Posted by: ritagone | March 25, 2015

At Sea

I often cut and paste interesting articles and keep them in a file on my computer desktop. In StrengthsFinders testing, my #1 strength is Input, meaning that I like to collect data, do research, study, get to the bottom of things. So when something written darticle-2377809-1AFD910A000005DC-533_634x475own strikes my fancy for whatever reason, I save it so that I can use it somewhere appropriate at a future date.

Recently I captured this article and filed it away, so I thought I’d let you read it today:

“’Widow is living the rest of her life on cruise ships.’

         A retired Florida widow is living the rest of her life on a luxury cruise.

         As the Asbury Park Press reports, after her husband died in 1997, 86-year-old Lee Wachtsetter sold their five-bedroom Fort Lauderdale-area home (which sat on ten acres of land) and set out for a life on the sea.

         Now, for more than $160,000 a year, she lives aboard the Crystal Serenity.

        Mama Lee, (as she’s called on the ship) told the paper, ‘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.’ First she lived on a Holland America cruise liner, but after they cancelled her favorite dance program, she jumped ship. Since then she’s lived on the Serenity. In fact, she’s lived on the boat longer than most of the 655 crew members.

         At this point, she’s lost count of the number of countries she’s visited and rarely steps off the boat. When most passengers leave, she feels as if she has the entire ocean liner to herself.

         However, a life on the sea does have a cost. Mama Lee says she misses her family and, with all the readily available food, she’s put on 25 pounds.

         ‘I do love to eat and regularly dine at a table for eight,’ she says. ‘You meet interesting passengers, and I’ve made lots of new friends that way.’

         Wachtsetter is looking forward to her 87th birthday, and her seventh year aboard the Serenity.”


         This article saddened me. While traveling on a luxury liner for a short time sounds glamorous and fun, after a few months or – come on! – a few years, I think I’d really like to be on solid land, with the same people around me and the same sights, not to mention not having to regularly practice lifeboat maneuvers.

She pays more than $160,000 a year to live on the ship; surely there are better ways to spend your money, even if by the time you’re pushing 87 this is no longer a primary issue, since it’s obvious that Mrs. Wachtsetter doesn’t have to worry about her pennies and nickels.

But isn’t someone somewhere missing her, wishing they could have a quiet dinner with her? Aren’t there grandchildren who are wanting more than a postcard from Greece from Grammy? Doesn’t anyone care enough to ask her to settle down and stay in one place on dry land? And doesn’t she long for some continuing friendships rather than the passing relationships of passengers who literally come and go?

What do you think about this article? What kind of emotion does it engender in your heart? I’m curious to see if those of you reading this think this is the most carefree, wonderful way to spend the remaining years of your life (assuming you can afford it, of course) or find it terribly sad and depressing. I’d love to hear from you.



  1. I’d have to shoot myself. For all the reasons you said and more. It’s not my place to judge her, but what she says reveals a lot about her heart. I’m not hearing much about compassion and generosity or relationship. Will she hear “well done, good and faithful servant” when she meets her Maker? But more importantly, am I living in such a way that the Lord will say that to me?

    Rightsize Without Compromise


  2. It seems like a very sad way of life to me; I’d been thinking that before I got to the end of your article. It seems she has chosen a false sense of community and adopted a false sense of adventure (she doesn’t even get off the ship and explore the lands she visits!). She sounds lonely and lost to me.

  3. Hi, Rita, This was an interesting article. When I read it, I was impressed about the satisfaction she got with this life style of meeting people and seeing so much of our earth. It could be that she has no family or at least one that is far away or inattentive to her presence which would make it understandable that she loves the attention she gets on board. And some people are good at short relationships but not so much when it goes on and on with the same people. Whatever the case, I loved the happiness she gets with this lifestyle. Good for her. Cathy

    • I like this perspective, Cathy. Thanks for posting it. I saw it as pretty negative, so I’m glad you saw it as more positive.

  4. I’ve heard people say that it’s cheaper to live on a cruise ship than in a nursing home- though I’ve never checked that out to make sure. I’d much rather live on the ship with people that are excited then in a place where people are waiting to die… having said that, I can’t believe she doesn’t get off and see her family. But then maybe they don’t care. If you were a believer what a ministry you could have to the crew and your captive audience, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case for her either. I guess it’s a case of “to each their own”.

  5. My initial response was good on her! Some of Al’s dad’s friends spend most of the year on one cruise or another, and they love it! For them it is about living life to the full and seeing as much as they can. They also enjoy family when they are home, but “cruising” is how they have chosen to live, for them at least it doesn’t seem to have stopped them having ongoing connection with their family or community at home. Perhaps, as Cathy said, this lady might not have any family, or she might do better with shorter term connections.

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