Best Cruise Ever - in some ways

Carnival Panorama Cruise Review to Mexico

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 9
Helpful Votes: 115

Overall rating:

4.2 out of 5
Carnival Panorama

7 Night Mexican Riviera (Los Angeles Roundtrip)

Sail date: September 25, 2021

Ship: Carnival Panorama

Cabin type: Inside

Cabin number: 10295

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 7 months ago

Review summary

We only had 2200 guests out of a 4008 capacity. No lines, no chair hogs (except some prime locations) no waiting. It was a whole different experience not worrying about lines and too many people, etc. If you haven't done Carnival in a while I would say give it a shot. This ship decor reminded me of a Princess ship, the food was about as good as any mass market cruise with much better options like Guy's and the crew definitely seemed to be having more fun than on any other line. You don't need to be a party animal or even drink to love Carnival!


5 out of 5
Carnival will not let you check in and select your boarding time until 14 days before the cruise. If you want an early check in time, set your alarm for 12 am (midnight) Eastern time on that day. If you are on the West Coast that is at 9 pm 15 days before your cruise. I got 12 pm boarding. I arrived at the terminal at 12 pm. The first big line is to verify your vax card and negative test. That is the only place you need to show them. One more big line to check in then wait for your boarding group to be called. The group number is already on your boarding pass that you print at home so coming early doesn't get you an earlier boarding group. We were on the ship in one hour. I talked to someone who arrived to port at 1 pm and the lines were much longer. Overall smooth embarkation.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The food was pretty good overall. Some meals in the MDR and Buffet were lackluster but others were fabulous. All the hype about Guy's Burgers is true. I ate one every day. They list types of burgers to order but you can customize it also. Two patties? No problem. Blue Iguana was meh. Breakfast burrito was nothing special, fish taco was kind of soggy, chicken was the best. You can order some of the food from the specialty restaurants in the MDR and it is actually cheaper! The Sushi Boat is $23 in the Sushi restaurant but the exact same thing is $18 in the MDR. The Surf and Turf is $38 in Fahrenheit 555 but $20 in the MDR. You don't get the specialty appetizer and desert though. They did serve lobster on the first formal night. Don't forget about Guy's Pig & Anchor barbecue lunch buffet on deck 5. The deli sandwich place makes a mean Reuben! I hated that there was about 4 hours of no buffet between lunch and dinner. There is always something to eat somewhere but too long between buffets. We did JiJi's Asian specialty restaraunt. It was tasty. The portions were kind of small so don't come hungry. The Cook asked us if the portion size was OK so maybe they would give you more if you said it was not enough. Also did F. 555, my wife's filet was no better than the MDR, my 18 oz. was really flavorful. The desert "Art" thing was an experience. Carnival does a pretty good spread.

Bonsai Teppanyaki

5 out of 5

We didn't eat there but the people looked like they were having a lot of fun. It looks like they only have two tables. The reservations for this were sold out before we boarded but I noticed some reservations opened up late in the cruise. If you want it, you should reserve before boarding.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
I only tried the slide with no floatie. It was pretty slow actually. We rode the skyrider. That was amazing. There is no line when it opens in the morning. We rode it 2 times in a row.


4 out of 5
Comedians and Sing/Dance shows was pretty much it. Both seemed fine. Carnival certainly tries to make new and different type stage shows. Not the same old Vegas shows or Broadway rip-offs. I got to admit, Carnival is original even if I probably like the Vegas/Broadway shows better.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Service was pretty good considering they are all doing on the job training. Crew seemed appreciative we were there. They only make up room 1 X daily now (same tip amount of course). We still got towel animals though! Crew seemed happy.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Crew did a great job cleaning, picking up dishes, etc. Worst cruise for hand sanitation. I hoped after Covid, people would want to sanitize their hands before eating. Nope. There were lots of hand sanitizer around but most people would not use it. The crew never asked anyone to use it. Entering the buffet, you will not see the sanitizer station. You can find it over by the tables across from where you get your plates. Maybe 1 in 10 people would use it. I also saw several people leaving the bathroom stall and not washing their hands. Assume everything you touch has Norovirus on it. Your only hope is to sanitize your hands right before you start eating so bring a bottle to use at the table. I miss the NCL "Washy Washy" guy who would not let anyone in the buffet if they didn't sanitize.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Cabin was good size. Plenty of storage for two. Our cabin was on Lido and was the closest to the deck. We heard a soft drum of music when a late night party was going on but definitely heard the Cruise Director when he yelled into his microphone, "Make some noise!" Not too much of a bother though.

Ship tip

I was talked into adding the Thermal Spa package for the cruise. The unlimited access price was $219 for two people on the first day special. So if you are contemplating the Spa rooms and it cost more than $110 pp over a normal room then it may not be worth it. Note, there is a free wet sauna in the locker rooms in the Spa area. Ask for a robe from your steward. Use bug spray before excursions. My wife got bit a lot.

Ports of call

Long Beach (Los Angeles), California

4 out of 5

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

4 out of 5
We did the Yelapa and Mahajuitas beach day. Was really nice. The "hike" to the waterfall was well worth it.

Mazatlan, Mexico

5 out of 5
We did the All Inclusive Resort. It was good. The buffet was very good. The beach and the pool areas are not near each other. You have to walk and take a boat ride to get between them. I suggest going to beach first in order to get best selection of lounge chairs, then eat, then go to pool. Go to the second "action" pool area. It has a really cool Cave to explore. The Beach area has a loud obnoxious bingo game in the afternoon. All you hear is "B12, G8..." blaring over the loud speaker if you go to beach in afternoon.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

4 out of 5
Pretty location but salespeople all over the dock area. I get it that they are trying to make a living but some get a little pushy. Not Jamaica pushy but more than the other Mexico stops. We did the Dolphin Swim and it was amazing. Definitely do the underwater swim but don't wait for the guide to count to three. Hold your breath on "one". The dolphins don't wait for "three". Digital pictures and video was $235. Pure robbery but just try not to buy it after seeing yourself SWIM with dolphins.


5 out of 5
It seemed the luggage self check out was pretty late, around 9:30 I think. Pretty smooth. Face recognition for passport holders was quick but the birth-certificate line looked even shorter.
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