Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

Nevada Jen

  • Content Count

  • Joined

Everything posted by Nevada Jen

  1. Too funny LaRue. I finally would have changed ships when they announced the no coke rule if I could have. I too was not excited about the Mexican Riviera. I ended up loving it because of great excursions. Who decided we wouldn’t notice it was Mexico if they put the word “Riviera” after it? And I was very displeased that the captain booked it out of PV to the cold so fast. I had heard the piano bars were great fun and out of 3 cruises they have been uncomfortably lame for me. It could be a timing thing I guess. I really do think others will love the Panorama. It just didn’t work for me. I might be biased by the never ending cough that lasted 14 days and kind of stole my joy on sea days! My next cruise has to be on another line with limited sea days so I can figure out if it is an air purifying thing on Carnival. You all are too kind to say I am humorous. Trust me when I say, no one finds humor in my opinions in my day to day life!
  2. LaRue. I think you will love that cabin! Before I sailed I thought those 6th floor balconies would be too loud because of the Havana area but not I think it will be just fine. The Havana bar is inside solid doors. The doors spin maddeningly slow by the way. There is a backside of the bar for Havana pool guests but it’s not a hoppin place. It looked like the rooms or balconies were bigger on 6 from the shape of the ship but even if they are not, it’s plenty big. Plus less soot!
  3. Lol. I knew I had the debark times wrong. I think it was actually related to me waiting to change my clock. Someone asked what time we had to be back on board in PV. I think we have established that you can’t trust me on time or directions but I think it was 730. To the poster who has my cabin in an upcoming sailing, I left old fashioned plastic straws in the desk drawer. There are enough to last a year. You’re welcome! And I hope you have the same cabin steward. He was genuinely nice and like a magic elf cleaning our cabin. I think his name was Komang. And yes, all the time changes are confusing. When you put your phone in airplane mode when you get on the ship make sure you change the time to set manually and then listen to Emma. All I remember was we were worried our 930 excursion meeting in mazatlan was going to be hard to make because it might actually be 830 ship time but then we moved the clock back an hour and it was fine.
  4. That is a tough call. The Havana bar part of deck 5 where the interiors are is actually really quiet. There are just little sitting areas there in kind of sectioned off alcoves. The band is in that middle section of the bar and faces the back of the ship (away from your room). Those might be better spots than deck 7. Or you could get a loud family who plays board games against your wall in the little sitting area all night long. The noise on deck 7 is the housekeeping crew for at least the half the floor getting all their cleaning carts and stuff out pretty constantly in the hallways along those balconies. And talking while doing it. From my room it was a bit of banging things against the hallway walls which were as far as possible from my bed. From the cruise deck plan site your entire back wall is against that area and I think your side wall may be also (remember I said I thought the cruise deck plan is not entirely accurate for that room?). Here is the thing, I heard the hallway noise through my room door but I did not hear room to room noise. Maybe someone who had the rooms on either side of me will chime in with whether they could hear me coughing all night. So it is very possible you would not be bothered by the crew area noise. The areas against your back wall could very well be shelves for linens. The area they enter and exit and did set up in the halls was in front of my room, not yours. The more I think about it, I think you chose right. There is a chance this turns out really good for you noisewise.
  5. Jbethel, My 14 year old grew up in Vegas. Seeing scantily clad women on billboards and cabs on a daily basis. He was traveling alone with teens and spending 30 hours a week without a parent with teens and coaches when he was 7 because of his sports involvment. He uses Uber better than me. The past two cruises the kids in Circle C have seemed way too young for him. Like the most mature were playing minecraft and thought being free to come and go as they pleased was a huge treat, while my kid was taking an uber downtown to go see a play or participate in a women's rights rally. My is a city kid. This cruise, the kids his age were more like him in maturity/exposure level. I suspect it is because the cruisers generally came from the same area of the country where we live.
  6. Sadly, the end: So it was finally debarkation day. Not gonna lie, the last two sea days were very rough sailing. It didn't bother me much because I was mainlining benedryl by this point because of breathing ship air. I think I said, the last night I finally gave up and slept out on the balcony. I feel a bit bad because I am sure the comforter I dragged out there was covered in soot, but holy cow! The stars and the silence on the balcony were really amazing. The last night we packed our bags. You pick up baggage tags the day before about mid day somewhere (I feel like it was Deck 7, but I can't really remember). Get one for each bag you are having Carnival take into the terminal for you). We got number 12 luggage tags. We put the bags out at about 9 that night (I think we had until 11:30). The next morning we had to be out of our room by 8:30. This is really early for a girl who got less than 3 hours of sleep on a balcony. And they were knocking on our door at 8. I had my alarm set for 8:07 and had the "snoozzin" sign on the door. This is the third cruise they have done this to us on, so it is clearly their practice. It really annoys me. I was going to be out on time. I didn't need to lose those 7 minutes of sleep just to assure them of that. Also, I should have smoked, because right at 8:30 they announced the no smoking anywhere on the ship rule again. We had tag 12 of close to 50 numbers, so I figured it would not be a long wait. My time is a little off that morning (unlike previous ships, they change the time frequently on this cruise and you really have to stay on top of it) but I think we pulled into port about 7ish. Yet they did not announce self debark, starting at the bottom floor until 11. and then numbers went really, really slow. They did a few decks of self debark one floor at a time and then started adding in the luggage people a couple of numbers at a time. I am pretty sure 3/4 of the ship stayed on deck 1 or 2 and self debarked. THat took more than an hour to get them off. I think our number finally got called around noon. We basically walked right off the ship without delay at that point. I was in great need a smoke at that point and I had heard that it is much faster with a porter. So we got a porter. The porter line was 10 minutes at customs and the regular line was over 30 minutes according to our porter and that looked correct. I was super nervous that maybe I was supposed to declare those cartons of cigarettes and was fighting an inner battle about whether I should set a good example for my son and be truthful or go with my "understanding" of the allowances or flat out lie about the cigs if asked. And then we got to the customs guy and handed him our already opened passports and he snapped "stay with your porter!" and slammed the books back in my hand and the crowd pushed me along and I was outside. Weirdest thing ever. Didn't even ask our names or say anything other than the porter sentence. I am used to the questions because my kid is a different race than us. We got outside and I told my son to wait on a bench with the bags while I went to smoke and he said "OK. Give me my passport in case we get separated and I have to go through customs by myself." He literally didn't even know we had gone through customs it was so perfunctory. We walked across a drive was and caught a cab to LAX. THe cab ride (not doing uber again from the port after our ride in, plus the cabs were right there) was 79 dollars. Ouch. We were at LAX with plenty of time to spare. In fact I am pretty sure it was 11:30, so clearly my debark time table is off somewhere! There was no line at security. The moment I went through, I bought a Diet Coke and drank that as I walked to the next store and bought a Diet Dr. Pepper. I even had time to go back out and smoke a couple of cigarettes and go back through security. Again, don't be afraid of LAX if you are flying in on Southwest. It was painfully easy and compact. Closing thoughts. This was a nice vacation and the cruise was somewhere between great and wonderful. I hate when people call Carnival the Walmart of cruiselines. That is really not at all fair. I have cruised one other line and this Carnival ship was nicer and the staff was more down to earth and friendly. This ship is so big that the kind of tacky things they do are super easily avoided. You tend to see the same people over and over again depending on where you hang out and your schedule. It seemed to be a mix of passengers mostly from Texas and California. In case you did not get the memo, these two states might as well be two different countries. There was a good bit of loud conversation that is perfectly acceptable in Texas but is not a good idea in CA. I never saw a fight but there was a noticeable dichotomy. Also, on previous cruises (all out of Florida) the teens always seemed young and unexposed compared to my son. That was not the vibe I got on this cruise, the older teens didn't appear clean cut and innocent as a group. Not sure if that means anything or was even true in actuality and if it was California cruising versus Florida cruising or related to Christmas. I would be interested to see if people who cruise Panorama in the future have the same take. Despite my positive experience, I think we will move on to Royal Caribbean. All things being equal, I am picking the ship with Diet Coke. Also, we realize that our favorite part of cruising is the shows, the food and the ports. We don't want trivia or games or pools or waterslides and we don't like Sea days later in the cruise. Also, I want to try someone else's ship air and see if that helps me not get sick. I know people have a ton of little questions about Panorama, so I hope this has been helpful even without photos to make it more exciting. Feel free to ask any questions you might have and I am happy to try to answer. Thanks for reading.
  7. Part 2 of the land part: I saved the best for last. I usually do not choose a Carnival Excursion if I can avoid it just because they tend to be a bit tame for us. A number of people had said the Carnival's Sea Safari was extremely fun and a family who seemed similar to us was doing it for a second time. So we signed up. So a little aside I am sure some of you will get a kick out of. I met a family through a social network site who were white with a black kid the same age as my son. We are also white with a black kid. Recently my son got to spend a lot of time with two transracial adoptees and he mentioned it was the first time in his life he ever met a family like ours. I wanted to make it happen again and plus this family seemed like we could be friends. Plus I was determined to be more daring socially on this cruise. Dangit! I was going to make new friends if it killed me. So we board and I find out the bad news about smoking and get off to smoke. In the terminal on my way back in (perhaps a couple of drinks in) I see the white people with the black teen girl! I know they will be so happy to meet me! I get in her face and over the top tell them how excited I am to meet them. The teen is a beautiful dark brown. The mom is a bit standoffish compared to online and doesn't seem to remember our connection as being significant. But whatever. We determine we will chat on board. At the Sea Safari. Turns out dad is a smoker, so we see each other a few times. Then it is PV day. We will force the kids together on the Sea Safari. We get off the ship but we do not see them. I see another white family with a lighter black kid but not my friends. And then the other family says "Hey are you Jen?" Oops. Wrong white parents with white kid in the terminal. I talked to that dad all week and I must have scared the crap out of the mom. They probably thought I was nuts mentioning Sea Safari. If you are reading this, super sorry! My mom used to accost random asian families (did I mention my sibs are Vietnamese?). I have officially become my mom! So onto the the Sea Safari excursion. Spoiler Alert: It was awesome!!!! I was super worried about the horses. I grew up riding, but 15 years ago I had a surgery where they accidentally cut a nerve in my leg. I have completely compensated and you really can't tell. About 7 years ago, when I was much skinnier and in way better shape, I tried to ride on a family vacation and I could not get my muscle to fire in the direction to lift me up over the horse. Like just nothing happened. I was really worried I would ruin the excursion by not being able to ride. I swore I would lose 30 pounds and get a personal trainer to work on that specific motion in the year leading up to the cruise. Didn't happen. I got fatter and more sedentary. Shocker. So a week before the cruise I started messing around on the stairs a few times a day trying to mimic making that muscle fire, but I was really worried. Long story short, it was no problem! THe horses were short and the guy helping knew exactly where to assist on my leg to help me pop over the horse. Backing up a bit, we met on the pier. There were a ton of people. We were at the back of the line but it had all the makings of a giant slow boring group tour. We had to wait a while for our small boats because another cruise ship in port was doing manuevers. Finally they broke us into small groups when they put us on the boat. Maybe about 25 per boat and we never saw the other boat groups again. We got a guide named Danny. Turned out to be the best luck of the cruise. He was awesome. Super fun and get the party going type of guy but still caring and safety conscious. He obviously loves his job. So first we took a zodiac boat ride to a pennisula, where we got on horses and rode to a waterfall. The horses were slow and knew where they were going, so zero riding skill was required but some of the ride was a bit treacherous so it had a good bit of thrill to it. (I should mention, Danny was nice enough to point out each spot we could get alcohol for the next leg of the journey and the horses were slow enough we could drink and ride at the same time.) We rode to a really pretty waterfall. There was a little resteraunt there and we had the best guacamole in the history of the world. Some people went in the water and jumped off the falls, but I think I mentioned, I'm not a fan of cold. We rode the horses back, jumped on the boat again and then went to a cove to snorkle. Not gonna lie, this was lame. You had to keep you life jacket on and there were too many boats and people. But it was nice to just float in the ocean and know there were 200 people to save you if a shark got you. Then we got back in the boat. At some point we saw whales. These were not big boats. The whales were much bigger than us. We stopped to watch them play. Which was a total added bonus. Then, we went to an even more remote end of the pennisula and had a buffet lunch (which was gross in my opinion) and an open bar. Again, Danny was quick to point out the bar, and people were doing shots and having lots of fun. Finally on the way back, not more than 50 yards from our 20 seater boat, a giant whale jumped out of the water in a huge arch, way higher than our boat and splashed back down. I got 8 photos. 4 empty water, 1 whale nose in the very corner if you use your imagination, and 4 giant splashes. It was pretty much the coolest thing I have ever seen. Finally we headed back to port and the fun was over. Best excursion ever and we had a super fun group of people with us that made it even better. I am sure we will stay friends with two of the families and we now have a rating system for how bad we need to pee based on whether it is "worse than Ace." A few things. Carnival's website describes the excursion activity level as Difficult or extremely difficult or something like that. I would't say you need to be in top physical shape to do this but there was a good bit of hard walking, some walking through streams with a bit of a current and a few places where you had to get in out of a boat and wade to shore and transfer between aggressively bobbing boats in the middle of the ocean. Carnival says the minimum age is 10 and that is about the minimum age I would feel safe with (recall that I am not a huge safety freak from letting my 14 year old drive an ATV on city streets in a do not travel zone). Honestly, the hardest part is boat parts. You really fly around and have to hold on. My 70 year old dad could easily do this (my mom could too, but recall the fake brake). I don't think I could do a 3 mile hike very easily and I was just fine on the excursion. My point being, its difficult compared to riding around on a bus, but this is not extreme adventure stuff. If they don't say it, you should wear at least capri's for the horseback riding part. You can bring a bag with you that they will help you attached to the saddle horn but don't bring a ton. We brought one beach towel for the two of us. I can't recall if they required closed toed shoes but I wore mine for the horseback ride and the beach and was glad I did because of rocks. There is a person in addition to the guide who takes photos the whole time and also helps. You can buy the photos at the end and it was a good deal for the flash drive. Its a long excursion. We did not get to see PV. We were exhausted when we came back. So tired we missed Christmas Dinner on board. My son fell asleep sitting on the bed. I never did see the nice white family I accosted in the terminal after that point. I still feel bad how much I must have freaked them out! Next up: Debarkation
  8. I'm really sorry that you can't transfer but honestly, Cabo is not the worst port to miss. My daughter was in a wheel chair and very disabled. So we never cruised until she passed away because I didn't think it would be possible in a wheelchair. Now that I am more experienced, I can see that it would have been possible but we would have had to miss some things. But it does give me the ability to judge wheelchair friendliness. Some tenders I think we could have pulled off in a wheelchair but not Cabo. In Mazatlan you have to take a tram from the ship to the end of the port. Its a working port and they will not let you traverse through there. You might want to contact Carnival Special Needs and make sure they have wheelchair accessible shuttles. The ship itself is pretty wheelchair friendly. One of my giant pet peeves was always high table only restaurants. There is a good mix of table heights. Not a lot of spots where you have to go a million miles to get an elevator because you can't make it up a flight of stairs. I think you will love the buffet set up because its not one long line of stations which makes it easier to manuever. I don't think you will be able to get into a hot tub because I think they were all raised and required steps. I don't remember any bars with low sections but the roving waiter service was pretty good on our cruise. The havana bar has great seating for wheelchair folks because the chairs all move. If shows are important to you, see if they will let you scope out a spot in the showroom (what is the dang name of it!) beforehand and maybe enter to get seated beforehand. Not a lot of crowd pinchpoints on the ship which is nice is chair.
  9. THe Land Part: First stop was Cabo. You have to get a tender ticket the day before on the 5th floor (near pixels if I remember correctly). The tender boats are small and it takes a long time to get everyone off the ship, so if you have a non carnival excursion, pay attention to when those tickets go up. I feel like it was a good hour after clearance before they got through groups 1-3. We had three big ships in port, so that might have made the tender process extra slow. We had 47 (which was the end of the "early" tenders" I feel like we got off the ship at about 11:30. Word to the wise, these are not big stable boats that its easy to move from the ship to the tender. There is a pretty big gap between the ship and the tender and the tender was really bobbing around. I don't think anyone other than a fully able bodied adult or at least a grade school aged kid could have transferred safely. I few people tendered with strollers but it was scary watching them carry a baby or toddler onto the tender. The port has a good sized market right off the ship. We really hated the in your face aggressive sales of excursions and trinkets in Nassau and I was worried about this port. There were a lot of sellers but they were actually very nice and it did not feel threatening like Nassau. We just ate at a restaurant and shopped in the little bazar in the port area. Maybe I was supposed to negotiate but I thought the prices were like slightly low American prices. We wanted to go to Medano beach and it would have been easy to find a water taxi there but I wasn't positive on how we would get back and it just seemed a bit sketchy to me (single mom with a non adventurous kid). We were happy enough with our experience and happy to get back on board and enjoy the sunshine. Unlike previous cruises, a lot of people stayed on board at every port. Many of these people had done this same cruise multiple times or land vacations to these places and were happy to stay on the ship. Next Port Stop was Mazatlan. This is the one with all the homeland security safety warnings. So of course we decided to take a countryside ATV non ship tour. My kid is obsessed with driving and I called and they would let his 14 year old butt drive his own ATV so we were in. The guide met us at the port. He was easy to find and we waited a bit for a group from the Joy to join us and then we boarded pick-up trucks with canopys and benches in the back and headed a good ways through town to the ATV shop. We saw some areas of Mazatlan not meant to be seen by cruisers and it was obvious that it is not as safe as it looks from the pier. Unlike other countries where I would describe areas as shockingly poor, these areas looked war-torn. The streets were empty and we were in a moving vehicle, so I didn't feel particularly unsafe but I definitely wouldn't have wanted to be on foot in these areas. The area around the shop was busy and touristy and seemed safe. We each got our own ATV and took off with basically no instruction on busy city streets and highways for a good 4 miles! I was not expecting that or I probably would not have let my 14 year old drive. They let a 12 year old girl drive by herself also! Despite this, it did not feel unsafe. There was a tour guy at the front and back and then one crusings back and forth on the line next to us in a motor cycle. We drove through dirt trails and forrests (the 12 year old ran into a tree) on some pretty rough terrain and then headed for a really deserted beach where we got to go fast. One 15 year old flipped his ATV (or it flipped him) into the ocean and he landed under it. That was pretty scary and it took about an hour to get going from there because the ATV had a flat and they wouldn't just leave it there. Luckily there was a doctor in the group and the 15 year old was fine. This was a really fun excursion for us. Really great for a group with teens. Probably not thrilling enough for thrill seeks or boring enough for 50+ folks without teens in the mix. Looks like the tour was through mazatlan tours dot org. It was definately a local tour operator and unregulated but we chose that so my 14 year old could drive. We felt safe enough for my comfort level but my mom would have thrown a fit over the how unsafe it was (she still uses the non existant brake on her side of the car agressively when I drive). More in a bit. I am going to force myself to make 3 work calls.
  10. The other choice is actually doing my work. I wish I was better with photos but there are plenty of photos of the ship around, so I guess people are not missing much.
  11. Smoking: There are smoking areas on deck 11 aft (convenient to my room on 7) and 5 right by the theater. 11 is open deck and quite windy. 5 is protected open deck but it was pretty small. Lots of open pot smoking on 11 aft in the evenings/at night. That kind of annoyed me. It seemed like as the cruise went on they stationed a "waiter" up there which cut down on the pot smoking. Despite the fact that I am a smoker, I don't like to smell other's smoke. This ship was good for that. There was smoking someplace in the casino but it really didn't seep out and invade the ship. Of the three ships I have been on, I would say that if you hate smoke smell, this ship is a good choice. The traffic flow doesn't force you through the casino (I think we only walked through twice) and there is no reason for anyone else to use the smokers door to the area on 5 and deck 11 is in a very contained area. random other ship stuff: The coffee shop always had a long line (probably the cold thing again) and was staffed by two people at most. The Havana Bar (which is open to the public) was a wonderful getaway. It was empty and had semi private seating areas with couches and comfortable chairs all over it with tables including many with a scrabble set up. If you want peace and quiet. This is the place to go. The Library was called the "library bar" and it was always packed. Not sure what was going on in there. The sports bar was replaced by a military Heroes bar and it was good and crowded and showed real football games. They did a lot of the trivia at Ocean plaza which was on deck 5 mid aft. It was not a big enough area for this. They shopping areas were in the middle of the ship around the color changing funnel thing. It felt like there were an overabundance of jewelry stores and it was hard to find the "general store" one, which was more like a marriott hotel gift shop. We did Sea Day brunch twice. The food was good, but the service was not. It was not crowded either of the times we went. Alchemy was surprisingly not crowded. This was not an Alchemy set of cruisers though. The cruisers tended to be families with teen and older children. There were not a noticeable ton of little kids, but there were teens and young 20's people everywhere. I only witnessed two "maybe I should push them overboard as a favor to the world" groups of people. Which is not many for a ship this big. Guys Pig and Achor was a weird set up. I think they served food but it was dark and a bit creepy with a lifesized guy wax person at the entry and the bar was in the front, so it was hard to tell you could eat there. Seemed pretty empty to me most of the time. There were so many people on the ship that the photographers were not in your face super aggressive about getting your photo taken. There were not long lines for photos and the locations were spread throughout the chip rather than blocking the path to the dining room. That was nice. As were the digital photos that showed up on your hub app. Internet: I bought the premium package. It worked pretty well. I didn't try to do anything fancy with it, but I could surf the net at reasonable times and it generally held a connection. My emails came in one at time instead of in big groups where it was clear the lack of connection had held them back. The hub chat didn't seem to work very well for us, which we have never had trouble with before.
  12. Sky Zone: It is way smaller than it looks in the advertisements. Maybe 1000 square feet and half of that is rock walls. I could not really figure out how they grouped people but it was not like a normal sky zone where the whole family can show up and have time together. It seemed to be grouped by Toddlers, the rest of camp ocean, circle C and Club O2. There was no flipping or rotating and they were very serious about it and it was retty heavily supervised. Half of it was trampolines/dodgeball and the other half was rock climbing. My 6 foot 14.5 year old who has a gymnastics background and loves trampoline parks did it once. You have to physically go there and sign up for a slot and the slots fill up fast. My guess is each time slot has 20 spaces. It was $12 for an hour and you got socks. They line you up at the door and you all go in together. It looked to me like they also released them all together and maybe signed them out. My son enjoyed it, but once was enough. The kids in his age range were half his size and with a couple of exceptions seemed to be on the younger end of the age range. High school aged kids came out before his group and they were all telling him it was super lame and a waste of money. 80's Party. In case you have not gathered, we are not party people. We went to this with friends we made on the cruise. It was two girls and my son. At the very beginning, they put all the guys on one side and the girls on the other for some battle of the sexes type stuff. Because of this, my son was separated from his friends and me and we had to sit out. We stayed for about an hour and it was still pretty divided by guys and girls. Not the end of the world. Emma led it and the part we stayed for seemed really fun. Not just 80's music and drunk people dancing but lots of "contests" and challenges and group dances. So if you skip these things because you think it will be like high school dances but with drunk people, don't. It really is fun for all ages. The shows: We saw the rock one and the broadway one. We are huge theater people and super judgy about bad singing and dancing. My son plans to get a BFA is musical theater. Like Asian food, we are experts at judging singing and dancing. These two shows were amazing. Super high energy, not cheesy and something you would gladly pay for on land. The broadway one was good enough that I was tempted to go back for the late showing. There were two female singers that absolutely knocked my socks off and there were also couple of very good male singers. There were a couple of really hard dance sections. The "troupe" seemed to have separate dancers and singers (but everyone except one guy mouthed the words at least). The cast was probably double the size of previous shows we have seen. Pretty sure the Broadway one had canned music. The rock one was live music. The rock one drags a bit at the beginning and people were getting up and leaving. Don't do that! It gets way better and actually pretty amazing. Either show is good enough to appeal to non theater people. The theater (the name is escaping me right now), as reported, pretty much blows chunks for visibility. There are big poles everywhere and the bottom level isn't tiered. I really can't believe they left it this way on a third ship after all the complaints on the other two vista class ships. Someone said the best seats were the middle of the front rows of the balcony and they are correct. There are maybe 12 seats there. I am guessing those were the only people who could see the entire show. We never got those seats. But we were pretty happy with the seats we found the first night. Top row (I am guessing on either side) of the balcony at the cocktail tables 4th table in from the end. Tables 3, 2, and 1 from the end would have been my next choice. The only things we missed were a couple of things at the far backstage. Cooking Class: You guys, this was fabulous. It is a must do. We did the Asian one. There are stations set up like in a cooking show and an ipad on each station with the recipe and then a chef from the ship is up at the front of the room. All the ingredients are measured and chopped in little bowls and you make an app, a main and a dessert. Actually the chef made the dessert, but we watched. He walks around the stations and helps you with the cooking and stuff. He was super personable and you could tell he was having a ball teaching the class. There were a number of older kids. My son loved this class. it was a mixed group of folks age wise but the people in the group were most likely not the ones reaching their 15 limit on cheers. Then after you cook, you sit at one big table and eat what you made family style. I am not doing it justice in explaining it. It was one of those, you want to hug the staff and the other diners when it is over type of things. Heads up, you need close toed shoes and you have to sign that you have not been ill before the class. I said I wouldn't cruise carnival again but I could actually put together a cruise where all I did was these cooking classes and the two really good shows and be pretty happy. Except for the whole breathing thing. You sign up for the classes through the funshops before the cruise. My guess is they will take off like wildfire, so book now if you have a cruise on Panorama booked. More in a bit.
  13. We are from Phoenix by way of Vegas, so our definition of cold is probably different than yours. There was only one day when I was too hot in leggings and a long sleeve shirt. I am definitely a cold wimp though. That said, the Havana pool had 5 people in it at one time but mostly it was just one lady (the same one). There was one day when I really wanted to go in when we were in Mexico, because it is a beautiful infinity pool off the back of the ship, I tried for a good hour to get the guts up to go in. I used the Havana hot tubs a few times and even drying off and in a robe I had to run back to the room and get under the covers after. I was generally not warm enough outside in a sweater and leggings. There were kids in the pools the other sea days but I didn't see adults hanging out there. Mexico was much warmer and I think you could have laid out and gotten a tan if you wanted. The day down to Mexico was good enough for an average person to hang out outside but not swim. Mexico, a lot of people stayed on the ship and it was I would guess mid 70's with low humidity. The two sea days back from Mexico were cold. The captain booked it back from PV, so its not like we got a relaxing warm sea day. It was already cold by the 8 at night and just got colder. The last sea day was cold enough that everyone was inside. I didn't see a lot of people in shorts and swimsuits on the sea days inside or out. A large percentage of people seemed to stay in their Christmas jammies all day. However, to be fair, it was unusually cold in southern cal last week. I don't think it is normally that cold.
  14. OK. Next Topic SHIPBOARD ACTIVITIES This is where my lameness really shines. Here is what we did on board this big beautiful ship. Karaoke once. 2 Shows. 80's Party. Skyzone. Cooking class. Piano bar. Smoking. Yes, you read that right. We didn't even go on the deck with the fun outdoor stuff. We tried twice and it was just too cold and windy for us to even walk 10 feet. The Skyride seemed to be running everyday as far as I could tell from my smoking spot. It looked considerably less thrilling than I expected. It seems like I heard multiple times that only one slide was working. We did not do comedy (which we usually love) because the PG times were 6:15 and 7:15 and we were always eating during that time. You might recall my precruise concerns about getting my 14.5 year old moved up in kids club. Didn't matter. He wouldn't go near it. Nor would a lot of kids in the teen clubs. So what we did. Karaoke once in the Liquid lounge. The room was really too big for this type of activity to be fun. People were not sitting close enough to one another to really mingle. The DJ was open about the fact that he would only take a certain amount of people more than he thought he could get to in the time slot. If you were not there at the beginning, you couldn't pick a song or even look at a book. That really killed the vibe. People didn't stay if there was no chance they would get to sing and people left after they sang because there was no point in staying. No one was super good or super bad. The bar service was very slow. Also, the audience couldn't see the words to the songs, which I think makes people sing along. I am going to give this one a big thumbs down. Piano Bar: I think piano bars are fabulously fun and engaging. Why can't Carnival figure this out? This type of activity/venue should be right in their wheelhouse, yet I have never been on a cruise with a great one or even a good one. We walked in twice. It was awkward. Both times everyone turned and stared at us and it was dead silent. The piano guy was just sitting looking at the piano. I kind of regret not forcing myself to sit there for an hour and see what happened because maybe my timing was just off. But weird. The venue is spacious with lots of open space. Again, maybe not conducive to everyone getting drunk and joining hands in song because it was so open. I hope someone else chimes in with their experience because I am really hoping it was not as bad as it seemed. Be back in a bit to continue.
  15. We were in Havana Aft Balcony 7465. The divider to 7467 did not open, FYI. Also, there is a housekeeping prep room (or rooms) right across from it. Neither thing bothered us, but you could hear hallway noise pretty clearly. (could not hear room to room or other balcony noise) The deck plan on cruise deck plans dot com doesn't really show the area accurately. The two most aft interiors that are Havana cabins are not at the end of that hall. There is crew space after them. There is are doors that close off the Havana area at each end but I only saw them closed once and even then they didn't seem to mean anything or have any signage on them. The room was a typical aft balcony. Two robes in the closet with Elemis body wash and conditioning shampoo. There were three or 4 little glass shelves on either side of the mirror in the bathroom. There was no under cabinet storage available. It was filled with extra tissues and toilet paper. No issues with the bathroom. Same as any other balcony cabin. The room itself was done in corals and teals with cuban themed art. Each room has its own HVAC. You can choose "warmer" or "cooler" with little arrows but that is it. It seemed to work just fine for us. Because of the individual HVAC you lose a closet compared to the balcony rooms on other ships. I felt like the remaining closets were smaller also (but I could be wrong about that because my last cabin was an Ocean Suite). There were three closets. One had 3 drawers and the safe and 3 or 4 shelves. One had a high and low hanging rack, no shelves. The third had a high hanging rack and no shelves. The width of each was about the size of 1 and half of my size 8 bare feet. Attached to that was a desk with I am pretty sure only a single drawer (like the one you but pencils in). Half of that drawer was taken up by the hair dryer, which was predictably weak. I gave up drying my hair after 2 hours of it not being dry (but I have a lot of hair). Up the side of the last closet that abutted the desk were 3 or 4 small shelves. The only other storage was two nightstands with a top drawer and open space under it. They were very small. My kindle filled the length and width of drawer. The storage was fine for us but it was noticeably less than on a regular balcony on Liberty. Quite frankly, I think it would be too tight storage wise for 4 people on a 7 days cruise. There was also a couch and a coffee table. We didn't use the couch because we put all the excess pillows there. There were a lot of throw pillows. Each bed had 2 and I am thinking the couch had 4 to 6? So here is why I took the elevator all the time. I seem to be allergic to something on carnival ships. I am guessing its what they use to purify the air. I was perfectly healthy getting on board. I was over the top careful with hand washing and sanitizing. Mostly because on our partial canal cruise with effectively 6 sea days, I got horribly sick with respiratory gunk. Like serious problems taking in air and coughing continuously (like for hours at time) with a squeaky wheeze at the end of any breath that didn't have a cough in it. After the first night I woke up on this cruise with the same dang thing. Only time I have ever had this in my life is on a cruise ship. I bought dayquil at the ship store and stayed on top of it, but still coughed like it was going out of style. Within a half hour of being off the ship at a port, I was fine without exception. At the end of the cruise there are two sea days. The last night I finally had to sleep on the balcony because I could not stop coughing. That was actually beyond awesome and I highly reccomend it even if you are not sick! Pretty sure the chaise was wider than my twin bed! The balcony had a chaise lounger and low chair lounger and I believe another chair and footstool and little table. Still plenty of room out there with all that. You could see onto most of the balcony below. I chose deck 7 over 6 because I did not want to be bothered by the noise from the Havana area. I do not think that would have mattered. The balcony definitely got a good amount of soot. Its not like it covered it but there were chunks you could visibly see everywhere. That also didn't bother me. A couple more things. If you were worried about getting a cabana because people would be walking by, I don't think that is really a concern anymore since the Havana area is not open to non Havana guests at any time. There is a door on the public deck blocking access to patio walkways. Also, I was worried about vibration from the motors or whatever it is that is back there but I never felt it. I really loved the Havana area. It got fairly light use even on a completely full ship. In fact, my only complaint was the pool monitor guy felt a bit creepy just staring at the two people in the pool. They probably could have dispensed with that position. The hot tubs never had more than 4 people in each of them at a time. This was not a group of crazy drunk partiers out there (even though I saw one group from an excursion who were partiers they were not partying in Havana). It was an area generally used to relax. It was by no means empty but not super busy. It was hard to get the clam shells in there (remember, it was cold) but there were plenty of loungers. I would say the vibe and business was similar to an upscale hawaiian resort pool. Our room "crackled" a good bit. Almost sounded like settling. It didn't bother us. One of my favorite parts was that the beds faced the direction of the rocking, so it was like being in a rocking chair rather than being rocked side to side and feeling like you had to hold on in rough seas. Which was extra nice on the ride back from Mexico because the ship was rocking quite a bit. Supposedly we were going 20 knots and it was 4 foot seas. It was more of a smoother rock than other ships I had been on. The effect of the stabilizers was noticeable. Our room steward was extra nice as were his helpers. Not that they did anything over the top special other than remember our names but they asked what we had been doing and actually engaged and shared stories. Honestly (other than the main dining room staff) all the crew were like this. The Captain is a character and talked publically a lot more than other cruises I had been on. Plus you would see him around the ship. The bar tenders were nice to everyone and told stories and engaged you with talk of normal stuff. Even the buffet staff was extra friendly and helpful. I specifically noticed that lots of them touched people. Not is a creepy way! But like put their hand on your shoulder or took your arm or your hand briefly. I am not used to seeing that in the hospitality industry or on other cruises. This is the biggest ship I have been on and the crew felt more like family than any other cruise. You would see crew members who were not working talking with the bar tenders or waitstaff and joining in on cruiser conversations pretty regularly. More tomorrow. I am supposed to be doing laundry and I guess I probably have to work tomorrow since it is a work day and all.
  16. We had two different groups of friends who had the spa pass. They both reported the area was nice and both reported it was hard to get one of those heated beds at times. One of the couples felt like the spa passes were over sold. But it was also FREEZING to us SoCal and other desert dwellers!!! Not a lot of people hanging out outside willingly on a few of the days. That might have increased use of those heated beds.
  17. The rest of my food experience: I had cheers. Probably should have skipped that. One of the bar tenders made fun of the fact that I drank less than the people who were under 21. Honestly, still worth it to me to not have to worry about cost or finishing. I brought my own disposable plastic straws. I am really picky about stuff like that. I am a die hard diet dr. pepper drinker. I would have cancelled the cruise when I heard it would be all pepsi. I HATE pepsi products. Oddly, I survived the diet pepsi. I'm not sure if the meds I was taking made it taste different or what, but after a couple of days it didn't bug me. FWIW the sodas, even at the bars, came from cans. They would give you the can and open it if you asked. They were not supposed to give them to you unopened. I drank frozen drinks using the sugar straws. Never made it through a full drink without the straw giving up the ghost but I actually really liked them in frozen drinks. We are foodies. We probably eat out once I day. I can't cook to save my life. Just an FYI, all specialty restaurants were booked well before the cruise according to the website. The first night we had teppanyaki booked. There were literally 2 tables that sat 10 people each. The chefs were amazing and the food was fabulous. Probably the best teppenyaki I ever had. I highly recommend it. The next night was the first formal night. We like sitting at a big table and joining in on the conversations with our table mates and hearing and hearing about their days. It is one of our favorite parts of cruising. We had early dining. Our table was a table for 4. Never knew that could happen. Not gonna lie, it was a bit awkward. The ladies we were seated with were perfectly nice, but when there are 4 people, you HAVE to talk to each other. One slow dinner of that was more than enough for us. We could have asked to be moved but we didn't because the food was so bad. Like near inedible. My prime rib was freezing. I don't mean it had cooled off. I mean it had been refrigerated. The service was deplorable. Slow and rude. Definitely not up to Carnival standards. I know others had a better experience in the dining rooms and maybe we were just extra lucky on our past two cruises, but it wasn't worth going back. Our timing got off and we actually missed a couple of dinners (and managed not to eat all day) and did pizza a few times. Still a solid choice. There was a worse line there than the deli and they were not super happy if you didn't take an already made pizza but it was so crowded, I can't complain. Rather than make one pizza at a time when someone ordered, they just continuously made what they thought people wanted. So the more unusual pizza's could take a long time to get. 20 minutes was not uncommon. But if you wanted pepperoni or margarita the wait was probably less than other ships. My son had New England Clam Chowder in a breadbowl from the Seafood Shack 4 times. According to him, it was better than Disneyland, which he considers the gold standard! That was 5 bucks. Prices for other things looked fair. The only one I specifically remember was lobster was $18/lb. That is probably about 1/2 the going rate in Phoenix! My favorite was JiJis for dinner. (It is different at lunch). It is a $15 charge and it was phenomenal. We normally eat 5-7 meals a week of Asian food. My siblings are Vietnamese and we lived in Chinatown in Vegas. I say this to prove that I know what I am talking about. This was the best Asian food I have ever had. You know how a lot of times Asian food from one restaurant tastes pretty much the same no matter what you order? Each thing here had its own flavor! They remembered us the second time and the chef came out and introduced himself both times and chatted about the food. Here is the thing, we had no reservations for it before we got on board. Despite supposedly being sold out, we got in two nights with no problem. And it was never full. Don't miss it if you like Asian food. We also ate at the sushi place one night. It is ala carte pricing but very fair. It was fine. The service was fine. Not something I needed to do more than once. The rolls were boring and pretty bland. Service was too slow for the amount of people in there. Still if you have had sushi on other carnival ships, this was much better. Also it was a somewhat fancy sit down restaurant, not just a little quick service place like ti was on Miracle and Liberty. Will report on our cabin as soon as I put in a load of cruise laundry!
  18. You must have missed the part where I took the elevators every time! Did not set foot near either. I heard positive comments about the spa service. A number of people commented that the upsell issue was not as noticeable as previous cruises. Probably because there were enough people on board to keep them busy.
  19. FOOD AND OTHER BASICS After we got on the ship we went to the buffet. We tried to find JiJi's or Guys and couldn't find them. There were tons of carnival employees all over the ship directing everyone but it was clear that that this was not their normal job. Many only the same map I did and no information. I think maybe the intent was for them to explain the elevators to people but they clearly did not pull that off. On the topic of elevators, the ship has the new ones where you call your car. People seemed to get that concept but absolutely could not understand they needed to push the floor for the number of people in their party. It was not generally a problem except for busy elevator times and then it was pretty much hopeless. I used almost exclusively elevators and only had more than a 3 minute wait a handful for times (see my reason for elevator use below). Once we got in and a bit acclimated, the ship was lovely. Muted colors, light wood accents, it really spread people out nicely. Even Lido did not feel crowded. The only area that got noticeably too crowded was ocean plaza, which is not in the middle of the ship or near a dining room. They served a nice mini breakfast buffet there every morning. It had eggs, potatoes, hash browns, bacon, ham, a couple of lunch meets and pastries. The crowd never did seem to figure it out and it was generally empty and a great place for breakfast. So our first stop was the buffet. We thought it was really good. On embarkation day. The set up is great with multiple spread out stations that have the same thing. There was also a ton of seating. We never had trouble finding a table for 2 without joining a bigger table. Although, for larger groups, I could see this being a problem. The dining set up is more geared toward groups of 4, even in the dining room. We got off on our timing and had to eat 2 other times for dinner in the buffet. Both of those times the food choice was really bad and the food verged on gross. With the smaller stations all serving the same thing, there were maybe 8 choices of food max. That may sound like a lot but I mean total including appetizers, bread and vegetables. The salad bar in the buffet was fresh and clean but really lacking. A big bowl of iceberg lettuce, a prepared ceasar salad and maybe 3 vegetable topping choices and two other salad type choices like potato and coleslaw. And the butter patties in ice water in a bowl for all to dig through. Hard no on that one. Mostly because the butter was both wet and frozen solid. Not a chance of being able to spread it. The buffet seemed clean and moved well and table were bussed efficiently but that might have been because there was really no reason to eat there. It really lacked the nod to gluttony and overeating I expect from a buffet. I am out of time again. Will have to come back and do the rest of my food thoughts. I promise, I actually really enjoyed the cruise. This sounds like a bunch of negative things but its mostly that I was surprised by them not that they were necessarily bad.
  20. And twice apparently. ABOUT US Me (47) and my 14.5 year old son. We are from Phoenix via Las Vegas. Our definition of cold may differ from yours. We are quiet people and certainly not joiners or partiers. This is our third carnival cruise. Spoiler alert: it will be our last Carnival Cruise unless there is some stellar deal. First, I am a diet dr. Pepper addict. Being stuck in a sea of Pepsi is not a vacation to me. Second, we realize we like the meals and shows and ports. My kid is never going to a kid’s club or making cruise friends that are kids. All the other activities are not for us. So there is really no good reason to keep choosing carnival for us. Certainly not knocking Carnival. Just not our product. ARRIVAL AND BOARDING We lived on the edge and flew in the morning of the cruise to LAX. Despite all the hype about how bad LAX is and the fact that they kicked Uber and Lyft off site, flying in on Southwest was super easy. The short southwest flights come in and leave from a tiny corner of the airport right next to the Uber area. We are talking small town feel like the Omaha Nebraska airport. You just follow the signs to the Uber area and there are people there who tell you how to do it. Couldn’t be easier. We arrived at 9. Our Uber driver did not speak or read English. That made getting to port a long process that involved a Good number of police type people yelling at us and missing all signs with directions in word form including exits. Once he dropped us off it was a madhouse! Past cruises there was a porter right there to aggressively grab the bags. Not so here. Everyone was wandering with their bags and there were like 5 porters who claimed they were only delivering luggage and couldn’t take it. We were not in the wrong place. Just a place massively not prepared for a big ship disembarking and embarking on same day. Pro trip: look for Alex. He is the guy in charge of the area where they hold the bags. If you walk your bags all the way over there and give them to him and give him a tip, there is a decent chance he will allow your bags on board. it was about 1030 at this point. We walked to the area outside the dome and I took a smoke break and then we decided we might as well enter the early line. It seriously took less than 5 minutes from entering the line to checking in. They started boarding about 1130 and we were on board by noon. This isn’t because of a delay. It’s because the walk up hill is approximately 6 miles of uphill ramps. You couldn’t pay me to carry on my own luggage. Entry onto the ship is totally yuck. No wow moment. You walk down empty outdoor halls next to the lifeboats with no idea where you are going because you don’t know what floor you got on the ship at (pretty sure now that it was deck 4) One last pro tip before I catch my flight back home. YOU CANNOT SMOKE UNTIL AFTER THE SHIP IS UNDERWAY AT LIKE 515. Be prepared for that. I had to get off the ship after entering. No way was I going more than 6 hours without a cigarette especially since that 6 hours involved a muster drill! The Long Beach terminal people are seriously kind and noticeably nice. Not at all threatening. Way nicer than Orlando or Tampa. Like I wanted to hug them amount of nice. Very unexpected and pleasant surprise!
  21. Typing on my phone as I sit in LAX so there will be a million typos in this. Maybe photos if I can figure it out. Let me try now. This is what the ship looks like sideways. You are welcome. Guess I will skip the photos.
  22. OMG! She made you come back and ask that didn't she!? I have stayed in an Ocean Suite on Miracle on an 8 day and there was enough space for 3 people's things with no problem. The closet in that room was definitely smaller. They also have laundry service (free for suite guests if I recall). If she packs 14 3 piece outfits and entire suitcase of shoes, there will be room. I feel pretty positive that the smaller OS closet would have fit 28 outfits and 28 pairs of shoes. I can also almost promise you that she will have leftover clothes she did not wear if she packs 10 outfits. Also, its not like at home where there are all sorts of other things in the closets that you store there. Its just going to be clothes in there. Suitcases go under the beds. Remind her to pack at least 2 swimsuits and cover ups. And at least one sweater to throw on over her outfits for the evening and in the show rooms. Also, she really should leave room in her bags for the things she purchases along the way. P.S. Sorry. Not trying to be mean. I am currently emptying out my son's suitcase that he packed for our 7 day cruise with 8 thick hoodies and 8 pairs of kacki pants among everything else.
  23. Thank you so much for the detailed update!! We sail on her on the 21st and your info was super helpful! PLease fix the Mexican weather while you are in the area. I need about 10 degrees warmer.
  24. It might be worth also checking other cruise lines. The partial on carnival you can't get off at the canal. I didn't think twice about it at the time, but when we were there, I was dying to get off and learn about the canal and see the area. And on Miracle, that front area was crew and their guests. Our cruise had someone's family on it as passengers and I saw them down there. Not sure if Pride is the same but on the deck with Red Frog Pub, there was an area right outside it with porthole windows. It was pretty dang cool to watch the locks from there in one direction (and way cooler physically).
  • Create New...