88-Year-Old Retires and Lives on Cruise Ship Year Round

For some people, when retirement comes, that means moving into a retirement home and slowing down the pace of life a little bit. But not for 88-year-old Lee Wachtstetter. She chose to travel the world and she’s able to do that without ever even leaving the ship.

Wachtstetter is a permanent resident on the cruise ship Crystal Serenity. She has been living full time on the ship for the past eight years, and to the crew members, she is simply known as Mama Lee.  Wachtstetter was a recent cruise passenger for years, and along with her husband, they completed more than one hundred cruises together to all parts of the world. After his death in 1997, Lee kept a promise she made to him to continue cruising.

She started cruising frequently but quickly grew tired of all of the packing and unpacking and tried to find a more stable way to cruise. Eventually, Wachtstetter sold her home in Florida, her car and most of her possessions and moved onto a cruise ship full time. Cruising is ideal for her because all of the cooking, cleaning, shopping and entertainment is all provided. She isn’t even really interested in where the ship is heading out on a trip, since she prefers the empty ship when everyone is out being a tourist.

Wachtstetter maintains her health by dancing every single day in the early evening and always has a willing dance partner along the crew members. She apparently speaks to her family every single day, and is a great-grandmother who “loves babies.”

In total, she has completed about two hundred and forty cruises around the globe, with an annual price tag of $175,000. She believes that her life would be “very boring” if she ever moved to a retirement facility. When the ship is in dry dock for maintenance, Wachtstetter is simply escorted to another boat nearby until the ship is ready to depart again.