George and Sandy's 2004 Mexican Cruise

Wednesday, October 20, 2004, about 1010 PDT

Sandy and I are off to go on a 10 day cruise on the MS Ryndam (Holland America Lines) to the Mexican Riviera. The boat leaves out of San Diego at 1700 today so that the first order of business is getting there. We have elected to take Amtrak to San Diego because the train tickets are less than parking would be, not to mention gas. Also, Sandy thought that the train ride would add to the adventure.

To start this whole thing off, we got on the Green Line at the Marine station, transferred to the Blue line, transferred to the Red Line and then got off at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. From there, we got on Amtrak 768 to San Diego, which is were we are right now. It's been raining all night and the train is late leaving because the fire department was fishing somebody out of the LA river and the line south was closed for awhile.

It's now 1020 and the train just started backing out of the station. We'll get to San Diego (barring further delays) sometime after 1300.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004, about 1550 PDT

We've made it to the ship, and all our luggage arrived too. When the train arrived at the San Diego station at 1300, it was raining. The cruise ship port is only 2 blocks from the train station, but we knew we would get soaked if we walked. The only taxi that would stop wanted $10 for a 1/4 mile ride, I told him to shove it and we walked. We were pretty wet by the time that we got to the ship.

Check in at the cruise terminal was a little confused. Our paperwork was checked at least 6 times before we were allowed to board the ship.

We got lunch in the buffet (Lido, Deck 11) at about 1400. This is a little late for lunch because we have the early sitting at dinner at 1745. We took a little stroll around the ship. I used Sandy's GSM cell phone to call home, it worked fine. I also found that there is wireless internet in places on the ship, but not in our room. However, one must log in so therefore it implies that there will be a charge. The internet access is managed out of a lounge near the stern of the ship, but it was closed when we went by because there was a live TV feed to New York going on at the time. I'll find out later if I can even afford their rates.

ms ryndamThe MS Ryndam is a sister ship to the MS Statendam on which we cruised in Alaska a few years back. The layout of the ship is almost the same except that the Statendam had much more artwork on display.

The Ryndam has just gone through a retrofit in dry dock. According to the captain (and he should know) we are the first cruise following the retrofit. The Library has been upgraded with an Internet Cafe and the TV's in the rooms have been changed out to flat panel displays with DVD players in each room. This is the first ship in the Holland America fleet to receive this upgrade. The Internet Cafe is closed right now because there is a live TV feed to New York going on. It seems that the New York Times sponsored the Explorer Lounge and the dedication activity is being broadcast live.

Ten years ago when this ship was built, this was a big ship. It is now considered only medium sized because of the much larger ships built more recently. One of them, the Sapphire Princess, is docked next to the Ryndam. This ship has to be 200 feet longer and is at least two decks taller.

Ryndam Specifications

Decks 10
Passenger Elevators 8
Public Rooms 15
Passengers 1,266
Crew 560
Gross Tonnage 54,451
Length 720 ft
Width 101 ft
Draft 24 ft 6 in
Built 1994
Bow Thrust 2 units, 2340 bhp
Props 2 x 16,300 HP, Variable Pitch
Engines Diesel Electric
Max Speed 21 knots
Our itinerary is:
cruise map
Date Port of Call
20 Oct 04 Depart San Diego at 1700
21 Oct 04 At sea
22 Oct 04 At sea
23 Oct 04 Manzanillo
24 Oct 04 Acapulco
25 Oct 04 Zihuatenejo / Ixtapa
26 Oct 04 Puerto Vallarta
27 Oct 04 Mazatlan
28 Oct 04 Cabo San Lucas
29 Oct 04 At sea
30 Oct 04 Arrive San Diego at about 0800

stateroom 134The stateroom is nice. It's an inside room in the center of the ship near the bow. There are only 3 rooms across the ship on this deck (Veranda, Deck 9). Even though there appears to be a window behind the curtain above the bed, there is just a wall behind it. It is illuminated so that it can look like sunlight behind.

stateroom 134Our hallway is on the port side just aft of the forward stairwell. There appears to be only ONE 110 VAC electrical outlet in the whole room. After we asked, the room steward brought by an outlet strip so that at least we can plug in more than one thing at a time. Between my iBook, my camcorder, Sandy's PDA, the cell phone, the iPod, and an AA charger (for the iPod's speakers) we need more than one outlet to allow us to keep all this stuff charged up and ready. Eventually, I did find another 110 VAC outlet in the bathroom, but it was hidden behind a panel on the built in hair dryer.

Sandy has gone to book some shore excursions. I checked off a few but I'll get the final details later as to what reservations were actually made.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004, about 2000 PDT

The one excursion to Colima that Sandy wanted is booked. We are on a waiting list. We got several others.

Internet access is $0.70/min or $50/100 min. Pretty steep but ok if all one is going to do is to download mail, answer it off line and then upload the replies. It's not working now, they say that it might be going by tomorrow noon.

Our TV didn't work when we got here, its a flat screen unit with a DVD player attached. The electricians came by and found that the power cord to the monitor was missing. That has been fixed and we have CNN.

Our first dinner was quite good. I had some salmon tartar with a kind of salsa, a spinach salad with bleu cheese and mahi mahi. Sandy had fruit, a bowl of steak soup and a steak. We passed on dessert. Then we went back to the room and Sandy crashed.

The ship actually departed during dinner, about 2 hours late. Due to the weather (which was pretty bad when we got to San Diego) the airport was closed for awhile and several flights were late. The ship held in port to allow those passengers to board.

Thursday, October 21, 2004, about 1300 MDT

We've crossed into a new time zone so that we set our clocks forward by an hour. Since we have an inside cabin, there is no window, therefore no external light. We went to bed at about 2200 last night and slept 12 full hours. By the time that we awoke and adjusted our watches, we had missed breakfast and were just in time for lunch.

There was no special sound to wake us either. The room has noise, but it is constant. There is the sound of the air conditioning blower and a constant low rumble from the ships engines, but NO OTHER SOUND. There are ships announcements that are loud in the hallway but virtually inaudible in the room. Therefore there was no sound of activity to wake us either. Note to self... set an alarm when you have to be somewhere at some particular time.

The shower in our state room leaves a little to be desired, such as temperature control. It seems to oscillate between very hot and very cold on a 10 second period. It would appear that it uses one of the European local water heaters and the control loop is unstable. I had to time the changes and dive in for a 3 second rinse during each up or down swing and then step out at the peaks. I've called it in but I don't know if it is fixable.

Lunch is served either in the buffet line on the Lido deck or in the main dining room on decks 7 and 8. We ate at the Lido. The menu in the main dining room was much "classier." I'll try to eat there as much as as possible, although the buffet is still better than most of the food that I normally eat.

The buffet line has a pretty standard format. First there is a bread selection, then fruit and cheese, then a Asian stir fry, then a pasta section. The Entree section has the day's carved meat (today was lamb), fish, cooked vegetables and other various entree selections. Then there is a sandwich bar and finally a salad bar (with an excellent Greek salad). Finally there is a VERY long dessert bar.

There is another dining room, the Pinnacle Grill. The menu there is even higher class than the main dining room, but a cover charge ($20) applies there and the dress code is formal at all times. It is also available by reservation only.

Note that all of the food in all of the dining rooms is all-you-can-eat all of the time. If one wants more of any particular kind of food, one just has to ask. There are times when there are no dining rooms open, however room service is free 24 hours a day, but a tip to the room service steward is probably expected.

Breakfast lunch and dinner are all served in both the Lido buffet and the main dining room. The dining room hours are more restrictive than the Lido. From about 1100 to 1800 every day, there is also a grill open on the Lido deck near the pool which serves hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and sometimes tacos.

There is also a midnight snack served in the Lido dining room. One or the other of us has stayed up late and visited there, but the food quality and selection is not as good as at other times. The food type is themed to a different kind of food each day, but it is generally not worth waiting up for.

For several hours each day, an ice cream bar is also open. There are usually 3 to 5 types of ice cream, sherbert or yoghurt to pick from. There is also a selection of traditional toppings as well.

While writing this, I found that I had two bars of wireless signal strength in my state room so I wandered back to the Internet Cafe / Library to see if it was up. It still isn't, but Sandy was there working through the reference library to determine some correct historical information for her book. I'm going to start on a video ship tour.

Thursday, October 21, 2004, about 1340 MDT

I've just finished a video tour of the ship. Overall, the Ryndam is not nearly as ornate as the Statendam, but it is a good ship none the less.

There are only 15 children on the boat, even though the ship is completely booked. Also, I believe that Sandy and I (we're in our low fifties) are in the youngest 10 percentile or less of the people on this ship. This cruise has definitely attracted an older crowd.

The air temperature is about 70 degrees F outside, the sky is partly cloudy and the sea is fairly smooth. I met Sandy on my travels, she tried to go back to the room but it was being cleaned. She is not here now so that she has probably found another comfortable hidy hole somewhere.

Thursday, October 21, 2004, about 1530 MDT

I just spent some quality time in the hot tub, and then more in a deck chair by the pool. Sandy found me and we relaxed there until she nodded off so I woke her and took her back to the room where she completely crashed. I discovered the secret of the shower as I was rinsing off the chlorine from the hot tub. One must set the shower to a very low flow rate and then it maintains a consistent temperature.

george in the oasisThe ship's map shows a small area called the Oasis that would be deck 13 but it is labeled deck 14. I guess that there is no deck 13. This is a small area just aft of the funnels that is marked as an "adult free zone." It is just upstairs of the kids activity room. The area is all decked out with fake rock, fake bamboo and bright colors. There is a 3" deep wading pool with a waterfall as well. Even though it was marked for kids, there were none there. I took Sandy back there and she took my picture. There are the only hammocks on the ship. If this area really isn't used by the kids, then it will be used by your's truly.

The internet is still not up. They are having problems with the satellite link so that it may not be up at all for the whole cruise.

Thursday, October 21, 2004, about 1730 MDT

Sandy and I spent part of the afternoon in the "Crow's Nest." This is a lounge on Deck 12 right above the bridge (the top row of black windows in the first photo on this page). From the reclining chairs there, one can see a 180 degree view. We just sat and watched the clouds and felt the gentle roll of the ship. It is sure nice to be able to relax.

Tonight's dinner is "formal." They say "coat and tie" and that all it's going to be for me. There are people wearing tuxedo's, but I won't get close. A normal work shirt, a tie, normal black slacks, my black walking shoes and my black nylon jacket are a "formal" as I am going to get. I don't even own a suit that fits. I'm sure that we'll have to evade the ship's photographers on the way into dinner. They take pictures of everybody and hope that you will buy them at about $7 a picture.

Thursday, October 21, 2004, about 1930 MDT

Dinner this evening went pretty much like last night. I had fruit, gazpacho and crab's legs. Sandy had the same except she had turkey instead of crab. It wasn't enough however, and I had a second dinner of fruit and salmon in the Lido Restaurant. We're going to a Las Vegas style show at 2030 hours and the it'll probably be bedtime. Tomorrow is another day at sea.

I took some video of the ship today, but no stills. Tomorrow, I am going to take some selected stills specifically for this web page. I am also planning to more thoroughly test those hammocks.

Friday, October 22, 2004, about 1410 CDT

We passed into yet another new time zone overnight so we are Central Time, 2 hours ahead of Los Angeles. We didn't sleep as late this morning and got up in time for breakfast. The breakfast buffet is the normal stuff, breads and pastry, fruit, cereal, eggs, breakfast meats and omelets. I can't eat that way every day. They did deliver some fruit to our room, I think that it will get eaten tomorrow morning.

I took my still photo tour this morning and then after looking at the results, I did it again. I was using the wide angle lens on the camcorder and it just doesn't work very well for stills. This camera uses only the center of the CCD imager for video with the balance used for antishake compensation. The still photos use the entire area of the imager and my wide angle lens is clearly not optimized for the edges. They look pretty bad so I retook all of the pictures without the wide angle lens.

We had lunch in the main dining room, Sandy had a pastrami sandwich and I had fish and chips. The plan for this afternoon is naps and reading out on deck. Its a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

A Tour of the Ryndam

over the bowI started my tour above the Crow's nest over the bow. It was REALLY windy up here. The ship is making only 20 knots, but the wind must be at least twice that because the air is forced up the sloped front of the ship so that there is a very strong updraft.

Up to this point in the cruise, there has been very little rolling or rocking. This is pretty obvious from looking at the swell, or lack thereof, in the photo. There is just enough to remind us that we are on a ship, but not enough to be any kind of a bother. I suppose that this could change at any time.

the crow's netThe forward lounge is called the Crow's Nest. On a sailing ship, a crow's nest is a lookout station high up on the mast. The view from here is high up and excellent. From the lounge chairs (somewhat more comfortable than a traditional crow's nest) one can look out over the bow of the ship and take in all that lays forward.

amidshipsAft of the Crow's Nest is the mid ship area. This is a retractable cover over the main pool on the deck below. To the rear on either side of the ship's funnels are a netted in tennis court on the port side and a basketball court on the starboard side.

stern decksAft of the funnels there are two decks, 11 and 10 with lounge chairs and another pool. These are pretty well protected from the wind. Right above this photo position is the Oasis on deck 14.

the main poolThe main pool is on deck 11 just underneath the retractable roof. There are also two hot tubs behind the dolphin statue.

atriumIn the center of the ship on decks 6, 7 and 8 is the atrium. This is the location of the front desk, the shore excursion desk and several shops. There is a casino on deck 8 but I have not desire to even go in there because there is way too much smoke. Smoking is allowed in the Casino, along the port side of the main pool and on the outside decks. I avoid these areas if anybody is smoking. Cigars are allowed only on the Lower Promenade Deck, deck 6.

promenade deckThis is a section of the Promenade deck. It goes all the way around the ship and there are lots of people using it as a walking track. There is pretty good ventilation, but if a cigar smoker is anywhere nearby, it is obvious. He can clear out a whole section of the deck.

our dinner tableThe main dining room is on decks 7 and 8. Our table is number 57 on deck 8. In this case, it was set for lunch.

internet and libraryThis is the Library and Internet room. It is called the Explorer Cafe and they have a coffee shop here as well, however, the stuff isn't free and I wouldn't touch it anyway. There a dozen computers set up for accessing the internet and they will also rent laptops. However, none of that is working yet.

music playersThey also have several of these music terminals in the Library for free use. However, the playlists, while extensive, do not meet my musical tastes.

video gamesOn deck 12 aft, there is a kids area. One of the rooms had traditional arcade style video games.

playstationsThe room next door has several playstations with flat screen displays. There is also a disco room and a smaller children's activity room. Directly upstairs is the Oasis.

lower decks

Except for the Promenade itself, there is nothing but staterooms on decks 4, 5 and 6. The staterooms on decks 4 and 5 are all small so that 4 fit across the ship. On deck 6, the promenade takes up width so that the staterooms are three across.

Deck 8 is above the lifeboats and is a little wider, most of the public areas are on deck 8. These include the upper level of the main dining room, the Explorer Lounge, the casino, several shops, bars and lounges and the upper level of the Vermeer lounge (the live show theater).

The width of deck 7 is constrained by the lifeboats hung above the Promenade deck. These are mostly public rooms and other areas restricted from passenger access. I believe that the main galley is the large white space on deck 7 aft, just ahead of the main dining room.

There are bars and lounges spread out all over the ship. Booze is not included in the cruise fare and the drinks are roughly $5 to $7 each. Sodas are $1.75 each. Ice water is gratis. Since Sandy is a Diet Coke addict, she bought a soda ticket for $40 at the beginning of the cruise that entitles her to unlimited glasses of soda during the cruise. I didn't purchase the ticket because I knew that I wasn't going to be drinking anything that was available in the bars except water which, besides juice with breakfast, was all I drank.

upper decks

Our stateroom is on the Veranda Deck, deck 9. We are in cabin 134, just aft of the forward stairs and elevators. Our room is almost directly above the statue in the Atrium. There are only three staterooms across this deck because the outer ones have veranda's and are therefore larger. Our room is smaller, similar to the ones on decks 4, 5 and 6. Deck 10 is where the double width suites are. This is the high roller's district.

Deck 11 is almost all public space. This deck has the Lido Restaurant (the buffet), the main pool and the spa and gym. Deck 12 is almost entirely outside except for the Crow's nest at the forward part and the game and kids areas rear of the funnels. Deck 14 has two small sections. The Oasis is just aft of the funnels and is decked out for kids and teenagers. It is pretty nice though. Also there is a section above the Crow's nest that can be accessed for observation.

The ship runs a cashless system. The room key is a credit card as well onto which all charges are placed. Even without a bar tab, the shore excursions can run up quite a tab.

Shore excursions run $50 to $100 a head depending on the type and length of the tour. These prices are higher that one can find a la carte, but it is more convenient to book tours this way IF the available tours are satisfactory.

Friday, October 22, 2004, about 1915 CDT

We're back from dinner. I had some kind of quesadilla appetizer, a salad and a seafood and rice dish. Sandy had watermelon balls, potato soup and prime rib. We passed on dessert. The movie tonight is "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks. We are planning on seeing it at 2030.

We spent most of the afternoon just being lazy. I am reading a book entitled "The Twelve Year Reich" about the social history of Germany during the 3rd Reich. It's hard reading and I'm making slow progress.

The internet came up this afternoon, but unfortunately, it is not effective. It is VERY slow and expensive. I was able to get my mail, which was all spam, but the Mail tool would not upload a prepared message to my kids. I had to copy the text into a web mail tool and send it from there. All of this should have cost me $5.60. It looks like it'll either be internet cafes shoreside or none at all. The tour book in the Library says that one in Manzanillo charges $2/hr which is just a little better than the $42/hour charged on the ship.

Tomorrow is a shore excursion out of Manzanillo to a place called Colima where there are a couple of volcanos and some ancient ruins. If there is any time left when we get back, it'll be shopping and/or an internet cafe.

Saturday, October 23, 2004, about 1705 CDT

colimaSandy and I just got back from a shore excursion (bus tour) to Colima which is the capital city of the state of Colima.

When we got to the central plaza, a parade was being set up to celebrate the All Saints Day. This parade was noisy and clearly well received by the locals. There were bands, floats, children's dances and formation marching. We also toured the cathedral and the main government building which was right next to the cathedral.

governors office signThe governor's office was open to the public with no security at all. It was, however, Saturday and nobody was there. I guess government's don't feel like they are targets here.

artifactThe museum (which was in the approximate location of where the first picture in this section was taken) had many artifacts from a culture 4000 years old. They left only pottery, such as this stylized dog, and some simple tools, but no other records.

colima ruinsWe also toured some ruins of a civilization that was much more recent, about 1100 years old. They also left no records either, but they did leave these monuments. This pyramid was identified as a sacrificial site, a sacrificed skeleton was found on top covered in ash. It is assumed that the nearby active volcanos had erupted and the sacrifice didn't calm it down.

Then we went to the smaller nearby town of Colama to have lunch. This was kind of a mexican dim sum. It was excellent. The bus got us back to the ship at about 1530 and I went for a swim before dinner.

Manzanillo itself is the largest port of entry in western Mexico for commercial traffic, but it is not know as a resort. There are 4 resort hotels on the beach in the northern bay with 3400 rooms. This compares to more 50,000 rooms in Acapulco. The main exports from Manzanillo are tropical fruits, coconuts, mangos, papaya, limes, pineapple and sugar from sugar cane. There is also massive amounts of cement exported. There is a large amount of container traffic and grain imported.

This year, 65 cruise ships will visit Manzanillo, up from 20 or so in previous years. The cruise port, however, is in the commercial port and there is NO shopping within walking distance of the port. If you want to shop, you have to take a bus or a cab.

Sunday, October 24, 2004, about 2100 CDT

We are in Acapulco today. This is the oldest major resort on the western coast and one of the most popular. We took a city, shopping and cliff divers bus tour for about 3 hours. This tour was kind of a bust. They took us from one end of town to the other and the only "shopping" stop was to a rip off jewelry store only a couple of blocks from the ship. I did see the cliff divers and got some video. Sandy spent the few minutes that were at the cliffs in a gift store instead.

During the trip we managed to use Sandy's GSM cell phone to call all of the kids. We also found a reasonable internet service at the cruise terminal for $2/15 min. I managed to check my earthlink mail, but webmail wasn't working. I could not log in.

police officer with M-16When we realized what the "shopping" stop was, we wandered off to a nearby street where I came upon this police officer carrying an assault rifle. They guys at least provide the appearance of meaning business. We did find a good shopping spot but we didn't get back there.

fort san diegoI wanted to see the fort that was on the hill immediately above the ship. This is Fuerte de San Diego, a Spanish fortification intended to protect the town from anybody that might sail in with malice aforethought. The fort has been reconstructed into a museum. The reconstructors did a very good job. We spent about 2 hours there and could have spent longer but we got tired and hungry, besides, they were closing in a few minutes.

fort san diego modelThis is a model of the fort as it might have looked 230 years ago when this version was built. There was an older fort there that got knocked down by an earthquake. The five sided structure allowed guns to point in any direction and each wall was protected by raking fire from another gun so that a land assault on the fort would have been difficult.

cannonSome cannons are still mounted there. This is a view from near the entrance. There were lots of exhibits inside and we have tons of photos, way too many for this web page. Entrance was free, but it cost $3 US for permission to use a camera.

The ship doesn't leave Acapulco until near midnight as our next stop isn't far away. I'm going to stay up until sailing time because there is a mexican feast scheduled at 2330.

Acapulco is the southernmost extent of the cruise, the next stop is Zihuatenejo and Ixtapa which are right next to each other. I am going on a snorkeling trip, Sandy has reserved the day for shopping.

Monday, October 25, 2004, about 1345 CDT

The Mexican feast last night wasn't so good. The Dutch don't "get it" when it comes to spicy food.

Today I have no photos because I did not take my camera on the snorkel trip. We arrived in Zihuatenejo harbor about 8 AM and anchored. There is no pier capable of handing this ship here so we used the ship's tenders to get ashore. The swell in the harbor made getting on the tenders an interesting exercise in timing. The tender took me to shore (Sandy didn't go on this trip).

Actually, I didn't get to shore. I just walked across the pier to a water taxi that took me out to the Tvlava, a 95 ft schooner. We took this 100 ton boat under diesel power around the point to the south to a small bay where the boat anchored. There were about 30 swimmers on the boat and we all jumped in and snorkeled for about an hour.

The water wasn't perfectly clear, maybe 30' maximum visibility and 10' good visibility but it was clear enough due to the shallow live reef where we were swimming. It was also quite warm, 84 F. The sky was overcast so that the light was less than perfect. There were lots of small fish, none bigger than about 8" or so. We did find a puffer fish which had puffed himself up and one of the crew members handed him around.

After the swim, we sailed under wind and diesel power back to the port, then back on the water taxi and then back to the Ryndam in a ship's tender. There was a long line there to get back. Sandy was there waiting in the hot sun. The tenders were running slow because the swell had become worse and it was taking a long time to offload the passengers to the ship. When we got to the ship and the tender tied up, it was still moving up and down 3 or 4 feet and in and out by about 1 foot. This made disembarking from the tender a matter of fairly precise timing. There are quite a few very old folks on this cruise and many of them don't get around real well. These folks were REALLY concerned about getting back onto the ship in one piece.

Sandy and I had lunch in the main dining room and then I took some more video from two rear decks I had not been on before, then I came in to write this entry in our trip diary.

Tomorrow we dock at Puerto Vallarta about 0900 or so. Sandy and I then go on a "Tropical Jungle Paradise" tour. We'll see what that is.

Monday, October 25, 2004, about 1915 CDT

The Dutch Chocolate Treat was this afternoon and Sandy and I went. I had minimal stuff (mostly lemon squares and strawberries) but there was LOTS of chocolate to choose from. These things seem to be traditional for cruises, there's been one on every cruise that we've been on (4 cruises on 3 different cruise lines).

Dinner in the main dining room was formal dress again this evening, we passed (neither of us being very formally inclined) and we ate again at the Lido. It was steak and lasagna for Sandy and salmon and lasagna for me. Getting a good meal here does not require formality.

Before dinner, I discovered another way to get out on the forward decks. From the gym on deck 11, one can walk out on another observation level. However, it was windy and just before I grabbed my cap, the wind grabbed it. I didn't see where it went so I assume that it is now visiting Davy Jones' locker. I'll look for another one tomorrow in Puerto Vallarta. The ones in the boutique on board were $20 and not that nice. I have my leather Australian hat to wear tomorrow.

From the observation area on deck 11 forward, I just found a "relaxation" room on the starboard side of the ship. This is a quiet room with some lounge chairs. Since most of the other places on the ship tend to be noisy with lots of traffic (including the Library because the coffee bar makes quite a bit of noise), this might be a good place to hide to read in quiet.

The ship is rolling and rocking more than any other time in the cruise. They even closed the area around the main pool because it sloshed so badly that the whole deck is wet and slippery.

Sandy has gone of to see tonight's movie, "The Manchurian Candidate". I don't get into techno/political thrillers so I passed. We saw "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks a couple of nights ago, it was good. We walked out on "Hidalgo" last night and passed entirely on "Spiderman II" a couple of nights ago. There is a live show every night. We went to the first one, a Las Vegas styled dance review, but it wasn't that great. We haven't been back to the live shows.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004, about 2050 CDT

The Ryndam has just set sail from Puerto Vallarta headed to Mazatlan, we'll get there about 0800. Today, Sandy and I went on the Jungle Tour. This was a bus ride through town to the south and up a dirt road for a mile or so to a restaurant set in the jungle. The road was partly paved in cobblestones and partly just ruts. We weren't on a regular tour bus. This one was somewhat smaller than the typical bus because the regular full sized busses would not make it up that road.

swimming holeThe stream flowing by the restaurant makes a natural sandy bottomed pool ideally suited for swimming. The water was actually pretty cold but it felt good. The deepest part near the cliff on the right is something like 10'.

jungle hikeThere were three activities provided at Chino's Paradise, lunch, a jungle hike and swimming in the stream. I did all three. First was the hike. It wasn't very long, but the trail was steep as it wound up into the jungle. We then forded the stream at a sandy spot and walked down to the restaurant down the other side. Then there was lunch, the best chunk of mahi mahi that I ever had. Then I went in the swimming hole for 10 minutes or so. I would have stayed in longer but it was pretty cold.

governator signThis place is even on the map because the jungle scenes for the Governator's movie "Predator" was filmed about a mile up the road.

On the way back through town, the bus dropped us off at, you guessed it, a jewelry store. We bolted and walked around the area for a half hour taking pictures until the bus came back by again. We then returned to the ship and dropped off our stuff. We then walked back out to, of all places, a Wal-Mart which was right across the main street from the cruise terminal. It was pretty disappointing as their prices were higher than we expected them to be and there was almost no tourist related stuff. On the way back, I stopped by an Internet cafe ($1/15 min) and checked my email and surfed around for half an hour. We then made our way back to the ship. This time, dinner was at the grill on the Lido deck. Sandy had a hot dog and I had a brat, a slice of pizza and a taco. An hour later I went to the regular dinner too in the dining room while Sandy slept.

bullringThis is a photo of a bullring taken from an aft deck on the ship. I didn't know that there were still bullfights run in Mexico.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004, about 1015 MDT

mazatlan guardsWe have no tours today in Mazatlan so we got off the ship with the intention of walking into town. These guys were standing guard near the gangway, assault rifles and all. We got on a little tram to the terminal, they wouldn't allow us to walk. When we got off we were attacked. The attackers were timeshare salesmen, street vendors, cab drivers and anybody else trying to sell us something. It was hard to move 10 yards without being preyed upon by somebody. Even the sternest looks or a definitive NO wouldn't deter they guys, we just had to walk or push our way by. We had not experienced such irritating and aggressive behavior on the trip before. We didn't make it into town because at the very end of the terminal was a flea market with lots of vendor stalls with everything that one could expect to buy in town, but at pretty good negotiable prices. We cruised the stalls and took notes. We then elected to spend the day relaxing on the Ryndam and then come back later to make purchases.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004, about 1330 MDT

It's really hot at midday, I was reading up on Lido deck until I literally couldn't keep my eyes open so I went back to the cabin and literally passed out for an hour or so. I don't know where Sandy is.

lido lunch menuWe had lunch at the Lido. They made a serious mistake and put out all-you-can-eat crabs legs. They paid dearly for their poor judgement. All that lunch probably greatly contributed to my sudden desire for a siesta.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004, about 1540 MDT

Sandy and I went shopping back at the bazaar and she bought the place out. Her Christmas shopping for her family is done. I bought a cap to replace the one that I lost overboard. It cost all of $5.

iguanaThere was a medium sized iguana hiding under a sculpture at the bazaar. Somebody there was feeding it. He was chomping with some urgency until I tried to take his picture, then he stopped.

Thursday, October 28, 2004, about 1545 MDT

The last stop on our cruise was Cabo San Lucas. This is a the end of the Baja California peninsula. It'll be about 42 hours of sailing to get back to San Diego from here. The stop in Cabo was short, the ship got in at about 0800 and left at 1400.

cabo pointOur shore excursion for Cabo San Lucas was a Kayak and Snorkel trip out to the last beach on the point of Cabo San Lucas. The actual beach is at the right of this photo. We kayaked from a beach next to the marina about a mile to get there. We actually passed the beach on the way out and stopped by the sea lion colony at the right side of the big rock on the left. We then circumnavigated the rock (therefore qualifying for a kayak trip in the Pacific Ocean) and then came back to the beach.

lover's beachThe beach is not very crowded in this photo, but when were there an hour before, it was packed with kayaks and people. There were only 10 people from the Ryndam, I suppose that the rest came from the Diamond Princess which was also in port.

The snorkel area is on the left side of the beach along the rocks. The water was clear and fairly cold. There wasn't a large variety of fish, but there sure was lots of them, easily into the millions. The schools were divided by size, there were smelts less than a half an inch long, small fish running about an inch and larger ones up to 2 inches. These are small fish, but there were so many that at points, I couldn't see through the mass of fish. There were also a few dozens of other typically colorful tropical fish.

We were warned NOT to try to swim on the Pacific side and I could see why. There was heavy surf and an obvious rip current that was moving right along. The guide said that if we tried to swim there, he would never see us again.

kayakThis is the vehicle that got us there and back. The kayak was very stable but it took a lot of effort to paddle it for such a long distance considering how good of shape that I am in.

Even though the sun has been intense at every stop, I got my first sunburn today, on my legs and feet while I was paddling the kayak. Also, we haven't had any significant rain or foul weather on this trip either (unless you consider both temperature and humidity in the 90's at times as foul). It did rain one night for a half hour or so but I didn't know it when it happened. Sandy was on the Lido deck at the time and she said that it rained pretty hard.

The sea has been pretty calm as well. We've had some periods of swell, once enough make the water in the mail pool slosh out and the crew closed the outdoor portion of the Lido deck until they could swab it down. However, we didn't get enough roll even then to seriously inhibit walking.

Thursday, October 28, 2004, about 2130 MDT

Since dinner in the dining room was formal again, we elected to have dinner in the Lido again. Besides, since we had lunch at 1400, going to dinner at 1800 was a little too soon. The movie tonight was "Shrek 2". I hadn't seen it before and it was entertaining.

We have one more day and two nights to go before we return to San Diego.

Friday, October 29, 2004, about 0930 MDT

About bedtime last night, the ship picked up a considerable pitch. The stabilizers took care of the roll, but the up and down movement of moving over the swell was quite noticeable. It became stronger over the night by this morning, it is making walking a little awkward. As I walk up and down the length of the ship, I find that I am walking uphill, then downhill on about a 10 second period.

We started getting the inevitable disembarkation paperwork, customs forms, luggage tags, disembarkation passes and such. I am wading through this paperwork to get it right.

Today, we went back on Pacific Daylight Time so we gained another hour. In two days, we'll also go off daylight time to standard time so we'll gain yet another hour.

Saturday, October 30, 2004, about 0820 PDT

We're back in San Diego, it is clear but cool. The ship was supposed to clear customs at 0800 but they are still looking for some people so everybody waits. The Sapphire Princess came in after us, it must have been on a 10 day cruise as well.

We have had our breakfast and have gone back to the stateroom to watch CNN and wait. Our train leaves at 1030 and there are more at roughly two hour intervals so we'll get home. The boys will be at a band competition all day so that we'll get home before they do.

Saturday, October 30, 2004, about 0935 PDT

sandy on the trainWe were the second group off the boat at a little after 0900. We passed immigration and customs without hassle and found our bags. It was then a short walk to the train station where a train was waiting. It was an earlier one than we were ticketed for but on Amtrak, it doesn't matter. We got on the train, stowed our bags and found a seat. Then the train left so we are on our way home with little waiting.

Saturday, October 30, 2004, about 1645 PDT

We managed to get through the various train trips and home by 1400, overall a five hour trip from the time that they called our number on the ship. We are home in one piece, without injuries or illness. This has to be a first for one of my vacations. All I lost on the trip was a worn out cap but I probably gained a little weight.

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© 2004 George Schreyer
Created October 20, 2004
Last Updated October 31, 2004