Our Mexican Riviera Cruise
Long Beach, California
Our Mexican Riviera Cruise began in Long Beach, California where we spent a full day exploring.
Our Carnival Panorama cruise stops included Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas. This 8 night cruise was great! We loved the ship and enjoyed each of the stops. Our Itinerary Follows:
Friday, Oct 1, 2021 – Fly from Raleigh, NC to Long Beach, CA
Saturday, Oct 2, 2021 – Cruise Day!!
Sunday, Oct 3, 2021 – Sea Day
Monday, Oct 4, 2021 – Sea Day
Tuesday, Oct 5, 2021 – Puerto Vallarta
Wednesday Oct 6, 2021 – Mazatlán
Thursday Oct 7, 2021 – Cabo San Lucas
Wednesday Oct 8, 2021 – Sea Day
Thursday, Oct 9, 2021 – Debarkation Long Beach, California, take Red Eye from LA to Raleigh, NC.
Table of Contents
Our trip began on October 1st when we traveled on a direct flight from Raleigh, North Carolina to Los Angeles. An early flight that got us to Los Angeles about 9:00 am. We took a shuttle to their Taxi / UBER, area and took a Taxi from Los Angeles to our hotel Hyatt Regency in Long Beach, which took us about 45 minutes (at the most). We asked for early check in and were in our room by 10:30 or so. We could see the dock where our ship will be embarking from along with the Queen Mary.
On Friday, we checked in early at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Long Beach. We got a snack from the snack bar at the hotel…it was really bad, so we decided to find somewhere else to eat. Most of the restaurants were several blocks of walking. After reviewing options, we decided to walk up Pine Avenue to 7-Eleven (to get Coke for Pat for the cruise) and see if we can find a restaurant on the way. We found Kings Fish House on Pine Ave where we had a good lunch. After purchasing a 12 can Coke at 7 Eleven we returned to the hotel and took a short nap. We spent much time watching the Cruise Port from our hotel window. For dinner we walked over a foot bridge from the Hyatt over to the City of Long Beach Rainbow Harbor where they had several restaurants and stores. We walked all the way around the pier back behind Parkers Lighthouse and walked a ways to get a closer look at the Queen Mary and the Carnival Miracle docked at the terminal which was across the Los Angeles River.
On the way back we stopped at Tequila Jacks for dinner and a Margarita. By now we had walked over 12,000 steps and were ready to return to the hotel and crash for the night.
About Long Beach
Long Beach was a ranching community in 1800’s with Railroad going through in the 1880’s. The Long Beach port was established 1911. Long Beach was struck by a major earthquake in 1933 and Downtown Long Beach was rebuilt in Art Deco style. In 1941, The U.S. Naval Shipyard dry dock was built to service the largest naval ships. In 1947, the first and only flight of Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, the world’s largest airplane, took off over Long Beach Harbor. In 1967, the city of Long Beach purchased Cunard’s former luxury cruise liner, the Queen Mary, to be docked in Long Beach Harbor as a major tourism attraction and hotel. In 1983, the Spruce Goose was moved from its hidden hangar to be exhibited in the world’s largest geodesic dome adjacent to the Queen Mary. In 1992, the Spruce Goose is moved to McMinnville, Oregon to become the centerpiece for the Air Venture Museum, and its dome is “converted” for use as a movie studio by Warner Bros. In 2003, Carnival Cruise lines opened a terminal adjacent to the Queen Mary and became the first cruise line to operate in Long Beach. The terminal is located in the ‘dome’, the previous home of the Spruce Goose, using half of the dome (66,000 square feet). In 2017, they expanded the terminal operation to use the entire building, 142,000 square feet.
Long Beach, California Photos
Photos – Long Beach, California.
Click on any photo to see enlargement and scroll through photos.
Cruise Day!! Saturday, October 2, 2021
We were still on Eastern time mentally so we got up and ready for the day fairly early. We checked frequently to see if the ship had arrived. It finally arrived earlier than schedule at 9:00 am. We didn’t have to check out until noon and wanted to leave for the port by 11:30 or so (our check in was 12:00-12:30). John found a place for us to eat breakfast but was a bit of a walk away…we walked back up Pine Avenue and purchased tissues for the cruise at the 7-11 (at the corner of Broadway and Pine Avenue, then walked several blocks to the Potholder Café Downtown at the corner of Pine Avenue and Cedar Avenue, where we had a very good breakfast. This all added to the 12,000 steps we would take this day.
We got a Taxi to the Port and got in line. It moved quickly until we got into the building, then slowed down. It wasn’t too bad, but it was very hot in the terminal building, and I got a cramp (dang). Otherwise, it went pretty fast and we were on board by a bit after noon. Rooms were not going to be ready until 1:30, but we decided to find our room (14222) just in case it was ready and sure enough our cards were ready. Yay…we didn’t have to haul our carry-ons around with us.
We went to the Pig and Anchor and had a quick lunch and ate dinner at JiJi’s where John got his favorite dish, Cost was additional $15.00 each and well worth it. We had anytime dining and just had to sign up on the Carnival Hub App when we were ready to go to dinner in the Main Dining room for Breakfast/Brunch and Dinner. We never had to wait and always had a table ready by the time we walked down to the dining room. This was probably because the cruise ship was only about 61% capacity, but overall found the process worked well. Several days, we got to sit at tables at windows with great views.
We spent most of the “Cruise day” walking around and getting familiar with the ship. The cruise had a Halloween theme as we were the first cruise in October.
In the evenings we spent a bit of time in the Casino….I didn’t last long, so would go back to the room and read while John stayed and played. Most days coming back with a win, Go John!!!
Cruise Day Photos
Photos – Cruise Day!
Click on any photo to see enlargement and scroll through photos.
The first night out must have rained, as our deck was all wet when we got up. The day turned out beautiful, sunny skies and warm enough to sit out and enjoy our cabin deck.
We had breakfast (almost every day) in the Main Dining Room. Sea Days they had a Brunch menu and opened at 8:30 am. On Port Days and Embarkation day, they opened at 7:00 am.
On Sunday, we attended the morning show and each day when we got back to our room, it was all made up with a fun towel animal waiting for us. They gave us a choice of morning or evening room service and we chose mornings, which worked perfectly for us. Our room stewardess was Jennifer and on our first day John asked for ice and every day after that we found fresh ice waiting for us.
This was the day John purchased a Carnival Panorama Inaugural Season shirt. Because he won at the Casino the first time he wore it, it became his “favorite” to wear at the Casino and worked for the first 5 days of the Cruise. On Friday, he purchased another shirt (different color) because he liked it so much.
For lunch, we again ate at the Pig and Anchor. They had free lunch on Embarkation and Sea Days.
In the afternoon, we played Bingo….no winners here.
For dinner, John had Fish and Chips from the SeaFood Shack and I had a salad from the salad bar in the buffet.
We had a beautiful sunset!
On Monday, we had breakfast in the Main Dining Room and also had dinner in the Main Dining Room. We punched it up with a glass of wine! We were placed at the back of the ship with a beautiful view of the sunset as we ate.
We spent the day walking around the ship, perusing the shops and just relaxing.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
We were up and on our balcony by the time the ship arrived in Puerto Vallarta, so got many photos of the area as the ship came into the bay and turned around to park at the dock. The weather was hot and muggy with beautiful blue skies.
We scheduled a tour “Old Vallarta and Tequila Tasting”. So, after an early breakfast we left the ship to go on the tour. It was a 4 ½ hour tour (although it took over 5 hours) with 48 people on the bus and ended up with a lot of walking (estimate about 5000 steps).
The tour started in the port area, and we drove through the new section before stopping in Old Vallarta where we left the bus and walked up the Beachfront area (Camarones Beach). It was interesting to see Old Vallarta, where many of the roads are cobblestone and very high curbs. It was a bit aged, as expected, with beautiful beaches. After a short visit to Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Church. We then continued our walk to the tour guides preferred shop (Can’t recall the name of the shop, but it was a few blocks from the Church toward the Beach). A bit of time was allowed for shopping. I was too hot and worn out to do any shopping, so I just sat and waited. John bought himself a new cool hat. Small water and margaritas were offered for free.
After shopping we boarded the bus and travelled up Hwy 200, passing where many hotels and new buildings were being built, to Tequila Mama Lucia Distillery for Tequila tasting. I sat out with a couple of other non-drinkers, while John enjoyed the comradery of the others while tasting the many kinds of Tequila. After a purchase of a couple of bottles, we then got back on the bus and drove back through an area where the “locals” lived, which was very run down and poor. It was well after 2:00 pm by the time we got back to the ship.
John had a Guys burger and fries for lunch, and I had a salad from the buffet.
We had another beautiful sunset and dinner in the Main Dining Room.
Again, we were up an on our balcony when the ship came into the Mazatlán pier. And the weather, again, was hot and muggy with beautiful blue skies.
We had breakfast in the Main Dining Room and left the ship which was docked in a container ship area. There were open air trolleys that transported passengers to a shopping area and where you could catch a taxi into town. We had not signed up for any excursions, but once in the port shops, we were talked into taking a tour to the observatory, which turned out to be an excellent choice.
They procured an open air “taxi” for us, (a golf cart) and our tour guide went with us to the 1873 Observatory Tourist Park. We waited in a small shop area until a few others would join us. We had a total of 8 of us for the tour, which was a nice number. We were then taken to a room that showed a short movie about the history of the area and its Mexican culture, along with popcorn and water. After the movie we took the funicular (a tram) up to the top of the hill where you could view the port from the top of the Cerro del Vigias. Only 8 – 12 people can get on the funicular at a time.
Observatory Tourist Park 18731
Sitting on the top of Cerro del Vigía and 75 meters above sea level, this building known as Observatorio was initially built by the people of Mazatlán as a military observation post, hence the name Cerro del Vigía. Due to its strategic location and complete dominance of the landscape, it served the city to protect it from the constant incursions of enemy ships, as well as ships dedicated to piracy. In 1873 he joined meteorological and seismological work, being one of the two most important in the country at the time.
Its emblematic construction refers to the predominant colonial architecture of its time and to the glory of a past of development and growth of the port, witnessing great events in their history. The building is part of the heritage of Mazatlán, which was decided to restore its glorious past and in doing so, relive a little of the greatness and history of the port.
The museum is decorated in early 1900’s style with many interesting artifacts, antiques, furniture and photos. The view is spectacular, and you have views of the Ocean, the port and the El Faro Lighthouse, which is the highest lighthouse in the Americas. The only way up is to walk up the winding path. They are in the process of putting up a zip line from the lighthouse to attract tourists.
After the tour guide gave us a bit of history of the museum, we were allowed to go through the building and see the wonderful artifacts, furniture and pictures of the past. We were also allowed outside where we were able to photo the beautiful view of the lighthouse side.
They then took us to the bird sanctuary (up another flight of stairs). This was a big hit for everyone. The beautiful parrots, many of them babies, would come to you and sit on your hands or shoulder. I got several pictures of John with the parrots. One of the babies stayed on his shoulder for most of that part of the tour…the caretaker had to come get him off of John before we left the enclosure. Below they had several Flamingoes. It was a fabulous place.
After we left the bird sanctuary, we viewed the Agaviary (a garden with a variety of cactus).
We were then taken up another level to their bar where we were served drinks. John and I had Margaritas while we enjoyed the beautiful view of the lighthouse. A nice breeze came through to cool us off.
We took the tram back down and the open-air taxi was there to take us back to the ship. They offered to take us to downtown Mazatlán, but I was whipped from the heat and declined. I wish we had him drive through the downtown, in hindsight. I’m sure he would have done that for an additional $5 or so, but didn’t think of it at the time.
Overall, the tour was great and well worth the price (about $39 each) and we would give it a 5 out of 5 star rating.
We stopped at the terminal shops and bought Toni and Jeff (my daughter and son-in-law) some Coffee, then took the tram back to the ship. Once back at the ship, we had lunch. John had a burrito from the Blue Iguana Cantina. I had a salad from the salad bar in the buffet. Dinner was in the Main Dining Room.
Mazatlán, Mexico Photos
Photos – Mazatlán.
Click on any photo to see enlargement and scroll through photos.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Again, we were up in time to watch as the ship “anchored” in the Bay for the Cabo San Lucas stop. Cabo does not have a cruise dock, so the “anchor” out in the Bay and is called a “tender” port. The passengers take a tender into the Cabo San Lucas port. There is shopping and many bars and restaurants along the pier. This is also where they can meet up with their various tours. We got off the ship and did a bit of shopping. We found a cute shirt for Mia. (our granddaughter), the only purchase we made. We came back on board after only a short visit. We’d been to Cabo San Lucas before, on our 2017 Panama Canal Cruise.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the ship. At the Pig and Anchor, John bought himself a Bloody Mary with a Pig and Anchor mug, which he drank half of, putting the rest in the refrigerator for another day. One of his goals was to get that mug to bring home. For lunch, John went to JiJi’s for a Mongolian Wok lunch. I had a salad from the salad bar in the buffet. For dinner we ate in the Main Dining Room. This was formal night, and the staff delivered a Bottle of Castle Rock Winery, Pinot Noir wine, from the Casino staff for John. They do love John, luckily he was on the winning side this cruise.
Friday was a sea day, so all the shops and Casino were open. They had a variety of activities, but we just chose to wander around the ship, relax and enjoy the Sea Day. John bought another shirt in the shops, and I wanted to get a magnet, but never did. John spent a little time in the Casino, but for the most part we just relaxed and enjoyed the Sea Day. Once we left Cabo San Lucas the weather changed. The temperature dropped significantly, and it was windy. It was too cold and windy to sit out on our Deck. You could feel the movement of the ship with the weather change, although it was still sunny.
The worse part of the cruise, was that we had to pack. We waited until bedtime (for Pat), saving a set of clothes for the next day, and put the bags out for the cruise folks to pick up and take down to the terminal. We took the last number to be called (25), since our flight was not until late Saturday night (Red Eye). After packing, John went down to the Casino for a bit. I crashed.
We got up early, dressed and went down to breakfast in the Main Dining Room. When we got back, we finished packing everything up into our carry on and were out of the cabin by about 9:00 (They wanted everyone out of their cabins by 9:30). Embarkation was on Deck 4 from the Casino area. We spent the next hour or so on deck 5 watching as people disembarked. We were the last group called and were off the ship by about 10:30. Once we picked up our luggage, we had to wait in line to go through customs. Instead of checking our passport manually, they had a digital face recognition system. I went through without a hitch, but John had a hitch. The face recognition system did not recognize him, so a person had to be called over to inspect his passport and ask a few questions. Once released, we found the buses to the Los Angeles Airport (which we had signed up for). We were the last two on board, so the bus left shortly after we boarded. We got to the Airport about noon or a little after.
After checking in and going through security we were getting hungry, but the only places to eat were packed with long lines. John wanted to go to the Delta’s Sky Club to wait, since they had food and a nicer area to wait. The cost was $38 each, with Johns Amex Card and proof of flight info. This turned out to be an awesome investment. They had great food (which was available all day long), free drinks (John, bloody Mary’s and I had a rum and coke). They had coffee, pop drink dispenser, water, and a variety of foods like sandwiches, cookies, snack foods like cheese squares, pepperoni, etc. They had green beans, mashed potatoes, soup, bread and a variety of salads. I munched all day long. Our flight was at 10:00 pm so we were there for over 9 hours in total. It would have cost much more than the $38/each for lunch and dinner at one of the restaurants. Not to mention the added drinks. They had comfortable chairs of different styles with charging stations. It was AWESOME!! [They’ve since limited the time you can spend in the Sky Club and can’t check in until a few hours before your flight].
The flight home was uneventful, but I couldn’t sleep, and John only slept a bit. Toni picked us up and we got home about 6:00 am and we both crashed.
Our sweet cats, Elliot and Ellie, have been staying close by since we got home.
- Obsevatory Tourist Park 1873-website at https://observatorio1873.com/#historia (Accessed 1 Jun 2021)