Nothing to Declare but Décor

Monday Mantra

Nothing to Declare but Décor

Pack light on the way out … so you can pack heavy coming home!

I will bring my cruise home with me…I will bring my cruise home with me…I will bring my cruise home with me….

“Do you have any alcohol or cigarettes?” the customs officer barked. At the time the question was posed, I was clutching under my left arm a 4-foot-long, carved wooden panel that I picked up in Honduras (and which weighed a ton) and, in my right hand, was the handle of a suitcase that was nearly bursting with a 10-day-Caribbean-cruise worth of shoes, clothing, and toiletries. I was really curious as to where this officer thought I could have stashed cartons of Marlboros and a couple of fifths of Beefeater, but didn’t ask since it’s really not a good idea to challenge a customs guy. Sorry, officer. You’ll find no booze or butts on me. I can get that stuff anywhere.

clock (1)With the exception of one Sorrento lemon tucked into my bag before heading home from a Mediterranean sailing (the lemon was huge, the size of a shoe, and — news flash — tasted exactly like a lemon, so don’t believe that “as-sweet-as-a-fruit” bull you hear about Sorrento lemons), I bring my cruise memories home in the form of unique and lasting mementos that will enrich my life year-round, transport me back to the ports and people who made my journeys so magical, and make my crib look pretty spiffy, too.

panel (1)The first thing I see when I enter my apartment, in fact, is a wrought-iron sculpture from which scores of ornaments hang, each one picked up at a different cruise port — my favorite is from Reykjavik, an itsy bitsy Icelandic sweater that would look fabulous on a Ken doll. In the dining room, a gorgeous 18K gold-rimmed mosaic wall clock from Barcelona tells me the time, and the table is covered with an embroidered spread from Aix-en-Provence. On a wall in the hallway is that carved wooden panel from Honduras and hanging in the bedroom are curtains purchased at a teeny shop in the Orkney Islands.

My next cruise comes this fall and as I sit back in my living room and admire some of the lovely items I’ve picked up during my travels, I can’t help but look forward to that sailing. I’m hoping for fascinating sun-drenched ports, cultural enlightenment, interesting new people, fine dining, and, if I’m really lucky, a new table lamp.


— 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.