This 88-Year-Old Woman Retired on a Cruise Ship


Traveling the world is the dream of many. You’ve probably imagined taking off on a plane or in your car, setting out from your normal life to see what the world has to offer. More often than not, you put those pipe dreams to bed – after all, most of us have mortgages, bills, families, kids, and other responsibilities that are keeping us at home. But Lee Wachtstetter has found a way to travel the world luxuriously, without ever leaving home. How does she do it, you ask? Well, she’s made one of the most popular ways to travel her permanent residence.

Cruise ships are one of the best – and nicest – ways to see the world. For a pretty price, these ships will take you just about anywhere you can imagine, with all food, bedding, and on-board entertainment included. Of the 24 million people who cruise every year, more than a quarter of these sea-goers are age 60 or older, and more than one-fifth are retired. So, clearly, many retirees consider these luxe boats their home away from home.

Well, Lee Wachtstetter just considers them her home!

Lee walking on cruise ship.CBS News

The 88-year-old Florida widow kept her final promise to her deceased husband, Mason Wachtstetter, but choosing a very unusual means of retirement: living on cruise ship. Mason had introduced Lee to cruising and it was something the couple did for 50 years together. Right before he died, Mason made Lee promise that she wouldn’t stop cruising – and that was a promise she intended to keep.

At first, Lee kept on their normal schedule. She lived in their five-bedroom Fort Lauderdale-area home on 10 acres of land, and went cruising when the mood struck her. But after a while, Lee grew annoyed with having to pack and unpack for each journey. So Lee decided the best solution would be to never leave the cruise ship at all.

After selling her house, car, and nearly all her worldly possessions, Lee became a permanent resident of the luxury cruise ship the Crystal Serenity.

Mama Lee, as she’s known aboard the 11-year-old ship, has been living on the 1,070-passenger vessel longer than most of its 655 crew members for nearly eight years. And it’s essentially the best retirement of all time; she doesn’t have to cook or clean, and she can do whatever she wants, whenever she wants to.

88-year-old woman who lives on cruise ship.CBS News

Not to mention the places and sights Mama Lee gets to experience. During her 50-year marriage to Mason, they did 89 cruises. Since his passing, Mama Lee has done nearly hundred additional cruises, including 15 world cruises.

How many visited countries does that add up to?

“I stopped counting after 100,” She admits to CBS news. “Just say I’ve been to almost any country that has a port.”

Lee has even stopped going on-shore when the ship docks now, because she has most likely been to the country several times. In fact, she likes it when everyone has left the ship to tour – that means she gets the whole boat to herself. Needless to say, this is the perfect retirement for Mama Lee and she has got it all figured out. The crew of ship loves Lee as much as she loves them! The captain said she’s a “wonderful person” and a “diva – in a good way.” Everyone knows and respects Mama Lee – to us, it sounds like she runs the ship!

What an incredible story. It’s joruneys like this that inspire you to think outside the box and live life the way YOU want, not the way you think you “supposed” to! What do you think of Mama Lee’s choice for retirement? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.