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Panorama Mexican Rivera notes from Jan 18-25th


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Had a fantastic trip but ended up leaving the boat with some kind of bug that had me feeling terrible for a week. Feeling much better this week and wanted to provide a few notes from my cruise to possibly help other as I have enjoyed when others have shared their experiences.

 

Parking and cruise terminal: 

     Everything was easy. Arrived at around 11:30 am, found parking, and was inside the cruise terminal within 15 min. Super easy and efficient at Long Beach cruise terminal.

 

Embarkation: 

     Embarkation was orderly and very efficient as well. Each zone was called and as people started to get into rhythm the pace picked up and we were on the ship in no time with a B boarding designation. On the ship around 12:15-12:20. You do board near the casino area and right into the Hero’s bar. Everyone heads to Guys burgers and Lido buffet but I remember other cruisers comments about Pig and Anchor and head straight there for lunch. Great decision! Practically empty! Put some tables together for our group, grabbed some food, the chicken (soooo good) and sausage were my favorites there, and got a few beers with Cheers package to wash it all down. Good fresh beer! After eating we headed to Lido deck to grab another drink and the crowds were much heavier there. Definitely avoid Lido on embarkation if you can.

 

Another note about embarkation is the smoking situation is really terrible. There really is zero places to smoke after boarding and all the way up to post muster drill. People were scrambling to deck 5 after muster and it was the talk of the area with everyone essentially peeved to the umteenth degree. Carnival really needs to find a solution to temporarily accommodate smokers during the bunkering that maintains safety AND accommodates passengers. Folks are eating, drinking, and starting their vacations. Having to wait hours upon hours to enjoy your tobacco products is irritating/frustrating. The frustration is only compounded when staff direct you to smoking decks and the casino and you run all over the ship only to learn that there is no area to enjoy your tobacco products. I suppose you could leave the ship and terminal but that is ridiculous. If you have smokers in your group this is a real issue and something to consider when boarding. 

 

Staterooms: 

     My stateroom was ready on time and provided adequate space for two with plenty of room for storage. Any piece of paper will work for the slot to keep the lights on. I really enjoyed the ship cams and the information channel that showed position, sailing conditions, and weather and info. Very useful to get a sense of where you are in your journey. 

 

Sail away party and atmosphere:

     There was a lot of energy for sail away. We thought Emma did a great job. I did hear lots of grumblings from other passengers about “her voice being annoying” and her intros “hello lovely’s” and singing intros. I think they were just looking for something to complain about and unless you have Smokey Robinson doing the MCing I’m sure there will always be some who are unhappy for a variety of reasons. We thought she was high energy and all the deck parties were fun and high energy. My kids had a blast dancing along and getting down.

 

Camp Ocean & Circle C:

     My kids had a blast on this trip. I barely seen them for most of the cruise. They made friends easily and had a great time with Cassandra over at Circle C. Unfortunately, one of his new friends broke his arm on some stairs on the second day but the medical team patched him up to hold him over until we got back and he was able to have a fun trip despite the injury.  Even my little guy, who was really reluctant to go to camp ocean (had to bribe him the first time on this trip as he refused entirely on our last cruise), ended up loving it and asking to return to Camp Ocean. He now says he loves Camp Ocean but only Panorama (my optimism is high for future cruises).

 

More to come. 

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Cheers Package/drink service:

     The cheers package was totally worth it for me this trip. I definitely got my money's worth and it was a great value. I tried lots of different drinks, shakes, coffees, spiked coffee, Gatorade, mixed drinks, various beers, and different wines. They have removed the large format sparking Perrier waters and substituted another brand and they now carry a charge and are no longer part of cheers. The wine also seems to be really inconsistent on the ship. Many of the bars that had wine on the menus were out and only had a few selections. Once you found a wine you liked, you generally had to return to the same bar to have another glass. Serenity bar and Tides bars seemed to have the best selections IMO. 

 

I would really like to see a dedicated wine bar on the ship. It would be nice to have consistent offerings and all the offerings consolidated. Not everyone prefers mixed drinks and beer and while you can find something usually at most bars, it’s often a compromise on what you actually wanted. This is especially true if you are getting wine delivered to you. It seems a few offerings are universally available while everything else is hit or miss.

 

Drink service was pretty good during most of the cruise. There were a few times when it was non-existent (like an hour or two between seeing anyone) but most of the time it was good. I always tip a bit extra for drink delivery since I consider that a service above/beyond merely pouring a drink at a bar that I have to fetch myself. I do believe this helps speed up service and return visits by the service runners. We even got good service on deck 12 hanging out by the Water Works area. For anyone who may be interested, you can buy cigarettes at the Casino, Red Frog, and Tides bars for about $7.50 to your sign and sail. Service runners will happily bring them for you as well if requested.

 

Casino & casino bar:

     The casino and casino bar were a lot of fun. Met a bunch of great people at the craps table and a few characters as well. Made the late evenings really entertaining even if I ended up down when all was said and done. The slots were not nice either but that’s to be expected. The only games that offer good odds are blackjack/craps IMO. Makes for fun entertainment nonetheless. Also bought a few scratchers and filled out the back for the drawing on the last night but unfortunately my name was not called as one of the three winners (no one got the big money anyway, the biggest prize was $25). The casino bar is definitely a central hub. Probably the best place to sit and chill at. Met lots of various folks and had interesting conversations with folks from all over. People seem to come and go there so there are usually fresh faces around throughout the evening. The bar staff there are also really cool and outgoing have no problem chopping it up with passengers. Makes for a fun atmosphere that is like a mini Vegas vibe.

 

Nightclub:

     The night club has a great DJ who plays good jams. There were a few nights where it was slow and others where it was jumping. One night my buddy and I attended and there were no more than 25 people. We still had a good time but assumed it would be like that the whole cruise. We were wrong. The second formal night was the busiest I saw it. I was at the casino bar having drinks with my travel companions and while going to the restroom near Hero bar I hear all these great jams. Well, I mosey on over and it’s jumping this evening. Gathered the group and headed over for a fun night at the nightclub. Good music, good energy, good vibes, and everyone was grooving and having a great time. Makes me wonder if I missed other good nights or if it was just too early when I passed by previously.

 

More to come.

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Food and main dining room:

     The food was fabulous on the Panorama. Nearly everything we ate during the cruise was prepared well and had great flavor. I didn’t eat at any specialty restaurants besides Pig & Anchor for lunch and as I stated I really enjoyed the chicken, sausage, and collard greens w/ smoked turkey. I personally didn’t make it to any of the sea day brunches again this cruise but everyone else raved about it with my wife really enjoying the brisket hamburger. Dr. Seuss breakfast was also a hit with the Mrs. and the little one. Staff were very energetic and the characters were interactive  with the little ones. My buddy who came on this cruise as well really enjoyed the Mongolian wok at JiJi’s for lunch.

 

The main dining room was excellent. All of the waiters were good and the service was consistent. One bright spot was a waiter named Dusan. He had impeccable service skills and didn’t miss the details: providing drink menus upon seating, serving courses to not overload the table, refreshing silverware between courses, observing drinks and refills, and offering up accouterments. Plus he can get down on it as well...lol. Guy has moves. He also made sure my son had a great birthday dinner and dessert one night. Everyone remarked how good the service was both times we had the pleasure of being in his section. 

 

The food from the main dining room was also very good. The flat iron steak was a unanimous hit, the lobster tails of course, the mussel dish with the mirepoix base  was one of the best I ever had, the filet mignon was delicious (ask for med rare, they tend to overcook these), cheesecake was great, and I had a lot of delicious salads and appetizers (tuna was delicious) that I used to make a meal as well and they were all fantastic. We honestly were never disappointed in even a single night in the main dining room. 

 

I did eat at the buffet on occasion, generally waking late and having my first meal there. The offerings were plenty, food fresh, and lines were basically non-existent when I was there. Spreading out the buffet into two areas was an excellent idea to increase flow through and it really does work well on a ship with so many passengers. They also had a nice cake section that was open in the afternoon that served delicious cakes. These were far superior to the small single serve options that are usually there. 

 

Crowds:

     was really worried about crowds and being overwhelmed when trying to get food and I must say that it was never really a concern. There were occasional lines for Guys burgers and Blue Iguana Cantina but the lines moved fast and the flow just worked to move people in and out.

 

I was also worried that there would be no where to sit and/or have some quiet time. This is absolutely not the case. Sure Lido is usually busy and finding a lounger can be tough if there is an event going on or a sea day. Deck 5 on the other hand, is a nice retreat to have some quiet, have a conversation, or catch some rays, especially the port side Lanai area. There are many times when you can have a whole area to yourself and all the solitude and/or quiet you want. Starboard forward also has a great smoking section with comfortable furniture/chairs that is not as busy as deck 11 starboard & aft. Great place to have a cigar. 

 

They have done a great job at spreading everything out. Decks 10, 11, 12 are where a lot of the action is and they all connect via short stairwells that make navigation a breeze. You can also navigate between them very easily with the elevators once you get a feel for the layout.  There is plenty of seating all over the ship and the activities spread out enough, and enough of them, to keep wait times at a min if there are any. 

 

The only time it was hard to get a seat was during football when the 49ers trounced the packers. Unfortunately, they didn’t play the first championship game on the big screen so this caused standing room only at Heros and large crowds at Guys Pig & Anchor. I ended up watching it in bits and pieces because there was nowhere to sit and the crowds were overwhelming the air conditioning and it was stuffy. Luckily someone came to their senses and put the 9er/Packers game on the big screen to the delight of the crowd. They even handed out blankets, brought extra chairs to fill in where they could,  and even made popcorn. That was a really nice touch and you could tell passengers really appreciate it. It was really fun watching on deck and I met a lot of 9er and Packers fans and it was simply a blast.

 

More to come.

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3 hours ago, cruisingguy007 said:

 

Another note about embarkation is the smoking situation is really terrible. There really is zero places to smoke after boarding and all the way up to post muster drill. People were scrambling to deck 5 after muster and it was the talk of the area with everyone essentially peeved to the umteenth degree. Carnival really needs to find a solution to temporarily accommodate smokers during the bunkering that maintains safety AND accommodates passengers. Folks are eating, drinking, and starting their vacations. Having to wait hours upon hours to enjoy your tobacco products is irritating/frustrating

 


This is not a Carnival policy.  This is California's smoking policy.  It's pretty restrictive.  I'm sure a cruise ship is considered public transportation.  Just curious… did you have to wait until out to sea before smoking opened up ?

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DCDIC/CTCB/CDPH Document Library/Policy/SecondhandSmoke/SHSLawBrochureFinal.pdf

 

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3 minutes ago, VentureMan_2000 said:


This is not a Carnival policy.  This is California's smoking policy.  It's pretty restrictive.  I'm sure a cruise ship is considered public transportation.  Just curious… did you have to wait until out to sea before smoking opened up ?

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DCDIC/CTCB/CDPH Document Library/Policy/SecondhandSmoke/SHSLawBrochureFinal.pdf

 

 

As soon as muster was over you are able to smoke on deck 5 (I assume 11 as well). Did not have to wait until sail away but it's a long time from when you first board.  

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Ports:

     The ports of call were all awesome and the weather for this cruise was fabulous, sunny and beautiful. Cabo has all the water-sports activities you can want. The tendering situation isn’t ideal so if you want to get off early it would be best to get FTTF or buy an excursion if you’re not platinum/diamond. You can also pay attention to the announcement about the tender passes but it can really only be heard if you are on a quieter deck like deck 5. I happened to be outside of Pig & Anchor and was able to hear it easily but forget about it if you’re on Lido or another loud location. You won’t hear it (or understand it rather).  

 

Mazatlan is a strange port. Have to take a tram to get to/from the ship and this also takes up a bit of time but no where near tendering. It’s also next to a run down area.  Our group did the hop-on-hop-off deal and you actually can see a lot if you get off early. We didn’t but still had a good time. You get to see some of the not so nicer sides but it’s part of the charm IMO. You can see a large part of the area and hop on/off at certain points. The golden zone was the nicest area and they are putting money into the area to develop it and it shows. We ate at The Shrimp Factory and the shrimp/seafood were ridiculously good (especially the garlic shrimp OMG). We also saw the cliff diver, the church, and market. You could even visit a zoo at one stop. The drivers were knowledgeable and there were representatives in yellow jackets at each stop to answer questions and be a contact point.

 

Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful area but my son was set on using WaterWorks so we just enjoyed the day there while he went down the little slide like 500 times and my older kids hit the large slides. The staff at Waterworks were awesome and really friendly while also keeping the environment safe. You really do have free reign of the ship when in port. Everything is basically empty and it’s quite nice to enjoy all the amenities with zero crowds. Some of our travel companions got off and hired a driver for a tour and did some walking around. They reported really enjoying their day. I plan to sail this itinerary again and I plan to explore the area more on my next visit. May even go next year on my birthday, they are offering a great rate since I got back! Whoo-hoo!

 

Return back/disembarkation:

     The return trip back is as others reported, rocking and rolling. Much different than the way out. The weather is also much cooler as you return to the California area. I actually had to take some dramamine and three of our party got a bit seasick. This hasn’t happened before and I’ve been on some small rocky boats. If you are sensitive to motion then I would highly advise you to book the middle of the ship lower down. We were booked forward and it felt like a gentle hammock on the way back. I thought people may have been exaggerating the motion but it’s the real deal and you will feel it the entire time.

 

Embarkation seemed to be slower on Panorama but it was orderly and quick once your time came. Use the porters in the middle ($2 a bag tip), they will get you through CBP much faster than standing in the long self service line and take you straight to the elevators. Makes getting back to your vehicle much faster and easier. 

 

Final thoughts:

     My family and travel companions really enjoyed the cruise. I brought three first time cruisers and they are now sold and proclaimed “now I get why you like cruising”. All the employees we encountered were excellent and service was good across the board. It’s a nice port itinerary that offers lots of options. The ship layout is fantastic and really helps to spread things out and keep crowds down. Plus provides lots of different areas to hang out and relax in. Great dining options. My wife has mentioned daily how she can’t wait to return and my kids as well. They actually exchanged phone numbers with some of the kids they met and stayed in contact. Carnival did a great job in delivering bang for the buck and I feel we got tremendous value from our vacation dollars. Can’t wait to do it again!    

 

Edited by cruisingguy007
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1 hour ago, VentureMan_2000 said:


This is not a Carnival policy.  This is California's smoking policy.  It's pretty restrictive.  I'm sure a cruise ship is considered public transportation.  Just curious… did you have to wait until out to sea before smoking opened up ?

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DCDIC/CTCB/CDPH Document Library/Policy/SecondhandSmoke/SHSLawBrochureFinal.pdf

 

I think it's more related to the loading bridge that is used in Long Beach requires they board on deck 4 where the casino is. Since everyone has to walk through that area they make it nonsmoking until after embarkation. And no ship allows smoking on outside decks while they're bunkering fuel for safety purposes.

 

Hopefully they'll update the boarding bridge since Panorama is going to be there for a while so normal boarding will be on deck 3.

 

Suzy

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Smoked drink from Guys Pig and Anchor. The torch lighter only worked for two days of the cruise and the drink wasn't available after that. One of my travel companions went back everyday trying to get this but no luck. 

20200121_213850.jpg

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Great great review very informative 

just curious were the slots available 24 hours? And if not did you happen to notice if they opened the slots before arriving in Cabo 

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12 hours ago, JGB said:

Great great review very informative 

just curious were the slots available 24 hours? And if not did you happen to notice if they opened the slots before arriving in Cabo 

 

Not sure if they were 24 hours, they shut the tables down on us around 3:30 am each day and also closed the bar so I usually returned to my stateroom after that. They actually close it before arriving in Cabo and any other ports. No casino action while in port, machines are all locked out. Opens on sail away at each port at 12 miles out to sea (pretty quickly).  

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