Buddy On Board – We’ve been friends for 40 years. Our first cruise together should be just fine … right?

Monday Mantra

A New Shipmate!…A New Shipmate!…A New Shipmate!

Buddy On Board

We’ve been friends for 40 years. Our first cruise together should be just fine … right?

“Will there be fat people on the ship?”

“Are you bringing pantyhose?”

“Is there somewhere I can go and read at 3 in the morning if I wake up and can’t get back to sleep?”

These disjointed questions were at the forefront of my friend Carole’s mind as she considered joining me this November for a Caribbean sailing aboard SeaDream II. Even more curious, the questions were posed with such intensity that I had no doubt her decision hung completely on my responses and I had no idea what responses she was looking for, particularly with that pantyhose thing.

Here’s the story: Sue, my late husband’s cousin, discovered last week that she would be unable to take the cruise and I suddenly found myself paging through my address book seeking a shipmate whose family wouldn’t disown her for escaping Thanksgiving week, the turkey dinner, and Black Friday shopping excursions.

Carole, the mother of three, never entered my mind.

It was only after I learned that Mary would be in Florida, Eileen might be on a picket line, Debbie had to walk a neighbor’s dog (award to Debbie for LAMEST excuse, by the way), Stephen would be on a 48-day cruise, and Peggy just said no, that I remembered my husband once asking “What about Carole?” when I was confronted with sailing solo in the past. So I gave it a shot — and was pleasantly surprised.

Once I explained to Carole that cruisers come in all shapes and sizes (Carole feared she’d be the only chunky guest — fat chance), that I wouldn’t be packing pantyhose (the answer she was hoping for though even now I’m not sure why), and that reading in bed didn’t necessitate leaving the suite, Carole was on board. Literally — at least in November, she will be.

Now that I’ll be sailing with Carole, one of my oldest and dearest friends, I find myself thinking back over our 40 years of friendship. Carole was the one who got me drunk for the very first time. She’d convincingly tell the most undesirable of boys that I had a crush on them. She once bleached my eyebrows stark white, making my face expressionless until months later when my brows grew back. And she somehow convinced all her friends’ moms that she was the “good girl” of their daughters’ group while secretly causing the greatest havoc.

Half of me is thrilled that I’ll finally be sailing with one of my oldest and dearest friends for the first time … and the other half is scared to death.

— Judi Cuervo


Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.