Lee Wachtstetter decided that she needed a life change after the passing of her husband. She took her daughter’s advice and sold her five bedroom house and 10 acres in Ft. Lauderdale and never looked back. Instead, Lee gazes out over the open waters on a regular basis after she took up permanent residence on a cruise ship!
“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.”
Lee has been living on the Crystal Serenity for almost a decade – longer than most of it’s 600+ crew members. She’s been to so many countries that she’s stopped counting!
The cost for living full-time on a cruise ship? Lee estimates it’s around $164,000 per year. Of course, she has been able to enjoy a larger stateroom, specialty meals plan, gratuities, and nightly ballroom dancing. She also partakes in cocktails with the captain, lectures and other special programs like having dance hosts.
“I enjoy dancing, and this was the best of the remaining ships that still use dance hosts. My husband didn’t dance, just didn’t like to, and encouraged me to dance with the hosts.
Crystal Serenity is one of the few ships that still offer the option of dance hosts for single guests. Prior to Lee’s living on the Crystal Serenity, she was aboard the Holland America but left when they cancelled their dance hosts option.
“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.”
Lee has made such an impression that the Filipino crew members gave her the nickname “Mama Lee” which is considered a high compliment in their culture. Since moving on the cruise ship, Lee views the crew as her family. They share about each other’s families and important events. Lee has 3 sons and grown grandchildren that she keeps up with them almost daily, usually by email. When her ship is in the Miami port, they come aboard to have dinner and catch up on each other’s lives. Her daughter that encouraged her to make this lifestyle change passed away a few years ago.
Mama Lee credits her long life to a good immune system and daily dance regimen.
“I dance every single day at 5:15, 7 days a week. I think I live a fairy-tale existence. It’s not a real life, I realize that. Not everybody does this. But a lot of people could.”
WATCH: This 88-Year-Old Lives Full-time On A Cruise Ship
credit: CBS This Morning