Retired on a Cruise Ship

From the Shipmate Archives. Originally published March 10, 2015. 

Cruise Ship Retirement-Well Done, Mama Lee

They call her “Mama Lee” – this 86 year old woman has been living on the Crystal Serenity cruise ship for the past seven years at a cost of $164k per year… that’s over $1M in cruises!

Lee made the choice to move offshore following the death of her husband. The two were married roughly 50 years and he had introduced her to cruising decades ago. Together, they sailed 89 times. According to Lee, “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.”  Since his passing, she’s been on over 100 additional cruises (12 of which were “World Voyages”).

“I’ve been to almost any country that has a port,” Lee said. Among the hundreds of ports she’s visited, the Asian ports have interested her the most because “they’re so different from America.” These days, she rarely gets off of the ship, though. Having stopped at nearly every port multiple times, she prefers to hang out on the ship while her ship mates are out and about. She particularly enjoys having the ship to herself – “it’s so quiet, and I have almost the whole ship for myself,” she notes.

What does Mama Lee do all day on the Serenity? You can typically find her in the ship’s public areas, doing needlework. “It’s my second love, have been doing it for 50 years. I’ve even helped teach it to some passengers. Everything I make I give to crew members. Gives me great pleasure.”

So, what’s her first love, you might be wondering? It’s actually dancing, believe it or not. “I dance every night for a couple of hours after dinner, have been doing it for years. And I’ve also trained with the ship’s dance instructors,” Lee says.

For those that aren’t aware, some ships have “hosts.” According to the cruise line:

“On every sailing, Crystal is pleased to offer a host program that includes carefully screened gentlemen with interests and backgrounds similar to those of our guests. Each distinguished Ambassador Host is cultured, well traveled and an accomplished ballroom dancer.” The host program was a critical factor in Lee’s decision to make this ship her new home.

Prior to her extended stay on the Serenity, Lee lived on a Holland America ship for roughly three years. When the ship did away with the Gentleman Host Program, Lee immediately decided she’d “move” and has since been on the Serenity.

One question we’re dying to know – is Mama Lee a Ship Mate user? Click “like” below if you think a cruise ship beats a retirement home!


Original story and Image from USA Today.

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