Travel Vacation

Should I Stay or Should I Go? – When emergencies come up at home, nothing matters like family matters.

Monday Mantra

I’m sailing this week! Maybe. … I’m sailing this week! Maybe. … I’m sailing this week! Maybe. …

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

When emergencies come up at home, nothing matters like family matters.

I’m going on a cruise this Saturday!


That’s right: “Maybe.”

Here we are, all set to sail aboard Norwegian Gem on November 22, Thanksgiving reservations at Cagney’s and everything, when my mother falls out of bed last week, hits her head on the metal bed frame, and sustains a scary head wound. An ambulance, 19 staples, and a hospital stay later, and she’s now residing in a rehab center where she’s amazing the therapists who obviously expected a frail and broken little grandma and found a feisty Italian woman who nails every physical challenge they give her, has better vitals than I do, and, really, has no idea what all the fuss is about.

But she’s 96 years old.

The first time I noticed my mom slowing down was about 10 years ago during a cruise aboard Norwegian Dawn. It certainly wasn’t obvious. She ate well at each meal and could spend five solid hours on her feet playing the slot machines in the casino. And then, one day, the captain invited us to tour the bridge, requesting we meet him at 2 p.m. on Deck 10, forward. “You don’t keep the captain waiting!” I scolded at about 1:55 p.m. when she informed me she first wanted to go to the bathroom and apply lipstick. We left the cabin and I race-walked nearly the full 965-foot length of the vessel before turning around to see my little mother, shuffling slowly down the corridor, way, way, way in the distance.

Mom loves to cruise and insists that my husband and I sail this week. But I wonder … will the Caribbean sun be as relaxing with me worrying about her condition? Will the pretzel rolls taste as good knowing that she’s eating hospital slop like meatloaf and Jell-O each night?


Will the White Party be as festive knowing I chose to sail out of town and leave my brother alone to handle all the decisions and rehab visits?

There are a lot of cruises out there but I only have one mother. I’m not convinced that I’ll be setting sail this Saturday and, although her recuperation is going well, I won’t begin to pack until she’s back on her feet, literally and figuratively.

Doesn’t it figure? Just when a cruise is exactly what I need to ease some of this stress and worry, right now, taking one somehow feels all wrong. What would you do?


— Judi Cuervo


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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.