Published on November 30, 2021

Cruise to Cozumel highlights: Mexican diet Coke, vanilla

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

Most people go to Cozumel for the excursions. Not me. I have one thing, well actually, two things on my mind: vanilla and Mexican Diet Coke.

My first stop upon arrival is always at Fat Tuesdays for a Diet Coke. I don’t know why Mexican Coke tastes so much better, but it does. Maybe it’s the vanilla. Fat Tuesday’s also offers free Wi-Fi.

Once we’ve downed our Coke, and checked in with the kids and grandkids, we headed to a little vanilla shop on the corner named “Mayan Fiesta.” The lure of vanilla shopping is lost on my husband. He tells me to go forth and conquer while he sits and enjoys the serenity of the ocean.

The store was colorful, vibrant, and so was my salesman, Phillip. His English was impeccable, which helped, since my Spanish doesn’t extend much past “tacos.”

He enthusiastically pointed out that their best-selling items are the rum cakes, made at a local factory that produces 800 single-serve cakes daily. The shop isn’t limited to myriad bottles of vanilla or rum cakes, though. Its multiple hot sauce blends are increasing in popularity.

Too suddenly, it was the last day of our cruise. We awoke at 6 a.m. My heart was set on one last leisurely breakfast before my chef’s hat was passed back to me. I wanted to be served one more time.

We had spent the previous four days trying to imprint on our minds which elevators will take us to the hot tubs on Lido deck and to the Blush restaurant on the lower floor, where a formal breakfast is served.

However, our elevator didn’t go to that level. On our last day (we’re quick learners), we solved the puzzle and were the first in line. We soon learned this wasn’t such a difficult feat, given the restaurant didn’t open for another hour.

We decided to forgo our last pampered breakfast and traverse the elevator system to the Lido deck and laboriously serve ourselves.

Knowing the dreaded four-letter word (diet) awaited us when the cruise ended, we loaded our plates like it was our last meal. It wasn’t hard to find a seat by the window, or anywhere else for that matter, since most cruisers were where we should have been – fast asleep.

With our plates overflowing, we followed our doctor’s advice to chew slowly, not really for digestion, but to kill time.
My husband seemed amused with my slim pickings and shocked to learn that my total purchases at Cozumel were for two bottles of vanilla for $10. His need to know that these two bottles of vanilla would be joining my stash of 10 bottles neatly tucked away in the pantry didn’t seem that important.

This is my husband’s favorite dessert on Carnival.

Carnival Cruise Line Warm Chocolate Melting Cake


3/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
3/4 Cup Butter
4 Eggs, room temperature
¾ Cup Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Flour


Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan, cool 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together. Add vanilla and flour and whisk until flour is well mixed in. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool completely, then add the egg mixture. Spray four 7 oz. ramekins with vegetable spray and pour the batter into the ramekins about three-fourths full.

Bake for 14 minutes. The cake should be spongy on the top, but the middle should be melted and gooey. Do not overcook though. Serve the cake hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I prefer Blue Bunny Vanilla, but if you are a Blue Bell fan, go for it.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)