When it comes to cruising, I have no trouble shedding my pessimism and donning a pair or rose-colored glasses. Point me in the direction of a ship's gangway and all I can see are fair skies, fair seas and wonderful times ahead. So I was smiling when my husband and I sailed out of San Juan harbor aboard the Gunard Princess on Feb. 14, for seven days of lounging on the beaches of Tortola, Martinique, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

We have sailed on the Princess two years before and were pleased to find that inflation had not affected the fine quality of personnel, service or food.My optimism prevailed until Feb. 21, when we disembarked in San Juan and flew home. Unpacking always helps my pessimism to return, and the intensity mounts as each garment comes out of the suitcase. But this time it really struck hard.

The suitcase was finally empty and my jewelry was nowhere to be found. And then, right before my eyes, I could see it . . . where I had left it . . . in the top right-hand dresser drawer of cabin 2033!

I finally managed the coherent thought to call our travel agent. "This is Ginny. I've done the most stupid thing in my life. I've left my jewelry abroad the Princess."

"I couldn't agree with you more," said the agent. "Call the ship right away."

"What do you mean call the ship?" I yelled, still not thinking clearly.

The agent said gently but firmly, "Just dial zero, ask for the marine operator and she will get the ship. And, be sure to call me back."

It took hours to get the ship because you can't contact a vessel when it's in port. The Princess was in Tortola at the time and the radio room was closed. I could not make contact until she set sail for Martinique. The marine operator said she would call me back and gave me something called a status number in case I wanted to check on the call periodically. During those long hours when I wasn't on the phone, the pessimists of the world would have been proud of me. Over and over I told myself, It's gone, I'll never see that bracelet Bob gave me for our first wedding anniversary . . . never again will I wear the earrings he gave me for the fifth . . . .

Finally, the ring of the phone pierced my thoughts. The marine operator had the Princess on the line. "Hello Mrs. Rodriguez, this is Geoffrey in the purser's office. We have your jewelry." With typical British reserve and sounding like Robert Morley, he added, "Not to worry, madame, just call Ms. Lucas in San Juan in the morning. She'll see to everything."

Ms. Lucas did indeed, and my jewelry has just arrived safely. It's hard for a pessimist to admit it, but things are starting to look up!