How the FIRE Movement can help folks live out their Cruise Ship Retirement Dreams

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By Evan Kaur

(Special to Financial Independence Hub)

Imagine waking up to new horizons each day, with the promise of adventure and luxury at your fingertips. For many, retiring and spending their golden years exploring the world from the comfort of a cruise ship is the ultimate dream, and some are turning it into a reality.

Citing data from the Cruise Lines International Association, MoneyDigest highlights that 50% of the 20.4 million people who took a cruise in 2022 were over the age of 50, while 32% were over 60. However, it’s also important to note that this lifestyle is not attainable for everybody.

A poll conducted by the National Institute on Retirement Security finds that more than half of Americans (55%) are concerned that they cannot achieve financial security in retirement, much less afford to live on a cruise ship. That’s where the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement comes into play. In this article, we’ll explore why so many are drawn to retiring at sea and how the FIRE strategy can help folks achieve enough financial security to live out their cruise ship retirement dreams.

The Appeal of Cruise Ship Retirement

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Retiring on a cruise ship is an attractive option for those who seek adventure, comfort, and a unique globetrotting lifestyle, but its biggest draw is that it can be more affordable than retired life on land.

According to an article from CNBC, the average annual cost to retire comfortably in the U.S. can be anywhere between US$55,074 and $121,228, depending on which state you choose to live in. These numbers factor in living costs, including groceries, healthcare, housing, utilities, and transportation.

Meanwhile, the 2021 national average for a private room in a nursing home was estimated to cost $108,405 per year. By contrast, Business Insider reports that cruise ship companies looking to capitalize on the retirees-at-sea trend now offer fully furnished homes aboard their ships for roughly US$43 a day or less.

Storylines, for instance, is a residential community at sea that sells leasehold agreements for 12, 24, or 60 years for a flat fee. Aside from featuring fully furnished homes at sea, the ship boasts a movie theater, three swimming pools, 20 restaurants, and a wellness center.

For retirees with a penchant for the finer things in life, cruises by Explora offer a glimpse into the lavish life retirees can enjoy. These luxury cruises provide an all-inclusive experience with top-notch amenities such as gourmet dining, world-class entertainment, wellness programs, and spacious accommodations. Retirees can indulge in fine dining every day, participate in enrichment programs that keep both body and mind active, and enjoy travel experiences to destinations like Morocco, Barcelona, and Istanbul, all while using special offers to make the most of each trip.

All these features are rarely found in aging-in-place and nursing home setups, which is another reason why cruise ship retirement plans appeal to older adults who want to get more value for their money.

Bridging FIRE and Cruise Ship Retirement

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The FIRE movement is a lifestyle and financial strategy that emphasizes extreme saving and investing to attain financial independence as quickly as possible.

The basic premise is to save a significant portion of your income – often 50% or more – and invest it wisely to grow your savings rapidly.

In a previous article, we looked at the case of a Canadian couple wanting to attain FIRE by age 50. To meet this goal, we suggested strategies like having an emergency fund to avoid dipping into savings, maximizing contributions to their Tax-Free Savings Account (TSFA), and starting a Registered Savings Plan (RESP) for their child.

Similarly, those who aim for cruise-ship retirement can practice FIRE principles. This includes saving a large percentage of your income to help build your nest egg faster.

Many FIRE advocates also put their money in passively managed index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). ETFs can be traded just like stocks and purchased for the price of a single share or less. That makes it easy to diversify your portfolio with even a small amount of money.

Lastly, embracing a minimalist lifestyle can help reduce expenses and accelerate savings. This doesn’t mean depriving yourself but rather making conscious choices about spending that can put you closer to achieving FIRE and retirement at sea.

The dream of retiring early and living out your golden years on a cruise ship is more attainable than ever, thanks to the principles of the FIRE movement. Want to learn more about how to adopt a disciplined approach to saving and investing? Check out more of what we have to offer here on the Financial Independence Hub.

Evan Kaur is a dedicated personal finance writer and passionate advocate of the FIRE movement. Financial planning is one of his hobbies – which is why he aims to make complex concepts and strategies more accessible for readers seeking financial peace of mind.

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