February 2022 Carnival Panorama
Mexican Riviera Cruise

Our return to cruising with Carnival
two years after the start of the pandemic

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Some cruise ships are so good that they're worth sailing on more than once.  Carnival Panorama is one of those ships.  In fact, I happen to think that it's one of the best cruise ships in the world.

Carnival Panorama cruise ship in Cabo San Lucas

So, two years after we first sailed on her, we went back for more!  Our first cruise on Carnival Panorama was quite memorable because it was the last one we did before the whole cruise industry got turned upside down at the start of the global pandemic.  In fact, shortly after getting home from that 2020 cruise on Carnival Panorama, both Kellyn got very ill.  Our doctor diagnosed it as "the flu"...  but I think we may have had one of the early cases of Covid-19.  I don't think tests to identify Covid even existed at that point, so I'm not sure he would have recognized Covid even if faced with it.

In spite of coming home sick, I had really enjoyed that 2020 cruise on Carnival Panorama.  You can read all about it here.   In the two years since, I had dreamed many times about having Guy Fieri food again, and relaxing in the un-crowded Havana pool area.  Finally, in February of 2022, we had our chance to get back to all that.

Carnival Panorama atrium vortex
The Vortex in the atrium of Carnival Panorama

 

Carnival Panorama docked in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Carnival Panorama docked in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

 

One of the highlights of our 2022 cruise was a whale watching excursion we took in Cabo San Lucas.  We've been whale watching many times before, but this trip beat them all.  Here's a video I made about the excursion:


To start the video playing, click the triangle in the middle of the video screen
To make the video fill the screen (recommended) click the little symbol in the lower right corner of the video player

 

As I mentioned in that video about the excursion on the private yacht, there was a photographer onboard.  Normally, I don't show up in very many vacation photographs because I'm usually the guy behind the camera.  But with a photographer onboard, there were a few photos with me in them this time.

Jim Zimmerlin and Kellyn Zimmerlin on vacation, February 2022

 

Our friends Jamie and Brenda on a private yacht
Our friends, Jamie & Brenda, were the ones that rented the yacht and invited us to come along with them

 

On the private yacht, after we finished whale watching, I was able to launch my drone and get some great aerial photos and videos of Carnival Panorama.  So, when you see aerial shots of the ship here on this page, or in my YouTube videos, now you know how I was able to get them.  I bet some people assume that these are stock photos supplied by Carnival...  but no, I shot them myself with my DJI Mini 2 drone.

Aerial photo of Carnival Panorama at anchor in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Aerial view of Carnival Panorama anchored in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

 

This next video is the full story of our cruise.  It takes you along with us through the entire cruise, showing you what we did each day, as well as highlighting some of the good things we ate!

 

Carnival's Vista-class ships (like Carnival Panorama) are our favorite cruise ships because they have a special area aboard the ship known as the Havana area.  This area at the back of the ship has a swimming pool, two hot tubs, a sun deck, and a bar...  and this area is always un-crowded because only the people staying in the nearby cabins are given access to this area.  So, it's kind of like a V.I.P. area of the ship that most passengers don't have access to.  It's so luxurious to have this little oasis at the back of the ship that is only for the use of a small number of passengers.  On a very busy cruise ship with thousands of passengers aboard, it's such a treat to have this quiet, un-crowded area to relax in.

Aerial photo of Carnival Panorama Havana pool area

In the photo, you can see some cabins overlooking the Havana pool area that have traditional balconies.  However, my favorite type of cabin in the Havana area is different.  It's called a Havana Cabana, and instead of a traditional balcony, the cabin has a patio...  including a swing.

Havana Cabana patio on Carnival Panorama
Kellyn absolutely loves the swing on the patio of a Havana Cabana!

Just beyond the patio of a Havana Cabana is a walkway that leads down to the Havana pool area.  So, by walking out on to your patio and opening the gate, you are just steps away from the pool and hot tubs, as well as the Havana bar.  This is super convenient, and makes it so easy to get from your cabin to the pool, hot tubs, and bar.

Carnival Panorama Havana area walkway

This is the view looking out from our patio towards the ocean...
Havana Cabana patio on Carnival Panorama

If you're used to a traditional cruise ship balcony overlooking the water, the very first time you stay in a Havana Cabana it may seem a little odd to have people walking right past your patio.  But it's only a small number of people because it's only the few other people staying in Havana Cabanas...  and that loss of privacy is more than made up for by the convenience of being able to quickly get to the Havana pool area.  Our cabin, #5237, was especially great because there was only one other cabin between us and the pool area.  In other words, it was a walk of only a few feet from our patio to the Havana pool area since we were just one cabin away.

To see the inside of our Havana Cabana, have a look at this cabin tour video I made...

 

Part of the fun of being on a cruise is enjoying an occasional cocktail.  But the reality on some cruise ships is that it can be difficult to get a cocktail at times, because the bars are often quite crowded.  This is why it's so great that the Havana area has its own outdoor bar, and that this bar is solely for the use of guests staying in a Havana cabin.  Since most passengers do not have access to the Havana pool area, the outdoor bar next to the Havana pool is never crowded.  It makes enjoying a cocktail so much more enjoyable than it can be on many crowded cruise ships.

Kellyn with a cocktail in the Havana sun deck

 

Part of what made this cruise especially fun for us was that our friends, Bob & Joan, were cruising along with us.

Bob Kaplan and Joan Dillon

We met Bob and Joan last year during our cruise with American Cruise Lines on the Columbia River.  We totally hit it off on that cruise and wanted to cruise together again.  So, this was our chance to do a Mexican Riviera cruise together.  At our suggestion, Bob and Joan also stayed in a Havana Cabana, so that they would have access to the Havana area during the cruise.  It was a lot of fun for us to spend hours and hours out by the pool together.


Food

One of the things that keeps me cruising with Carnival is the Guy Fieri food.  I can't get anything like that at the restaurants back in my home town.  I'm not just talking about the burgers at Guy's Burger Joint, but also the food at Guy's Pig & Anchor Restaurant.  It's my favorite restaurant onboard a Carnival ship.

Face mask - Only Removed For Guy Fieri Food

 

The Ringer burger by Guy Fieri on Carnival Cruise Line

My favorite burger at Guy's Burger Joint is "The Ringer".  You can't see it in this particular photo, but "The Ringer" has a little bit of barbecue sauce on it, and is topped with an onion ring.  The fries are also incredibly good.  Did you know that the secret ingredient to the seasoned salt on the fries is a little bit of cayenne pepper?

Guy Fieri brisket at the Pig & Anchor restaurant
This is the barbecued brisket from Guy's Pig & Anchor restaurant

 

Omelette potatoes bacon croissant from Carnival buffet

This is my standard breakfast when on a cruise ship.  An omelet with a side of breakfast potatoes, some crispy bacon, a croissant, and some orange juice.  I used to always bring a small jar of Lawry's seasoned salt with me on a cruise so that I could season the omelet and the potatoes.  These days, I bring some to-go packets of seasoned salt from Red Robin restaurant.  At home, we have lunch at Red Robin about once a week, so it's easy for us to get packets of their seasoned salt...  at they weigh less and take up less space in a suitcase than a jar of Lawry's seasoned salt.

 


Internet Access

The quality of Internet access during our 2022 cruise was particularly bad...  among the worst connections to the Internet that I've had on a cruise ship in the last 10 years or so.  It wasn't nearly as good as it had been during our cruise two years earlier on the exact same ship.  During our cruise two years ago, I was able to get download speeds averaging about 25 Mbps, although upload speeds were less than 1 Mbps and latency was high at over 600 ms.  But this time, the download speeds were much slower...  which was odd considering that the ship was sailing with a reduced passenger count.  With less people using the Internet this time, the quality of Internet access should have been better...  but it was much, much worse.  I can only conclude that either there was some technical problem with the equipment that was used to get deliver Internet access to the ship, or that Carnival had done something to save money, at the expense of Internet access quality.

If having top-quality Internet access is important to you when you're on a cruise, the leaders in this area are currently Royal Caribbean and Princess.

I'm sure that someday, perhaps when Elon Musk's network of satellites is fully operational, we'll shake our head and laugh at the Internet speeds on cruise ships back in 2022.


Need A Travel Agent?

Booking a cruise can be confusing, especially if you haven't been on many cruises before.  There are lots of first-time cruiser mistakes that a travel agent can keep you from making.

If you're interested in booking a cruise with any cruise line...  please feel free to use the services of my travel agent, Caitlin Gallagher.  She's extremely pleasant to deal with, easy to talk to since she lives in the United States and speaks without any kind of an accent, and quite experienced and knowledgeable about different types of cruising.  Caitlin is the owner of Ambren Travel.  Visit her web site, check out the Ambren Travel Facebook page, or contact her using the information below.

Caitlin Gallagher business card Ambren Travel


The Cruise Ships We've Been On

If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading my web pages about:

A Cruise Up The Mississippi River on American Melody
American Harmony... our first river cruise!
A cruise to Iceland... our first cruise after the pandemic
Our first time on Carnival Panorama, January 2020
December 2019 cruise in The Haven on Norwegian Joy
May 2019 Carnival Horizon cruise
April 2019 Norwegian Breakaway cruise
January 2019 Caribbean cruise on the Viking Sea
December 2018 country music cruise on the Norwegian Getaway
May 2018 Panama Canal cruise on the Norwegian Bliss
January 2018 cruise on MSC Seaside in a suite with a private Jacuzzi
September 2017 Carnival Vista cruise in a Havana Suite
October 2017 Norwegian Sky cruise in the owner's suite
The $1600 per night owners suite:  January 2017 Norwegian Pearl
An Un-crowded Small Ship Experience:  Viking Star
One Of The Best Waterslides At Sea:  Liberty Of The Seas
Quite Possibly The Best Cruise Ship In The World:  Anthem Of The Seas
January 2017 Allure Of The Seas
One of the best cruise ships we've ever experienced: The Norwegian Escape
2015 Carnival Breeze back-to-back cruises
Back-to-back cruises on Independence Of The Seas
World's largest cruise ship: Allure Of The Seas
2015 Carnival Freedom repositioning cruise
Our first VIP cruise in The Haven: The Norwegian Getaway
Our June 2014 Alaska cruisetour with Princess
Our first cruise with Princess!  January 2014 Sapphire Princess
2014 back-to-back eastern/western Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Glory
The completely refurbished Carnival Sunshine
One of Carnival's best ships, the Carnival Breeze
A sister ship to the Breeze, the Carnival Magic
Our 2013 cruise on the Carnival Conquest
One of the oldest ships in the fleet, the Carnival Inspiration
Our first Caribbean cruise:  the Carnival Glory
Our many cruises on the Carnival Spirit
Our February 2010 cruise on the Carnival Splendor
Our January 2008 cruise on the Carnival Elation
Our April 2008 cruise on the Norwegian Star
Our first cruise!  1996 on Carnival Cruise Line's MS Holiday

Click here to see the complete chronology of all the cruises we've ever taken.


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