Truly enjoyed the inaugural 7- day cruise of the Carnival Panorama. We are avid cruisers (71 cruises and counting) and have not been on Carnival in many years. Our expectations were not the greatest, although we thought it would be great to try out this new vessel. We were extremely surprised on so many levels, which I will get into later in this review.
It’s wonderful that Carnival has placed a brand-new, State of the Art, vessel into Long Beach. For many years, the west coast has not seen any new vessels. It’s very nice that Carnival Corp. has made the decision to invest in this coast. We were very happy when Royal Princess came to this coast and are now very pleased with the Panorama being here.
Long Beach is a very nice pre-cruise stay. There are so many wonderful choices of hotels here, due to its convention city status. We enjoy staying at the Hyatt Regency, but there are, again, so many hotels to choose from. Also, the city has many wonderful restaurants, sights and entertainment venues all within blocks of these hotels.
The embarkation area for Carnival is 5 minutes by taxi or Uber from most LB hotels. Embarkation takes place in the massive ”Spruce Goose” dome, which Carnival converted (and wonderfully) into a very nice embarkation/debarkation area. Our embarkation took some time, but we chalked this up to the first seven-day cruise that this ship was on. I would be surprised if this happens again.
Once onboard, we were quickly able to go to our room (where our room keys were waiting for us).
We chose an oceanview cabin towards the bow of the ship on Deck 3. We were very happy with our room, including the bed, storage space and bathroom. Surprised to see a shower curtain on a brand new ship as most have done away with those. It did NOT diminish our accommodations, and we were very pleased. Our steward, Angel, did not see us until early in the evening. We felt he was rushed and maybe the ship was a bit understaffed in this area. We never saw him again on the cruise. A very minor criticism is that our room was only cleaned once per day. When the room was cleaned, it was set up for turn down? We did call housekeeping a few times and received towels when we needed them.
The vessel itself is spectacular! Every inch of the ship was clean, beautiful and stunning in its décor. The atrium lobby and bar, with a three-story LED tower was incredible! The fact that everything was decorated for the holiday season also added to the beauty.
Foodservice disclaimer: We did not dine in the MDR except for one morning brunch, so I don’t have much to say here. The brunch food was okay and the service was okay (although the three courses we ordered were all served at one time). We ate in all but one of the Specialty Restaurants and we were blown away by the tremendous presentations and food quality in each one.
FARENHEIT 555: (extra charge) The steakhouse, with its dry age refrigeration unit and open kitchen as a focal point, was nothing short of spectacular! We have only seen food like this on Crystal and Oceana! I don’t know if Carnival will keep this up, but it is some of the finest food at sea! USDA Prime Steaks were excellent. The presentations AND the tastes of every dish were unbelievably good. We ate in this restaurant three times in our seven days, and tried almost every dish on the menu. Kudos to the chef for such outstanding work, from the different Amuse-Bouche each evening, to the dessert presentation that will blow you away! Great wine list, beautifully served and presented by Alex, the mixologist/sommelier of the room. Vanja, the Steakhouse manager, was both extremely professional with her staff, as well as wonderful with the guests. I can absolutely qualify this outlet (as of now) as the finest Steakhouse on the sea.
PIG AND ANCHOR: (extra charge) This Guy Fieri BBQ outlet was very nice. The brewed beers are all made onboard (as the tanks are directly across from the bar), and the BBQ is all smoked onboard as well. We found this outlet, along with great entertainment, a wonderful hangout for many guests.
JIJI ASIAN KITCHEN: (extra charge) Spectacular food, both in taste and presentation. Excellent service as well. The Pork Belly and Crispy Dick are two of the items that I will not forget for a very long time.
CUCINA DE CAPITANO: (extra charge) Again, wonderful staff (loved the Mambo Italiano dancing by the staff). All of the food was served piping hot and excellent in both quality and preparation. Pastas were very good, but my Tomahawk Pork Chop was the Bomb!! It was perfectly cooked and delicious.
BONSAI SUSHI: (extra charge) Beautifully decorated open restaurant that is an ala carte outlet. Everything we dined on here, including sushi rolls, Ramen Soups, appetizers and desserts tasted great and were presented wonderfully. Cannot overstate the quality of the food as it has really decreased on most cruise ships.
BONSAI TEPPANYAKI: (extra charge) We did NOT dine here, but wished we had. This is a very small outlet with only 20 seats. IF you want to dine here, I suggest either reserve BEFORE you board or immediately after you board. It will be filled quickly.
SEAFOOD SHACK: Another extra charge outlet located next to the aft pool. Food was incredibly fresh and delicious. All items were made to order (including breading all of the shrimp and clams as you wait). Lobster Rolls were excellent and the French fries (dusted with Old Bay Seasoning) were great.
PIZZERIA DEL CAPITANO: Excellent (no charge) pizza cooked almost to order! Great crust and a wonderful product considering there was no charge. Lines can get long here, but worth the wait. For $5.00, you can order a pizza thru your onboard app and have it delivered ANYWHERE onboard the vessel!
BLUE IGUANA AND GUY’S BURGER JOINT: (no charge) Located at the main pool, these outlets served made to order items. BI served delicious tacos, as well as burritos. Guy’s cooked burgers from scratch, with many toppings and extras. Both were excellent, but lines can be long due to proximity to pool, as well as no charge.
THE MARKETPLACE BUFFET: Not great quality of food here as this is a mass feeder. The area is broken up into many stations, and like most ship buffets, can get overwhelmed during peak periods. The Gelato station was very nice, but again, gets very crowded.
BARS AND LOUNGES: There are so many choices on the vessel that I will not go into most of them. I will mention a few favorites:
SERENITY BAR: This area is located on the bow of the ship on deck 15. It has the feel of a Las Vegas day club AND (yay) is for Adults only!! Great drinks, wonderful area for sunning (along with two hot tubs) and a really nice salad bar, served with wonderfully fresh ingredients.
ALCHEMY BAR: Located near restaurant row, this bar seemed to be the busiest bar onboard. Always busy, with a great vibe to it.
HAVANA BAR: This bar, located aft, should be a very exciting area, but for some reason, it is not! Beautiful surroundings and nice drinks. Opens up on an infinity pool and bar that is only for Havana Suites guests (which I have no problem with). This bar just suffered from lack of guests and a poor Latin band that really needed to play livelier Latino music. This was our biggest disappointment, as we love Latin music and Mojitos!!
ENTERTAINMENT: We enjoyed all of the mainstage shows we saw. They were all different and very high energy. The added Christmas show was just perfect for the holidays. The PUNCHLINER COMEDY CLUB, was a highlight. The comedians were all great and hilarious. A warning here as the EXPLICIT shows later in the evening are incredibly raunchy!! Hysterical, but very dirty. Be warned if you take your 18 year or older children here. We really loved it though!!
The CRUISE DIRECTOR: Emma, the cruise director of the Panorama, was the most energetic, hilarious, campy and overall wonderful CD we have seen in many years. She must be a spokesperson for RED BULL, as she is on from sun up well past 11 p.m.!! I would book any ship she was on just to envelop myself in her energy levels! KUDOS to her and her staff for making every waking minute as much fun as you can take!
The ELEVATORS: You either LOVE them or HATE them. Once you get used to the technologically advanced elevators, I believe you will enjoy them. Be patient when you first board as it takes a bit of getting used to.
The Waterpark and Sky ride areas are great for kids. Be aware that on Sea days, the lines can be brutal. IF you really want to ride the Skyride, I suggest PORT days, when the lines are really manageable.
Disembarkation was simple, although it seemed many people were confused. It was not as smooth as most, but once we were off the ship, we breezed thru everything and were on the way to the airport.
I did notice many handwashing stations and the obligatory Purell stations everywhere, but we did NOT see much emphasis on washing your hands. All of the cruises that we have been on lately REALLY emphasize this, especially during the safety drill. It was not on this ship. Just an FYI, nothing more.
We are very excited that this great new vessel is on the West Coast. This is a wonderful alternative to taking your family to Disneyland!! Everything you could possibly want is onboard. The ports of Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta have something for everyone; if not, stay onboard and have the time of your life!!