First Time’s the Charm – Taking a friend on her very first cruise can be picture perfect.

Monday Mantra

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First Time’s the Charm

Taking a friend on her very first cruise can be picture perfect.

“I cannot BELIEVE I have to unwrap the new roll of toilet paper myself!”

Carole’s indignant objection boomed through the bathroom door of our suite aboard SeaDream II. I guess I should have expected it since that very afternoon, in the span of maybe 45 minutes, we enjoyed the ice cream that a waiter was offering to sunbathers around the pool, had our sunglasses cleaned by another, and our overheated bodies sprayed with cool water by a third. And Carole still hadn’t fully recovered from our outdoor breakfast where waiters carry guests’ buffet plates to a formally set table and present full menus in addition to the buffet offerings. Our waiter even peeled the top off the yogurt container for her.

If cruising with a first-timer is like seeing the world through the eyes of a child, cruising SeaDream II with a first-timer is like seeing Disneyland, a puppy, snowflakes, a birthday cake, chocolate chip cookies, and an elaborately decorated Christmas tree through the eyes of a child.

Carole and I have been friends for over 40 years, but that in no way guaranteed our travel compatibility. Would she snore? Would she want to sleep until noon? Would she be prone to seasickness? As a non-drinker, would she object to me downing a few? Most important, would she hate cruising? No. No. No. No. And definitely no. In fact, if Carole’s photography skills didn’t positively suck, she would be my ideal travel companion.

Now, I’m not obsessed with photos — certainly nowhere near as obsessed as the woman at Little Dix Bay who pretty much spent the whole day posing with a selfie stick (and, lady, that guy is way too old for you) — but, seriously, what would you think if you asked a friend to take photos of you soaring across the ocean atop one of SeaDream II’s fabulous Jet Skis and these are what you got?:

But now that I’m home, I realize Carole more than compensated for this shortcoming by squealing with pleasure at every meal (often using an expletive to communicate the deliciousness of a dish), staring in open-mouth wonder at the stars, marveling at the pristine, turquoise blue waters, and taking extreme delight in everything from the extraordinary (like “Champagne & Caviar in the Surf” at SeaDream’s beach barbecue) to the mundane (such as tendering and our toilet’s thunderous vacuum flush)Judi-Carole. And she was totally indifferent to the fact that half the people on board thought we were gay.

So let’s welcome a new fan to the world of cruising! She may never top her first cruise but, hopefully, photographs of her future sailings will get a whole lot better.

— 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.