For seven years and counting, Florida widow, Lee Wachtstetter, has been living on the Crystal Serenity cruise ship. After the death of her husband in 1997, the 86-year-old woman sold her five bedroom Fort Lauderdale area home on 10 acres and became a permanent luxury cruise ship resident.
“My husband introduced me to cruising,” Mama Lee, her title on-board, explained in an interview. “Mason was a banker and real estate appraiser and taught me to love cruising. During our 50-year marriage we did 89 cruises. I’ve done nearly a hundred more and 15 world cruises.”
While Mama Lee has lost count “after 100,” she says, “just say I’ve been to almost any country that has a port.” Of the many, she feels that the most interesting have been the nations in Asia because they’re so different from America.
Instead of revisiting each port, she opts to stay on the ship. “It’s so quiet, and I have almost the whole ship for myself.”
Despite her stress-free living, Wachtstetter does admit to missing her family. To stay in touch with her three sons and seven grandchildren, she uses her laptop. “I hear from one of them everyday, and visit with them whenever we dock in Miami. Last year we docked in Miami five times.”
“When my children were all young, I took them on cruises many times. Now they have families of their own and do what’s right for them.”
Included in Mama Lee’s $164K stay is: her single-occupancy seventh deck stateroom, regular and specialty restaurant meals with available lunch and dinner beverages, gratuities, nightly ballroom dancing with dance hosts and Broadway-caliber entertainment — as well as the captain’s frequent cocktail parties, movies, lectures, plus other scheduled daily activities.
“All the time I’ve been here I have never had a sick day,” she recalls. “I’m so spoiled I doubt that I would ever be able to readjust to the real world again.”
“The day before my husband died of cancer in 1997, he told me, ‘Don’t stop cruising.’ So here I am today living a stress-free, fairy-tale life.”