Cruising with the Flu (Hot, Hot, Hot) by
(194 Stories)

Prompted By Honeymoon

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House poor, depleted financially by our wedding, and needing income from our consulting practices, Marty and I decided to make a quick overnight to the Mendocino area and postpone our “real” honeymoon. We were adults (I was 34 and he was 37) and not invested in having a big trip right away.

If I still was feverish, I couldn't tell once we went outside in the steamy Caribbean.

Two years later, we finally were able to arrange a Caribbean cruise for mid-October. At this time, in 1989, cruises were relatively formal compared with today, and I even borrowed a cranberry moire taffeta gown from a friend to wear for an evening gala (although getting the full skirt in the suitcase proved interesting).

Four days before we were set to leave, I woke up completely congested, feverish, with aching ears. There was a nasty virus going around, and I’d gotten it. The doctor said I might not be able to fly because my eardrums could rupture, but he put me on lots of pseudoephedrine and agreed to see me the day before we needed to fly for a final verdict. With 24 hours to spare, I was cleared to fly.

We had a one-stop flight between San Francisco and Miami, which meant two take-offs and landings. At each altitude change, I remember chewing on a wad of gum, squeezing Marty’s hand, and doing my best not to scream as tears rolled down my face. The pain in my ears was some of the worst I’ve ever experienced.

Fortunately, once we were on the ship, I could loll and relax, and I gradually felt better. If I still was feverish, I couldn’t tell once we went outside in the steamy Caribbean. Each evening on the top deck of the ship, there were dance parties, capped by the song “Hot, Hot, Hot,” fittingly enough. By the end of the week I even floated in the bathtub-temperature waters of Labadee, Haiti (the photo at the top of the story is beautiful, but it’s even more stunning live) and enjoyed the beach in this tropical paradise.

While it wasn’t a storybook honeymoon, Marty and I did have a good time, and I cheated the flu by 24 hours.

Profile photo of Marian Marian
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.


  1. Suzy says:

    Great story, Marian! Yes, our similarities continue – both of us waiting until our thirties, both planning a big trip for a “real” honeymoon later – although you didn’t mention here that your wedding was at 11:30 on Sunday like mine. Glad you were cleared to fly and managed to recover enough to have a good time on your cruise. Your description of flying with an ear infection is so vivid it made me wince!

    • Marian says:

      Thanks, Suzy, hope I never have to experience flying with an ear infection again. After I wrote the story, I wondered if these days the cruise ship would allow me to board because I’d had fever and illness so close to the departure date. They didn’t ask back then.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Marian, how awful to have to fly in such a sick condition. But I’m glad you were able to have your “real honeymoon” cruise. I do remember the formality of cruises back in the day and laughed over the image of you stuffing that gown into your suitcase. And I also remember dancing to “Hot, Hot Hot” on vacations around that time. Having taken a slightly postponed trip to Israel with one of our kids still recovering from chicken pox, I don’t think anyone cared about traveling sick back then. I’ve always felt guilty about that flight, but when we got there, every kid on my aunt and uncle’s kibbutz was running around with chicken pox.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Oh Marian, your pain is palpable. I seem to get a cold towards the end our trips to the west coast, so understand the pain of those pressurized moments on your eardrums, but nothing like you described. Just a few days ago, we books a cruise for next year to Spain, Portugal, France, ending in London, where our son is. My husband asked if I thought we should get trip insurance (which we’ve never done before). I thought we should. You never know and this is trip will last more than two weeks.

    I do love your little aside about trying to pack the taffeta ball gown. One needs a steamer trunk for such an outfit, I think. Yes, quite challenging. Thanks for sharing your ordeal.

    • Marian says:

      Thanks Betsy. Trip insurance has saved my bacon and as we get (ahem) older, it’s really necessary. Despite the inconvenience of packing those formal clothes, I do miss some of the elegance of the old way of cruising.

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