September 23, 2022

Cruise Writer Shares Which Cruise She Always Recommends – Best Life

As a cruise connoisseur, few people who know me but have not heard of my passion. Cruises are my number one mode of travel, and I seem to always be either on a ship or planning my next vacation at sea. Recently I shared with a friend of mine how much I love sailing on a particular cruise liner, and it wasn’t long before she and I were booking a trip together on that same ship. Read on to find out why this is the only cruise I always recommend to my friends.

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Katarina S./Shutterstock

Carnival Panorama sails the Mexican Riviera year-round, and thanks to the features of the ship and the itinerary, it’s the one cruise I always tell my loved ones to check out. My aforementioned buddy and I kept tabs on cruise fares and found plenty, so we could experience it together.

Granted, I like to splurge sometimes, but the great thing about Carnival Panorama is that it doesn’t have to be done at all. My friend and I were able to book our own single cabins with no solo supplement (additional cost for solo travelers) for only $300 each. For a one week cruise? Count on me. My friend said the cruise fare made her even more excited for this vacation, especially since she knew it wouldn’t take months to save up for her getaway.

Carnival cruise ship

I’ve sailed on small, medium, large and huge ships from a handful of cruise lines and each has its own personality. I’ve always considered the Carnival Panorama comfortably between a medium to large ship, with a capacity of 4,008 passengers. There are 15 decks, which may seem like a lot, but excluding the floors dedicated to cabins, there are eight decks with public areas. These decks include restaurants, bars, performance venues, comedy clubs, shops, and more.

During a week-long cruise on Panorama, I aim to eat at my favorite restaurants, and there are still a handful that I never go to, which means there are a lot of variety for all. Also, despite the size of the ship, I do not constantly meet the same faces; yet, it’s not big enough to be overwhelming for first-time cruisers.

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huge family cruise cabin

For those looking for an upgraded experience, Panorama offers a wonderful assortment of spacious cabins and suites. When I travel with my spouse, we often take advantage of a larger balcony suite. Then I have friends who upgrade to the Havana or Spa cabins because each one comes with added perks like access to the Cloud 9 spa or the exclusive Havana pool on the aft deck at the front of the ship.

When traveling with children, there are dedicated bedroom designs with bunk beds or multiple bedrooms. My favorite for families, however, is the selection of Family Harbor rooms and suites that have access to a dedicated living room. It can be a great place for a quick breakfast, an espresso for the parents, or an all-day soft serve ice cream. This show is always a hit with the kids for that exact reason.

cruise ship in the ocean

Carnival has called its offerings “Fun Ships,” simply because there’s so much fun to be found on board for all ages and interests. I’ve always found this to be true on my cruises, noting family-friendly events and activities alongside a thunderous comedy show aimed just at adults. For solo travelers, there are social gatherings – or you could just meet your new team of friends while attending a music quiz. I always seem to make new friends aboard this particular ship, as it’s generally a very laid back and friendly crowd.

Panorama also has a splash zone for kids, as well as equally fun slides for adults, at least in my experience sliding down one of the tubes. In addition to the pool decks, there are activity areas for all ages with a ropes course, mini-putt, indoor trampoline park and breathtaking suspended bike path.

For my friends who prefer a cooler holiday vibe, I recommend the Serenity. This beautiful, quiet space offers large spa tubs without the kids splashing around, plus a great selection of lounge chairs, cabanas, and daybeds that are first-come, first-served. Such an enhanced experience usually costs more on some cruise lines, but it’s completely free on Carnival Panorama.

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Fishing boat in Mexico
Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

What I love about cruises is waking up almost every day in a new country. But it can also be exhausting for beginners or for those who just want to enjoy the relaxing life of the ship. With a country-focused itinerary and a few relaxed days at sea, travelers needn’t worry about which language or currency to use in a new port each day.

Carnival Panorama offers a dedicated, year-round Mexican Riviera itinerary, departing from Long Beach, California to ports like Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas. Some crossings also stop in Ensenada, but what’s great about this route is that it focuses on part of the Mexican Pacific, so guests really get a good feel for the Riviera and its points culinary and cultural highlights.

I find it to be such an amazing experience overall, especially after doing this same ship and route multiple times. On a recent trip with my girlfriend, we also enjoyed the smoothness of the ports to and from the ship. We could easily get back on the ship for a quick dip in the pool before heading back to Puerto Vallarta for a second round of fun during the day harbor tour.

Cruise food platters

Most everyone knows you can take advantage of the free buffet, main dining rooms, and poolside restaurants without ever spending more than your base cruise fare. While Panorama offers amazing specialty restaurants at a very reasonable price, ranging from $15 to $38, a little-known detail is that many of these places offer a free lunch option.

One of my favorite options for onboard carnivores is Guy Fieri’s Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse. During the evenings, the on-site brasserie and restaurant offer optional a la carte fare, but on sea days the venue offers a free barbecue buffet lunch. It’s the kind of mouth-watering delight that will stick in your long-term memory. I swear my friends still rave about this place after taking that first bite.

Panorama satisfies both those who want an upscale dining experience and those who prefer to stick to free meals. You can’t really go wrong, and I think my friends would agree.

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