Full Uptight Position – The worst thing about a luxury cruise? The flight to get there.

Monday Mantra

Prepare for Takeoff…Prepare for Takeoff…Prepare for Takeoff…

Full Uptight Position

The worst thing about a luxury cruise? The flight to get there.

Countdown! A week from tomorrow, I’m off to Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2, rated the world’s best cruise ship by Berlitz. And already, I get it. Last week I received my documents — real documents — encased in a bright orange (okay, everything can’t be perfect) fabric clutch with magnetic closures. Along with the documents are flight confirmations, two honest-to-goodness luggage tags (also bright orange) and — this is a mindblower — my suite’s key card! I half expected a little German guy to leap out of the package, offer a flute of Champagne, and welcome me on board.

But before I experience the luxuries of the world’s best cruise ship, I have to suffer the indignities of traveling to Thessaloniki, Greece, to get to it. And that’s the problem.

I hate to fly. It’s the only thing that, simultaneously, bores me to tears and scares me to death. If I want to strap myself into a seat and soar into the heavens, I’ll go to Busch Gardens, thank you. Right now, I’m focused more on packing for the 12-hour flights (plural) to the ship than I am for the cruise: earplugs to block out the cranky toddlers, iPod and book for entertainment, sleep mask to thwart any chatty seatmates, protein bars to replace a meal that will likely look like something a cat threw up, chewing gum to help the ear pressure, and hand sanitizer because I have no idea where these people have been.

The only thing missing is drugs.

Now, no one is more vehemently opposed to drugs than I (the same bottle of Advil has been in my medicine chest for about five years), but when a long flight is on the agenda, it’s like I’m a heroin addict looking for a fix. I poll friends who might be willing to share a supply of Xanax, Valium, or — in a pinch — Ambien so I can down a couple at the airport and, hopefully, sleep for a good part of the journey. Thus far, my squeaky clean friends have been a woeful disappointment, producing only a near-empty bottle of chewable cherry-flavored melatonin and a few Zzzquil liquicaps, neither of which is going to zonk me out enough for serious trans-Atlantic slumber. (Note to self: Cultivate relationships with unsavory, pill-poppin’ characters prior to next long flight.)

So, here’s to finding that little “TSA Pre-Check” symbol on my boarding pass next week, an unexpected upgrade to first class, a flight attendant who’s not too judgmental when I order two little bottles of wine at a time, and, most of all, a cruise that makes a 12-hour journey to the ship all worthwhile.

And if Europa 2 can tone down that bright orange thing a bit, all the better.


— Judi Cuervo



How do you cope with long flights and jet lag? Share your tips in the comments below!

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.