Woman Lives on Cruise Ship, for $164K a Year

Lee Wachtstetter has sailed aboard the Crystal Serenity for almost 7 years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2015 11:48 AM CST
Updated Jan 24, 2015 11:03 AM CST
Woman Lives on Cruise Ship, for $164K a Year
This undated photo provided by Crystal Cruises shows the luxury ship Crystal Serenity in the waters off of Lisbon, Portugal.   (AP Photo/Crystal Cruises)

As far as repeat cruisegoers go, you'd be hard-pressed to beat the record of Lee Wachtstetter. The 86-year-old Florida woman logged 89 cruises with her husband of 50 years, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. After he died of cancer in 1997 (making her promise to keep cruising the day before he passed), "Mama Lee" traded her Fort Lauderdale home for one on the open seas. She tells the Asbury Park Press she spent three years aboard a Holland America ship but "the day they announced they were stopping the dance host program was the day I decided to leave." She has since spent almost seven years living on the Crystal Serenity (which, yes, has dance hosts to take the floor with the partner-less).

Her estimated 2015 cost: $164,000. That covers her seventh-deck stateroom, meals, gratuities, and, of course, all that sailing. She says she stopped counting countries after hitting 100 (she said she had completed 200 cruises in her first four years on the Crystal Serenity), but she typically no longer goes ashore when the liner docks—though she can't resist Istanbul and its Grand Bazaar. As she told the News-Herald in 2012, "Now I have arthritis and don't want to deal with cobblestones. I also don't use the stairs. I'm glad I can still dance and don't want to do anything to risk an injury that would keep me from it." The Press notes that three other women call a Crystal vessel home, but Mama Lee holds the longevity record. (In other cruise news, some diners may be tossing lobster overboard.)

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