Meet Mama Lee: the Queen of Cruise Ships

Jan 20, 2015 at 8:03 pm |
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Some people only dream of taking a vacation aboard a cruise ship, but for 86-year-old Lee Wachtstetter, cruising is an everyday reality.

News about this bighearted grandmother’s elegant and carefree lifestyle is going viral today, years after a blogger posted about the time she spent with “Mama Lee.” For the past decade, Wachtstetter has been living on luxury cruise ships; she has been a permanent member of the Crystal Serenity for the past seven years.

According to her estimates, Lee spends about $164,000 to live in a stateroom full-time. Her fees include room and board, her meals, drinks, other activities on the ship, and nightly dancing. In her own words, “For the past 15 years, dancing has become a great part of my life. When I cannot dance, I will probably stop cruising.” Don’t take these words lightly! After spending 3 years aboard a different liner, she immediately left following the cancellation of their dance host program.

After Lee’s husband died of cancer in 1997, one of her children encouraged her to pack up and move onto a ship. The Wachtstetter’s were big cruisers in their time, and Mama Lee reports that she has been on more than 283 cruises since 1962. In fact, she is now such a cultured world traveler that she hardly gets off at port. Her familiarity with the foreign marinas of the world won’t stop her from exploring Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar or admiring any exotic Asian destinations.

Having been aboard the Crystal Serenity longer than most of its crew members, Lee sounds like the perfect companion to meet serendipitously while sailing. $164,000 certainly doesn’t sound like a bad deal when you’re able to travel the world nonstop surrounded by a constantly changing assortment of new friends.


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