If you love cruises, the idea of living on a cruise ship has probably crossed zour mind. To most, it sounds like an unrealistic fantasy. But there are people who do live on ships. The record belongs to American retiree Lee Wachtstetter, who has been traveling around the world on a cruise ship for 12 years.
With her husband, Mason, they lived happily for 50 years. Sadly, he died in 1997 of cancer. The couple were avid cruisers, having taken 89 cruises. The first one they took was back in 1962. The day before he died, he told Lee, "Don't stop cruising." So when she was widowed, she continued to travel alone. In 2005, Lee sold her home in Florida for $1 million and became a permanent resident on Holland America Line's Prinsendam liner.
Many people would like to live on a cruise ship to see the world. But constant travel was not a core value for Mama Lee, a nickname given to her by a Filipino steward. For her, life on the ship is above all an opportunity to dance. Some ships have a "gentleman hosts" service where male crew members dance with single ladies. And, as a widow, she needed partners to quench her insatiable passion for ballroom dancing. Even last year she still danced every day.
But she does not live like a movie star. Her home is a 88-square-feet windowed stateroom in the middle of the ship on Deck 7. And while it's well located, it's not a stateroom with a balcony or a suite. "I don't need a butler, a Jacuzzi or extra space," Ms. Wachtstetter says. "All I do in my room is sleep."
In addition to dancing, Lee spends her time doing her favorite crafts, watching movies in the living room, and taking various classes. She eats lunch at the always-booked table for eight so she can mingle with new passengers.
The crew treats her like a queen. During this time, she has gone ashore in dozens of ports around the world, but now when the ship calls at another port, she mostly stays on board.
She keeps in touch with her three sons and six grandchildren through Facebook and visits them when Crystal Serenity visits the port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She also has friends who book cruises on the liner to spend time with her.
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