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Nevada Jen

Dec 21 to 28 2019 panorama review

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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. 

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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!

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I'm sure the crazyness was because you arrived so early.  Everyone was still getting off.  An hour later and it probably wouldn't have been so crazy.  I have heard the wow factor on entry was not there being how they have to board on deck 4, but that's OK by me as I know I will have plenty of WOW moments to come.

 

I too am a smoker tpp, and in doing my precruise research here already new from their 3 day inaugrual sailing that there is no smoking for a long time.  So I am prepared with my e-cig!  🙂

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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.

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Looking forward to more of your review.  Doesn't need to be all positive...constructive criticism is helpful.  I just took your comments as possibly having a bit of sarcastic wit, which I enjoy.😁

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1 hour ago, jean87510 said:

Following. Ty. We are on for may 2, 2020 in spa cabin. Do you have any input re spa area and/or gym?

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.  

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Lol. Its why cruises are full of all sorts of people! Im just hoping to get some feedback regarding thermal suite area. Im actually disappointed about the sky park but understand this type of entertainment is geared for families and not for (2) 50 plus who snorkel and hike. I would have liked the IMAX better. 

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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!

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27 minutes ago, jean87510 said:

Lol. Its why cruises are full of all sorts of people! Im just hoping to get some feedback regarding thermal suite area. Im actually disappointed about the sky park but understand this type of entertainment is geared for families and not for (2) 50 plus who snorkel and hike. I would have liked the IMAX better. 

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.

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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.

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2 hours ago, Nevada Jen said:

But it was also FREEZING to us SoCal and other desert dwellers!!!

*shivers in Northeast*

Haha, just kidding. I would love to visit SoCal for their weather right now!

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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.

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10 minutes ago, Nevada Jen said:

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.

I am just curious, because you’ve mentioned it a few times. How cold was it? I thought you sailed out of California? Just curious, for any future cruise out of there. We tend to cruise to escape the cold of winter, and I would have thought the LA area would have been warm. But then again, anything over 50 is warm for us at this time of year, hailing from Buffalo, NY. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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