Carnival Panorama Trip Review: Puerto Vallarta

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Carnival Panorama Puerto Vallarta
Carnival Panorama Puerto Vallarta

Carnival Panorama Trip Review: Day 3, Staying on the Ship in Puerto Vallarta

Our Location

Our plan today, (and for all ports) on this Carnival Panorama cruise was to stay on the ship. We wanted to take advantage of the quiet time onboard, and we didn’t see any bubble tours that looked exciting. Bubble tours are shore excursions for unvaccinated guests, usually families with children on Carnival Cruise Line.

The ship pulled into sunny, humid Puerto Vallarta just after 9am this morning. On the overhead PA system, guests were reminded of the usual rules and regulations. Don’t crowd the gangways, don’t take food ashore, etc… but something struck me with this set of announcements. The officer made it very clear that guests should not to take any CBD products ashore. This was the first time I’d heard CBD products mentioned on the “forbidden” list on a cruise ship, and it made me wonder if there were drug sniffing dogs on the pier that had “found” CBD while sniffing for other substances on prior cruises.

While the boys slept in, I found a quiet table up at Serenity to do some work, then grabbed Huevos Rancheros at The Blue Iguana Cantina for myself, and breakfast burritos to go for the boys.

Carnival Panorama The Blue Iguana Cantina Huevos Rancheros
Carnival Panorama The Blue Iguana Cantina Huevos Rancheros

After breakfast, I headed to the thermal suite on Deck 12, while the boys headed out on a photo and video safari, finding areas of the ship they’d missed over the past few days. I was excited to head to the thermal suite, to take advantage of the included perk, as part of our spa cabin amenities.

To check in to the thermal suite, the spa front desk staff holds your room card, in exchange for a keycard for entry into the thermal suite. Lockers are available, but I didn’t take advantage of one, since my stateroom was just one deck away on Deck 14. In addition to thermal suite access, guests in spa cabins also have access to free yoga or pilates classes, a body scrub, 20-40% discounts on spa services, Elemis amenities in the shower (shower gel & shampoo/conditioner), and robes and slippers in the stateroom.

In addition to the aforementioned amenities, we enjoy the convenient location and spa cabin offers. Perched high on the ship, on decks 12 & 14, the spa staterooms are just steps from the spa, but also RIGHT next to the WaterWorks area, and three short flights of stairs to the main pool deck and Lido dining options on Deck 10.

I spent about an hour in the thermal suite, lounging in the steamy-hot hammam steam areas, soaking in the thalassotherapy pool, and trying out the dry sauna. As I left the spa, the friendly front desk team let me know about a port day special – $199.00 for a 75 minute facial and massage. As tempting as it sounded, I spent my spa budget on Ionithermie earlier in the cruise, and just didn’t feel like spending the money.

Carnival Panorama Thermal Suite Sheri
Carnival Panorama Sheri In The Thermal Suite

After some much needed R&R, I met up with the boys on their ship tour, and we checked out Carnival Kitchen, the ship’s unique cooking-school style venue, where various cooking classes are offered throughout the week. Classes include: pasta making, pie baking, cupcake creations, tailgate food, and even a meat smoking class. Schedules can be found in the Carnival Hub app, or on signage near the venue.

The friendly staff let us know that this room is also doubling as the venue for the Chef’s Table, a VIP multi course dinner and wine pairing offered for $95.00 per person on Carnival Panorama. The dinner is hosted by the Executive Master Chef, and is typically offered in the galley. The temporary relocation to Carnival Kitchen is due to the pandemic, according to the staff.

After some more ship exploration, we headed back to our room to change into sporty clothes in hopes of heading so SkyZone for a private trampoline session which we paid $120.00 for. We’d booked a private session because it was the only for our entire family to use the facility together, as adults, kids and teens are separated by age. Unfortunately, 20 minutes before our session, the SkyZone team called to let us know we weren’t permitted in the venue due to the fact that our son is unvaccinated.

Carnival Panorama Sky Zone
Carnival Panorama Sky Zone

Junior was disappointed, but handled it well, and we quickly shifted gears for a quick arcade session before stopping into the main dining room four our 6pm dining time. We’ll talk more about dinner in a moment, but first, some ideas if you plan to get off the ship in gorgeous Puerto Vallarta.

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

This was our first time staying onboard during a port stop in Mexico, and maybe our first time staying onboard EVER on a port day. I used to consider myself more of a port day person, but our nearly two year break from cruising has changed my tune.

There’s so much to do in Puerto Vallarta, and it’s our favorite port on Mexican Riviera cruises. We love the lush, tropical landscape, the authentic cuisine, and the variety of activities available. If you’re looking for some ideas of things to do in Puerto Vallarta, we have a few to get you started:

Ziplining is a terrific choice for thrill seekers. Several years back, we booked with Los Veranos and had the time of our lives. Wear cool, cotton clothing because you will hike a bit, and it’s HOT. Check out our vlog for a look at this awesome adventure.

Las Caletas is a popular excursion for cruise travelers and visitors to Puerto Vallarta alike. Cruise travelers must book this one through the ship, and book early because it sells out, especially during peak holiday seasons. There’s so much to do at Las Caletas – from a speedy zip line that ends in the ocean (literally!), to a seaside buffet lunch, you’ll have a hard time hitting every activity here. This vlog reveals how we chose to spend our day there. Fun fact: Las Caletas is not an island, but because of the isolated location, people often refer to it as one.

For more ideas of how to spend your day in lush Puerto Vallarta, check out this list of Puerto Vallarta’s best excursions & day pass choices.

Foodie Fun

When our plans to visit the SkyZone fell through, we decided to head to the main dining room. I’m so glad we did. With guests still ashore in PV, it was super quiet. This allowed for a little extra time chatting with our waitstaff and truly enjoying our meal.

Not sure if I’d like the salmon cake entree, I ordered the Indian Vegetarian meal as well. Not only was it served on two plates, I hardly touched my salmon entree because it was so much food. Kind of rare for cruise ship portions. I hate wasting food, so I won’t make the mistake of ordering a second entree again, particularly if I choose the indian vegetarian dish.

Carnival Panorama Indian Food
Carnival Panorama Indian Food

Needless to say, this entree was excellent. It wasn’t too spicy, and the combination of flavors truly hit the spot. This is, without a doubt the best main dining room entree we’ve tried to date on this cruise.

The salmon cake was also nicely prepared, as was Junior’s beef tenderloin (served with extra horseradish, of course!).

For dessert, we went with the Carnival classics. Bitter & Blanc & Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.

Drink of the Day

For today’s featured libation, I headed to Carnival Panorama’s famed Alchemy Bar to try a new concoction. The Alchemist’s Sidecar caught my eye, and the bar waiter confirmed that my selection was a staff fave.

Carnival Panorama Alchemist Sidecar
Carnival Panorama Sheri Drinking An Alchemists’ Sidecar

Served with a sugared rim in a martini glass, this citrusy martini was a perfectly blended “Sheri Approved” mix of strong and slightly sweet. Hennessy Black Cognac, Patrón Citrónge, fresh lime juice and simple syrup make up the ingredients, and I’ll be trying this at home.

Venue of the Day

Hidden on Deck 12, midship, The Sports Square Clubhouse is an air conditioned, indoor extension of the Sports Square complex. Ping Pong tables, foosball & a giant pool table fill this area, which is an oasis on a muggy summer afternoon in the Mexican Riviera. Did I mention it’s air conditioned?

Carnival Panorama Clubhouse at Sportsquare
Carnival Panorama Clubhouse at Sportsquare

We stumbled upon this spot while roaming the ship one day, and reluctantly opened the door, thinking it must be an off limits crew area. It’s now become one of our favorite spots on the ship, with the life-size billiards game that you play with your feet only (yep, like billiards meets soccer), being a family favorite.

Daily Highlight

When I look back on this day, the highlight has to be discovering that staying on the ship IS FUN! As a “go, go, go” family, chilling out on a nearly empty ship was a cool change. I visited the thermal suite, the boys roamed the ship capturing photos and video, and there was simply no pressure to be anywhere.

Carnival Panorama Thermal Suite
Carnival Panorama Thermal Suite

Shipboard Activities we Missed Today

The movie “Raya and the Last Dragon” was playing on the big screen at Dive in Movies, and looked like a fun family activity. A round of “Guess What Year” would have been a good activity for Mr. CTTV, who excels at these type of facts. Lastly, Karaoke was being held in the Havana Bar, and while we passed through briefly, we wished we’d planned ahead for this one. There was some serious talent in that room!

Carnival Panorama Havana Bar
Carnival Panorama Havana Bar

Fun Fact

Shaquille O’Neal was born in 1972, the same year Carnival Cruise Line entered service.

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Sheri and her family are California based cruise content creators focused on providing practical tips and advice to new and seasoned cruisers. CruiseTipsTV’s audience enjoys following Sheri and her family as they travel the world by ship creating travel films. Sheri has visited destinations like Japan, Mexico, Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean, and has experienced 33 cruises on 6 cruise lines. She was named one of Porthole Cruise Magazine’s 10 Travel Influencers Changing How We Vacation in 2018 and 2019. Sheri has been quoted in the New York Times, CNBC, Forbes, Prevention, and Business Innovator Radio. Her YouTube Channel, CruiseTipsTV has over 87,000 subscribers and 17 million views.