The previous posts are right about current topicality of panoramas.
Do a search and see what comes up.
I do panoramic work and my suggestion to you is to adopt a graded approach.
It is possible to do handheld panoramas of a few shots with substantial overlapping as long as there are no near and far elements to complicate the composition and one does not compose too tightly so as to leave the option of substantial cropping. PS CS5 does have content-aware fill but this is not really a solution in a detail-rich panorama.
See what results you can achieve with the above approach.
If ultimate image quality is the way you want to go then tripods, levelling heads, dedicated panoramic heads can be researched.
After that look at focus stacking and HDR.
Learn how to maximize IQ from single exposures and then use what you have learn't for your panoramas. Live view, remote release, bean bags, tripods, and tripod stabilizing with weight all come to mind as options. Practise using live view with magnification to focus manually.
Panoramic imaging is usually all about a beautiful, richly detailed, perfectly focused, and deftly composed image.
If your research leaves you confused about certain issues come back to the forum with your queries.
Experiment a lot - one only gets good at this stuff with practice.