Carcinoid A rare form of "slow-growing" neuroendocrine cancer

Susan Anderson - An advocate for Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumor Awareness


Mexican Riviera Cruise
January 11 – 18, 2004
Susan L. Anderson

Sunday, January 11, 2004 

Charlie Jo Mikolich, Barbara Rubin, Leslie Tainsky and Susan Anderson met at Sky Harbor Airport.  We flew to Los Angeles (LAX), left on Southwest Flight #566 at 10:30 a.m. MST, arrived at LAX 11:05 a.m. PST. Were met at baggage by representative of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. 

Later we rode a bus to the dock in San Pedro, CA and boarded Vision Of The Seas.   When we boarded the ship each persons photograph was taken to compare with their “sea pass” card that we put into a reader each time we left the ship and each time we returned.  Also upon entering the ship each time we walked through a metal detector and laid our jackets, purses, packages, etc. on an ex-ray scanner like at the airports. 

Leslie and I shared stateroom 2114, an outside cabin, with two windows, while Charlie Jo and Barbara shared stateroom 2105 an inside cabin with no windows.

 Vision Of The Seas belongs to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.  The ship, considered old, was built in 1998, it is 915 feet long, 105 ½ feet wide, draft of 25 feet, gross tonnage is 75,000 tons, passenger capacity is 2,000, crew capacity is 765, and cruising speed is 22 knots.

After eating lunch at the buffet in the Windjammer Café on the 9th deck we explored the ship until time for 6 p.m. dinner in the Aquarius Dining Room, table 11.

After dinner we attended a Welcome Aboard Show with Los Diablos Gauchos and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers.

Some of the round-the-clock activities included : bridge, trivia quizzes, bingo, dancing, lounges, entertainment, rock wall climbing, spa, handicrafts, exercise, several swimming pools, casino, yoga, ping pong, shuffleboard, name that tune, duty free shopping, art auctions, various contests, and on and on, something for everyone at almost all times.  The TV’s in each stateroom provided information on shore excursions, shopping, rerunning of the shows form Masquerade Theater, information,  and some cable channels such as CNN International (so I was happy), Travel, sports, cartoon, movies and etc.

Monday, January 12, 2004      At Sea

Bright blue sky and sunny, lovely day!

Breakfast and lunch were open seating in the Aquarium Dining Room, which Leslie and I preferred as they were tables for 10 people.  Enjoyed meeting people from England, Canada and all over the USA.  There was also a breakfast buffet in the Windjammer Café.

Viewed the jewelry and shops then attended the Port and Shopping Talk in the Masquerade Theater.

Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception, dress was formal, 5 to 6 p.m. held in the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge & Showboat Lounge.  Captain George Paraskevopoulos from Greece.  Of the officers and staff the ONLY American was Cruise Director Parker Cristan.  The officers, staff and crew hail from 30 different countries and speak 50 different languages.

After dinner and photographs we went our separate ways until time for the evening show.  The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers in Boogie Wonderland at 9 p.m. in Masquerade Theater.  Good production number, very talented performers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004    Cabo San Lucas

For centuries, the Baja peninsula was an isolated area inhabited by Cochimi Indians.  In the 16th century, lured by rumors of Aztec gold, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez sent ships to explore the area.

The first ships landed at what is now La Paz, where many crew members were slain by the Cochimis.  Through the survivors found no gold, they did discover a county in pearls.

Aside from the pearl trade, the Baja peninsula held no wealth for the Spanish.  In the 17th century, the Jesuits arrived to Christianize the Indians.  They founded the first mission at Loreto in 1697.  After the Jesuits were expelled from Mexico in 1767, Franciscan missionaries took over.  Six years later, the Dominicans followed.  In all, 30 missions were founded.  However, by the 1850s, as disease depopulated the peninsula, all were abandoned.

In the 17th century, the Indian population was estimated at more than 50,000.  Presently, there are less than 500 Indians in the Baja, and all that remains of their culture are some cave paintings in the south.

In 1834, James K. Polk sided with Texans who were tired of paying taxes to Mexican generals.  Troops marched on La Paz and San Jose del Cabo.  At the bargaining table, Americans conceded they didn’t need any more desert than they already had.  Baja was thus left to the Mexicans.

Today, Cabo San Lucas is mostly unspoiled and is one of the world’s best fishing areas.  It remains Los Cabos’ primary tourist attraction with beautiful white sand beaches, great shopping and a large American retiree population.  Last year 550,000 visitors arrived by air, car and cruise ship.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, first port of call.  Ship arrived approximately 10 a.m. and we rode tenders in to port.  It was lightly raining off and on.  All four of us had purchased the Coastal Highlights Tour, there were three buses.  Leslie and I were on the first bus while Barbara and Charlie Jo were on the third bus.

The brochure states:  Join your guide for a drive along the rugged coast lined with unusual rock formations and spectacular ocean views.  You’ll observe craftsman at a local glassblowing factory, and then on to a classic resort hotel for photo opportunities.  Your next stop will be at the famous and beautiful ‘Giorgio’s Restaurant’ to explore the ground and enjoy a refreshing beverage.  Your tour continues with a drive to San Jose del Cabo, a small, picturesque town where a short stop will be made at the mission church and the quaint tree-lined streets.

There was light rain and then there would be a cloud-burst and then slack off to light rain again, this continued all day.  But, rain never stops me from seeing what I’ve come to see.

The views from Giorgio’s Restaurant were great, our cruise ship, the whole harbor, rocks, beaches, was able to take some very good pictures.  The glassblowing factory was also good.  Light rain when got off bus, then while inside heavy rains, which again slacked off to light rains.  Visited some jewelry shops in San Jose del Cabo where Leslie and I each made a purchase. 

The visit to the Los Cabos Botanical Garden Cacti Mundo was most enjoyable.  As each person got off the bus we were handed an open umbrella.  Nice “cafeteria” and gift shop with good information.  This is called the most important private collection in Mexico of 15,000 cacti and succulent plants from all over the world.  They were arranged so well we were able to see a vast variety of plants without walking long distances.  I took some very good photographs and you cannot tell there was a light rain during this stop.

More rains, off and on.  But, this is an arid area so the streets were running curb to curb full of water.  Our bus stopped at the Plaza Bonita Mall, where we did NOT step in water but out to the sidewalk.  We visited the small boutiques and then returned to the bus. 

The dock had covered area to wait for the tenders.  The seas were high possibly 8+ feet by then.  Our tender ride back to the ship was great fun, for me, some did not enjoy it and felt ill.  We went into each swell, as we should, and then down like a roller coasted, it was wonderful.  Of course if we had caught a swell side way we could have flipped over, but that didn’t happen and it was fun!  We arrived back at the ship a bit after 5 p.m. and we left port about 6 p.m.  I was slightly damp, but not enough to change clothes before dinner.

The Masquerade Theater presented Singer, Impressionist and Pianist Extraordinaire, The Voice of Happy Days Bobby Arvon; I skipped this show and went to bed early.  Later that evening they also had The Love and Marriage Game Show plus Country and Western Hoe Down.

The seas and winds increased all during the night.  At 9 p.m. the ships TV with news from the bridge said the seas were very rough 12 to 18 feet and the winds 35 knots with gusts to 40 knots.  Since we were on the second deck we slept great and didn’t feel very much sea action, plus the captain slowed down considerably.

 Wednesday, January 14, 2004   scheduled Mazatlan

 After circling outside Mazatlan harbor, the captain and harbor master decided for the safely of the ship, the passengers, AND the Mazatlan harbor and tankers already in port it would be unwise to try and enter the small harbor.  This port of call was cancelled.  Crew members were saying this has not been done in 20 years, but….  So we were disappointed, but made the best of the situation.  The seas and winds remained high all day.

Briefly about Mazatlan, once a quiet fishing village has grown to become a metropolitan area with 500,000 residents.  Literally translated as “land of the deer”, Mazatlan boasts some of the best beaches and shopping that the Mexican Riviera has to offer.  Whether viewed by land or sea, Mazatlan’s length “malecon,” scalloped by sand and palm beaches with green hills and glittering beachfront hotels in the background, is one of Mexico’s most enduring seaside images.  Combining Mexico’s longest uninterrupted beach (16 miles) with a well preserved historical and cultural heritage, this is a favorite destination for both Mexican and international vacationers, many of whom return year after year.

In the evening The Review Showtime was The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancer in Rhythm Nation.  There was also a Rockin’ Through The Ages Party and many other activities all day and night.

I had purchased, funds refunded, an all day trip to Sierra Madre, Concordia and Copala.  If I ever go back I still would like this trip.  The brochure said:  You’ll travel through the busy streets of Mazatlan into the historical mountain range.  Stops will be made at an Adobe Brickyard to view the ancient process of making bricks by hand, a colonial furniture factory and a pottery factory to view local craft workers.  You’ll explore the fascinating villages of both Concordia and Copala, these once thriving colonial towns hosted Spanish missionaries and gold prospectors.  Concordian, founded in 1550, is best known for its baroque architecture, while the little town of Copala offers its own historic and quaint charms.  A Mexican lunch will be served and then your return trip will include a short stop in the Golden Zone for shopping.  An interesting tour that blends history and the natural beauty of the Sierra Madre.

Thursday, January 15, 2004       Puerto Vallarta

The history of Puerto Vallarta is different from that of many Mexican cities which have a past dating back thousands of years to the Olmecs, Toltecs and Maya.  The region, including Puerto Vallarta, was discovered only a few centuries ago, in 1541 by Don Pedro de Alvarado.  The port was practically forgotten for the next 300 years.  The bay was developed as a port to transport silver from the nearby mines by the Rio Cuale.  At that time, the village was known as Puerto de Penas, and there were only about 1, 5000 inhabitants.

In the early 1900’s, it was designated a municipality and received the name “Puerto Vallarta” in honor of Don Ignacio Luis Vallarta, a prominent Mexican statesman.  Puerto Vallarta remained a quiet fishing village for the next 30 years.

In the 1950’s, the possibilities of turning the area into a weekend resort for nearby Guadalajara stirred some interest.  A few writers described the natural beauty and serenity of the town, and the American director John Huston visited the area.

International attention was firm drawn to Puerto Vallarta by the scandal surrounding Huston’s film, Night of the Iguana, which was filmed in nearby Mismaloya.  The star, Richard Burton, was accompanied by Elizabeth Taylor, who was still married to Eddie Fisher.  The reporters who had come to cover the story were enthralled by the unspoiled, quaint area.  When they returned home, the word was out.

Recently, Puerto Vallarta has experienced astronomical growth in the northern hotel zone area along the beach, located to the left of the port as you arrive.  Several five-star hotel and condominium complexes have been completed and more are being constructed.  They offer luxurious amenities such as tennis and squash courts, health clubs and pools.  There’s also an 8-hole golf course and a marina with a capacity of 300 boats.  Today, this part of Puerto Vallarta is truly a world-class resort community with old world charm.

Port of call Puerto Vallarta, Mexico      Ar  7:45 a.m., Leave 11:00 p.m.

The other gals took a different tour, while I chose the Puerto Vallarta City Tour.  We followed the beach and stopped at the Cathedral of Guadalupe, then “Gringo Gulch” in the downtown area to shop and/or take photographs of the many very interesting statues along the beach.  Back on the bus, stopped on a small bridge to view  wild iguanas in the trees.

Drove along viewing condos, resorts and the beautiful Banderas Bay.  Bahia de Banderas translated as the “Bay of Flags”, at 5,900 feet deep and with 100 miles of shoreline, this is the 7th largest bay on earth.  Others say it is the 3rd largest bay.  Some said it is 13 miles across and 47 miles around. The underwater crater of a no longer active volcano is a marine wonderland occupied by giant manta rays, dolphins and humpback whales.

Above Banderas Bay we stopped at several places with roadside stands, and then a lovely restaurant that had terraces down to the bay, probably 5 or 6 levels.  They were selling homemade salsa and guacamole with chips and cans Coke and other drinks.  Another lady and I shared a table and chips and salsa.  We next stopped over looking Banderas Bay where two young men had two large fat iguanas for us tourist to have our pictures taken with.  Of course I held both of them, and had a stranger take two pictures with my digital camera, but very few people cared to do so.  The iguanas surely were soft and cuddly.  Returned to the ship for lunch. 

After lunch I went back to the port and the over 100 shops convenient to the ship.  It rained off and on.  I did not go across the street but there sat a large Wal-Mart and a large Sam’s Club.  America is everywhere.

Dinner with my friends and then some of us attended the Variety Showtime featuring Multi-Instrumentalist Live Wire from England.   Good guitar player and super good violin / fiddler of all kinds of music, plus Irish pub stories.

Before this trip I already though that I do not want to cruise or travel with a group of couples we already know.  If you go without a group, then you eat and chat with others and not just those you already know.  A cruise appears to be ideal for a family reunion, everyone go their separate ways until dinner in the evening and something for everyone.

Of the 2,000 passengers on this cruise approximately 500 were children from babies through teen-agers.  A surprising number of people in their 20’s and early 30’s, plus over 20 honeymoon couples.  Three programs for children divided by age.  There were many mixers and dances for singles.  This was a cruise with a very good mix of ages.

Friday, January 16, 2004          At sea

Bright blue sky, sunny, lovely day.  Full day of activities on the ship, something for everyone. 

This was the second formal night, so more photographs.  The show in Masquerade Theater was Celebrity Showtime starring The Coasters.  What a high energy show they presented.  We were all on our feet clapping and dancing, what fun.  The shows are done first for those at the 8:30 p.m. second dinner seating, and then at 9 p.m. for those of us that had the 6 p.m. first dinner seating.

Saturday, January 17, 2004        At sea

Somewhat cloudy and gray, rain forecast for L.A. and the southwestern part of USA.  We all stayed busy all day with activities and packing.

The Royal Caribbean Cruise line took care of us news and political junkie, and the sports fans too.  Daily we had several compiled news publications.  I would get two of them “From The Pages of The New York Times: Times Digest” and “Britain Today: news via satellite from the world’s foremost newswires”.

After dinner back to Masquerade Theater.  Farewell Spectacular featuring Cruise Director, Parker and the entire family of entertainment.  Starring Comedian Steve Smith and sneak peek at our “Cruise in Review” video.  Another professional production and really funny comedian.

Luggage had to be tagged and in the hallways by 11 p.m. for the crew to pick it up.

Sunday, January 18, 2004       Dock in Los Angeles (San Pedro), CA

After our 6 a.m. breakfast we went to the Showboat Lounge to wait for our group to be called, and our color beige was second to be called.  First white and pink, and second orange and beige.  So off we went, through customs, got our luggage and boarded a bus for L.A. airport (LAX).

We left LAX on Southwest Flt 2916 at 1:30 p.m. PST and arrived in Phoenix a little later than the scheduled 3:50 p.m. MST.  Charlie Jo and I waited at the curb approximately three minutes for the shuttle to the parking area to get my car.  I dropped Charlie Jo at home and I arrived home at 5 p.m.

Copyright 2004 and beyond by Susan L. Anderson 

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 1997-2014 Susan L. Anderson. All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: 07/19/15