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Sharing Mana‘o

Cabo San Lucas is not your typical mother-daughter vacation destination, but – lucky for me – I don’t have a typical mother. “Let’s go on a cruise for your birthday,” she said. “I don’t care where we go as long as it’s on a ship!”

The only itinerary that fit both my schedule and Mom’s budget was a five-day Cabo getaway, a round trip out of Los Angeles aboard the Royal Princess. A favorite of spring break party animals, Cabo is located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Our ship anchored off the coast for just a little over 24 hours; the rest of the voyage was spent at sea, which suited Mom just fine.

Most of our 3,740 fellow passengers seemed to be baby boomers, with a fair amount of millenials and fewer folks around Mom’s age, which is 94. At least two weddings were performed at sea, and we saw a good number of folks wearing matching family reunion T-shirts, but we met only one other mother-daughter pair traveling alone. The other mother was in her early 80s, but Mom could run circles around her (and her daughter, for that matter) with her walker.

We took the walker aboard the water shuttle and strolled around the port for a couple of hours in 91-degree heat, 93 percent humidity, and 100 percent hustler action. Hawking souvenirs, tequila and air conditioning, barkers stood outside their storefronts every few feet, promising especial deals. Later that evening, warming up the audience before the comedy magician’s show, the cruise director asked, “How many of you were accosted as soon as you went ashore?”

Everyone in the showroom laughed and raised their hands.

“How many of you were offered marijuana?”

Everyone under 40 shouted in the affirmative.

“How many of you were offered Viagra?”

Nearly all the men laughed knowingly.

“Hookers? Heroin? Pornography?”

I looked at Mom and shrugged. The only thing we were offered was a ride downtown in a pedicab. Not that we would have wanted any of that other stuff, but it was a bit sobering to realize that we looked either too old or too stingy to be targeted by the locals. I’m not complaining, just contemplating.

The Royal Princess is a fairly new ship, built in 2013 and refurbished five years later to become one of the cruise line’s high-tech Medallion Class. Passengers can choose to wear a medallion as a pendant, bracelet or pin instead of carrying a key card. Linked with your smartphone and the ship’s MedallionNet Wi-Fi system, your medallion unlocks your cabin door as you approach and serves as your ID and charge method throughout the ship. Touch your medallion to one of the interactive public screens to find the nearest restroom, your favorite activities, even your travel companions. With the phone app, you can order food and drinks and have them delivered to you in minutes, no matter where you are on board. You can even wager and win real money at Bingo and casino games in the comfort of your own cabin or relaxing on deck.

Of course, it’s more fun to play in the actual casino or Bingo parlor, surrounded by fellow fun-lovers. But even there, the high-tech amenities enhanced our cruise experience. Mom, who isn’t computer-comfortable, quickly adapted to using the Samsung Bingo tablets, on which she could play up to 30 cards simultaneously. The tablet marks off the numbers for you, tells you when other players are one square away from winning, and informs you and the game host when you get a Bingo. The only thing it doesn’t do for you is the happy dance required of jackpot winners.

Neither of us got to do a Bingo happy dance, but I took part in all of the line and Latin dance classes and late night disco parties. We sat in the television studio audience for several game shows and resolved to enter a contest or two on our next cruise. And, of course, we dined to our tummies’ content, several times a day. Fortunately, there were so many opportunities to dance off the calories, I actually lost 2 pounds on this cruise.

Mom’s already thinking about where she wants to go next. Whatever she decides, you can bet it won’t be a typical vacation.

* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is kcmaui913@gmail.com.