Till Death Do We Debark

Monday Mantra

I DO love cruising…I DO love cruising…I DO love cruising…

Till Death Do We Debark

Cruise with me, my love… on the sea, the sea of love….

My husband, Michael, and I have been married 17 years, but it could have been a lot longer if only the gods that controlled our respective destinies had gone to the same travel agent.  We met in 1992 aboard Holland America Line’s Statendam but later, when we compared our cruise histories, we found an uncanny number of instances where one of us had boarded a ship on the same day that the other had disembarked from it.

You might think that even had we sailed together on those earlier cruises, there’s no guarantee that our paths would have crossed. Wrong! While I don’t want to get all “Love Boat” on you, I must point out that most of these sailings were in the late 1980s, a time when anyone sans gray hair and a cane stuck out on board like Miley Cyrus at a debutante ball. Add to that the fact that Michael wasn’t bad looking, quickly befriended everyone, won the electric slide contest, and probably invented the cruise ship cabin door–decorating craze. There’s no way I would have missed him.

With our shared love of cruising, it’s no surprise that a few years after our meeting, we were engaged at sea. Well, actually, it was a surprise to me but everyone else aboard Seawind Crown seemed to expect it. Our flight to Aruba was packed with the ship’s passengers and, while I napped, Michael apparently announced that he’d be proposing. I spent most of the cruise baffled by unfamiliar shipmates approaching me with gleeful smiles, asking if I had any exciting news. “Maybe she said no!” one man told me he screamed at his wife after the 10th time she pointed out that I still wasn’t wearing the ring.

Well of course I accepted, and the nautical theme of our relationship culminated in January 1997 with a wedding ceremony in the library of Celebrity Galaxy. My perfectly styled hair wilted in the Florida humidity as we waited forever for the ship to be cleared, but by the time Michael and I walked down the aisle of the ship’s library, which was resplendent with faux-marble columns, elaborate floral arrangements, and seating for the 17 wedding4guests who’d disembark after the ceremony and sit-down lunch that followed, I simply didn’t care.

As we stood in front of family and friends, I realized that a wedding at sea was the only way for us to begin our life together. And while I might have stumbled midway through our vows when I noticed the room’s “EMERGENCY EXIT” sign gleaming like an omen over Michael’s right shoulder, I chose to ignore it and say “I do.” The future was sure to bring us ups and downs, I figured, but at least we’d never argue about what we’d do for vacation.


— 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.