Sailing On – Beloved cruisemates never really debark

Monday Mantra

Oceans Apart … Oceans Apart … Oceans Apart …

Sailing On

Beloved cruisemates never really debark.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the death of my husband Michael. Cruising brought us together — our wedding was even aboard ship — so I shouldn’t be surprised that each time I sail, I still find him beside me.

In July, only three months after Michael’s death, I boarded Holland America Line’s Veendam to fulfill a wish that his ashes be scattered in the waters around Bermuda. Michael and I met in 1993 aboard Holland America so it was fitting that it would be from the deck of Veendam that Michael would be brought to his final resting place around the island he loved so much, and I would take comfort in knowing I kept my promise to him.

Two months later, I travelled to Thessaloniki, Greece, to join Europa 2, considered by many to be the best ship in the world. Michael would have loved that experience — the splendor of Europa 2’s art, the ship’s gin collection, and the privilege of having the captain take our small group out in a Zodiac to circle the ship — he loved all that VIP stuff! During a tour of Thessaloniki, when I had a borderline meltdown triggered by a massive horde of bees in the area, I could almost hear Michael scold me as he had each time I panicked at the sight of yellow jacket: “Let the bee be and the bee will let thee bee.”

Nowhere did I feel Michael’s presence more than aboard SeaDream II in November. SeaDream Yacht Club was Michael’s favorite cruise line and I almost expected to see him wading into the ocean during the Champagne and Caviar Splash or dressed in his SeaDream pajamas to sleep under the stars. Several crewmembers remembered Michael from previous sailings and before disembarking, I slipped one of Michael’s prayer cards into a seam between my suite’s closet and the wall. I love the idea that a token of him is now hidden aboard SeaDream and sailing the world.

In 2013, Michael joined me on the first Moody Blues Cruise — big, big, BIG mistake. You simply don’t take a disco fan on a cruise filled with non-stop rock music. So when I boarded Norwegian Pearl for Moody Blues Cruise III last month, I couldn’t help but smile each time I was nearly blown out of my seat by a particularly loud guitar riff or a screech of feedback. I even visited the ship’s cigar bar, a refuge that Michael, never a smoker, would escape to on the first MBC, claiming it was the only quiet place on the ship.

Michael may have passed from this world but even after a year I can still see his smile, hear his laugh, and feel his love … especially when I’m aboard a ship.


— Judi Cuervo

Photo: Donaldytong

Sign up for weekly cruise news, fun contests, and exclusive offers delivered right to your inbox!

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.