An 86-year-old widow from Florida may not have her husband any longer, but she is certainly never alone. Lee Wachstetter sold her home in Fort Lauderdale years ago after her husband passed away, and now she pays $164,000 per year to live on the luxury cruise line ship known as the Crystal Serenity.
KENS5 reported that Wachstetter is known as “Mama Lee” aboard the 11-year-old Crystal Serenity, and she has been living on the ship for the last seven year. She’s very well known by the crew and repeat passengers, and she’s loving her life.
“My husband introduced me to cruising. 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.”
During those nearly 100 cruises since the passing of her husband, she has been to numerous countries, but she “stopped counting after 100.” In all those cruises, she has been “to almost any country that has a port.”
As she has spent the last seven years on the Crystal Serenity, Wachstetter says she does miss her family, but uses her laptop to keep in touch with them. Her daughter has passed away as have most of her close friends from Fort Lauderdale.
She still speaks with her three sons and seven grandchildren over the Internet and visits with them when docking in Miami.
“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. 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.”
Per 9 News, Wachstetter estimates that 2015 will cost her $164,000 to live aboard the cruise line ship. That’s not too bad considering what she gets for the money including food, entertainment, and a lot of extras.
“…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…”
Wachstetter says that it was the dance program aboard the Crystal Serenity that really helped sell her on that cruise line. She says that her husband didn’t dance and encouraged her to dance with the hosts since she enjoys it.
Before the Crystal Serentiy, she lived on a ship in the Holland America fleet for three years. Once they announced that they were going to stop the dance program, the Florida widow was done living on that ship.
“I dance every night for a couple hours after dinner, have been doing it for years. And I’ve also trained with the ship’s dance instructors.”
She never gets bored as she always meets new people by dining at a table for eight. She enjoys doing needlepoint work and claims it is her “second love, have been doing it for 50 years.” All of her creations go to the crew members.
“The crew members bend over backwards to keep me happy. Some are almost like family now. If they don’t have what I want, they get it. even if they have to buy it off the ship or make it to my specific needs.”
As her 87th birthday approaches, Wachstetter is happy to say she has “never had a sick day” thanks to a good immune system. She believes this is how her life is meant to be, and she’s not thinking of changing it.
Living aboard the Crystal Serenity, she doubts she “would ever be able readjust to the real world again.” Paying $164,000 per year to live aboard the cruise ship is what works for her, and the crew do love her as they feel she is “just an amazing woman, one of a kind.”
[Image via Si Liberman/Ian Schemper]