the Eco Water Urn has quickly become the leading choice of funeral homes.

Scattering Urns

There are also a number of scattering urn options available that give families the ability to scatter ashes in water or other place of their choosing. One option that’s growing in popularity is the Eco Scattering Urn. This unique, patented cylinder shaped bamboo urn comes in four sizes ranging from $49 to $79. One important feature of this special urn is its proprietary open and close mechanism on the top which allows families to scatter with control and grace. The unique top also secures ashes for easy transport to that special location for scattering.

Do You Have the Budget for a Water Burial?

A water burial can be done for anyone on any budget. It can be as extravagant or as simple as the family wants or can afford. Regardless of how much is spent, a water burial will be a beautiful choice as it brings families together outdoors, in a setting with the ocean, lake, or river. While they can cost thousands of dollars for large group on a boat, small simple ceremonies can be conducted in a naturally beautiful location for very little. If your loved one had a special connection with the ocean or a body of water, a water burial can be a wonderful choice and you can create a special day to honor their memory regardless of how much is spent.