The day before Lee Wachstetter’s husband died of cancer in 1997 he gave her a piece of advice.
“Don’t stop cruising,” he said.
And she listened.
USA Today reports 86-year-old Wachstetter has been cruising non-stop for over 10 years. This year she expects she will spend $164,000 to live permanently aboard Crystal Cruise Line’s ship, Crystal Serenity.
Shortly after she was widowed, Wachstetter said her daughter convinced her to sell her Fort Lauderdale, Florida home and move aboard a ship to do what she loved most.
“My husband introduced me to cruising,” Wachstetter said during a recent interview. “Mason was a banker and real estate appraiser and taught me to love cruising. During our 50-year marriage we did 89 cruises. I've done nearly a hundred more and 15 world cruises.”
She says she stays aboard mainly for the dancing. Crystal is among the last cruise lines to provide “dance hosts” who stand in as dance partners for those traveling alone.
Wachstetter has been a regular of the hosts for decades.
“I enjoy dancing, and this was the best of the remaining ships that still use dance hosts,” she said. “My husband didn't dance, just didn't like to, and encouraged me to dance with the hosts.”
The hosts mean a lot to her.
When The News-Herald of Ohio caught up to Wachstetter in 2012 to do a story about her, she explained that she first lived aboard a Holland America Line ship and danced with their hosts.
“But when they discontinued having dance hosts, I began to cruise with Crystal,” she said.
Wachstetter said she corresponds with her children and adult grandchildren on a regular basis and they encourage her to keep doing what she is doing.
She sees them when the ship docks in Miami and she arranges for them to come aboard for meals.
She told The News-Herald that they do occasionally tease her about being homeless though.
“I tell them I may no longer have my home, but you should just see my yacht,” she said.