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!