Carnival Panorama is the first new-build based in Long Beach, California, for 25 years. Harry Kemble takes its maiden voyage.
The lights from old Cunard ship Queen Mary – now a hotel – and Carnival Panorama, both docked in Long Beach about a mile from my hotel, are dazzling.
That effect could be partly attributed to jet lag from the 11-hour transatlantic flight I’d taken earlier, but having such a celebrated cruise ship alongside a new-build is an enchanting scene, and I feel rather giddy watching the lights twinkle in the distance.
“It’s easy to see why Carnival has based the ship here, a 25-minute drive from Los Angeles airport.”
“Welcome to Long Beach,” says the attendant, as I arrive at the sleek terminal the next day. More than 4,000 passengers are boarding Panorama, the first new-build to be based in Long Beach for a quarter of a century.
Embarkation is stress-free: the staff are friendly and the queues are short. It’s easy to see why Carnival has based the ship here, a 25-minute drive from Los Angeles airport.
Panorama, a sister ship to Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon, is sailing along the Mexican Riviera to Ensenada on its maiden voyage. While the decision raised eyebrows among some US agents, the line insists replacing Carnival Splendor in Long Beach with Panorama is part of an effort to wow the West Coast – and with California the world’s fifth-largest economy, it makes sense for Carnival to bolster deployment here with its largest-ever ship.
The Heroes Tribute Bar on deck four is a new feature and a nod to the line’s dedication to military veterans. But it’s the Sky Zone – the first trampoline park at sea – that catches my eye. Basketball and dodgeball are among the games available in the 279sq m space. I throw myself into a game of ‘whack the bat’ wearing a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt and forget I’m even on a ship.
“If clients are seeking something different – and not too serious – this is a great option.”
From the Sky Zone, I head to smokehouse restaurant The Pig & Anchor. The mouthwatering tortilla chips covered in pulled pork, bourbon barbecue sauce and melted cheese fill me up before I even get to the main.
If clients are seeking something different – and not too serious – this is a great option. Carnival knows how to entertain cruisers whose youthful exuberance burns bright – like a light in the middle of the night.
A seven-day Mexican Riviera round-trip cruise from Los Angeles on Carnival Panorama starts at £519, including all meals and port fees, departing May 9. Flights are not included.