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The story of Lee Wachtsetter, the American widow living on a luxury cruise ship at a cost of US$164,000 a year, has sparked a debate among our readers about a permanent life on the ocean waves.
Would you or wouldn’t you? The answer from almost 100% of the scores of comments on our Facebook page click here, was: “When do we start!”
Mrs Wachtsetter has been living on cruise ships since her husband’s death in 1997. And despite what sounds like a high cost, it actually works out at $500 a day.
Considering she had some of the finest food on the seas, wine, entertainment, service and the use of a luxury ship – not to mention the dance partners that Mrs Wachtsetter loved the most! – it could be said she had a bargain!
The 86-year-old grandma, who loves to dance, sold her five-bedroom Fort Lauderdale home set on 10-acres and moved to a stateroom aboard the Crystal Serenity.
The widow, known fondly as Mama Lee to the staff on Crystal Serenity, often cruised with her late husband of 50 years.
“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,” she told USA Today.
“My husband introduced me to cruising. Mason was a banker and real estate appraiser and taught me to love cruising. During our marriage we did 89-cruises I’ve done nearly 100 more and 15 world cruises.”
She first lived on a Holland America Line ship until it discontinued its dance program then made the move to Crystal Serenity.
The line’s reputation and its range of dance program is what attracted her to Crystal Serenity.
The line’s program includes Ambassador Hosts who teach dance to passengers who are travelling alone or with a partner who may not like dancing.
And this is exactly what drew Mama Lee to her current home.
“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.”
So how many countries has Mama Lee visited to be exact?
“I stopped counting after 100. Just say I’ve been to almost any country that has a port.”
The 11-year-old Crystal Serenity holds 1,070 passengers and is known for its luxurious options.
Cruisers are waited on hand and foot and are extremely attentive.
Our readers loved the story – and claimed there were definitely others enjoying a retirement aboard a cruise ship.
“About 4 years ago an English couple lived on an Australian P&O cruise ship. Every night when they went to the shows, their seats in the front row were reserved and the lady was given a rose. They were in their eighties,” wrote Wendy Le Bherz White
‪Ann Bennett wrote: “I heard of a woman that had bonus points from all her cruise trips, and they provided enough saving on fares for her to retire this way. Ships also have medical staff so that is a plus too.”
Pam Ryan maintained she was working towards it. “I started last year up for no 5 next month, two more before Xmas and Tahitian treasures and Alaska in 2016. My dream is coming together”
‪And Anne Smith said: “I spoke to a lady who was on a cruise we did, and she does the same thing. She said it is cheaper than living in a nursing home, mixes with younger people, has medical staff onboard if she needs anything and said it keeps her young and loved the life.”
Mollie Graham added: “My Dream all my life, whenever I had to fill in a form with the question “what is your occupation?” I longed to write “perpetual sea traveller.”
‪Cheri Williams too a very different view from most.
“How terribly sad,” she wrote. “
 Plenty of money – but no family/friends to spend her final years with. Paying for the company of strangers.”
Hear Angela Catterns of 2UE and Cruise Passenger editor Peter Lynch discuss this story here.