What It’s Like for 86-Year Old Woman Living Aboard Luxury Cruise Ship

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Elderly woman pays $164G a year to live life of luxury on cruise ship.

An 86-year-old Florida widow has been living on the same cruise ship for nearly seven years — and she’s enjoying every minute of it, the Asbury Park Press reported. For one thing, she doesn’t actually live in Florida, and hasn’t for almost seven years, because she’s spent them aboard Crystal Serenity, a 1,070-passenger luxury cruise ship where she’s become a permanent resident, paying around $164,000 a year in “rent.” Wachtstetter, 86, is known as “Mama Lee” on the ship, and has been aboard for longer than most of its 655 crew members. Her six figure tab covers the costs of her seventh deck stateroom, all meals with beverages included, nightly ballroom dancing, Broadway-style shows, captain’s cocktail parties, movies, lectures and gratuities for the staff. I’ve done nearly a hundred more and 15 world cruises.” When asked how many countries she has visited, Wachtstetter told the paper: “I stopped counting after 100.

Just say I’ve been to almost any country that has a port.” Her favorite stop is Turkey, where she can’t get enough of the Grand Bazaar shopping center in Istanbul. Wachtstatter estimates that her “stress-free, fairy-tale” lifestyle will cost her $164,000 (£108,000) this year, which covers the cost of her single-occupancy cabin, meals in premium restaurants, gratuities and a variety of activities including ballroom dancing with cruise hosts and needlepoint classes. “I enjoy dancing, and this was the best of the remaining ships that still employ dance hosts,” Wachtstatter said. “My husband didn’t dance, just didn’t like to, and encouraged me to dance with the hosts.” While few have spent quite as long at sea, Wachtstatter isn’t the ship’s only full-time resident.

I have to restrain myself every time because of my limited cabin space.” What she misses most is her family, but manages to keep in touch with her three sons and seven grandchildren with her laptop computer. “I hear from one of them every day, and visit with them whenever we dock in Miami. However, she sees them whenever her cruise ship docks in Miami — which was at least five times last year. “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.” But she makes an exception for Istanbul, and “can’t resist the Grand Bazaar.” At night, Wachtstetter dines in the main dining room, and says she enjoys meeting new people.

Add council tax, gas, water and electricity bills, and groceries, and it’s not hard to see why some opt for a life afloat. “It’s not so unusual for men, women or couples who love cruising to take up residence on their favourite ship,” said Jane Archer, Telegraph Travel’s cruise expert. “Princess Cruises once told me there were more than 100 passengers living on their ships. “I can see the attraction. Plus you get to travel.” “It certainly beats being in a care home, but of course there could be problems for people if their health starts to deteriorate and they need a lot of medical attention.” Douglas Ward, author of the Berlitz guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships, adds: “It’s a safe, comfortable environment, the crew become your new friends, and medical facilities, should you need them, are close by. While many in their 80’s are frequently in and out of doctor’s officers, Wachtstetter credits good spirits and a great immune system for her good health aboard the Serenity. “All the time I’ve been here I have never had a sick day,” she said. “I’m so spoiled I doubt that I would ever be able to readjust to the real world again.” So, why not, particularly if you have no immediate family ties?” “My priorities on this ship are ballroom dancing, playing duplicate bridge, and trying not to eat – not necessarily in that order. I like all kinds of dancing, but right now I’m not dancing sambas or the cha cha – I don’t want to jump on my new hip just yet,” she told Telegraph Travel back in 2006.

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