Review of Carnival Horizon

My Review Of Carnival Horizon



I returned last week from a weekend sailing on the new Carnival Horizon. After sailing from Spain back in April and May and New York City in May and June, the Horizon came down to Miami to make herself at home for Caribbean sailings.

Horizon is part of the "Vista" class of Carnival ships, the newest in the fleet. There are 14 decks, 1965 cabins on board, and space for up to 4700 passengers and around 1400 crew. The ship is huge, and honestly at times I completely forgot I was even on a ship. I've done smaller cruises and larger ones as well, but this was the largest of the ships I'd been on yet and it was the perfect size in my opinion.


STATEROOM

This was the most spacious stateroom we've sailed in so far. We stayed in cabin number 6395 which is category 8B, a Balcony Stateroom, on Deck 6. It was in the perfect location, not too close to the elevators but not too far. The room was just the right size for the two of us and plenty of space to move around. (Tip: The coffee table can easily slide under the desk leaving even more floor space).


The bathroom was by far the largest of the bathrooms we've had on our sailings. For the first time I was able to shower in a cruise cabin stand up shower without my elbows hitting the wall. Everything appeared clean and new.


I love the Smart TV's that have our information on them when we check in. All hotels and cruise lines should have this.


The balcony space was perfect for the two of us. It was a smaller sized balcony but just enough space for two people to sit and relax. The furniture was basic but comfortable and there was even a small table.


If you're interested, here is a video walkthrough of our entire stateroom:


FOOD:

First thing we did when we got on board was dropped off our bags and scoped out a place to eat. Of course the easiest place was the buffet (Lido) so we went straight there. There we found tons of options, which of course you'd expect, but that made it simple to find something we both felt like eating. The food was normal for buffet standards. Nothing too thrilling, but nothing that I felt I'd never eat again.


We also tried the pizza at Pizza Pirate, because with only 2 nights on board we needed to experience as much as we possible could. And besides, who can pass up a pizza? 😋 I actually really liked the pizza they served here. Some places can really mess up a smile personal pan-sized pizza so I was a bit worried at first, but I was impressed.


On the second day we did breakfast at the Lido buffet which was typical eggs, meats, omelettes, etc. All very basic breakfast buffet food and all tasted pretty standard. Because we were doing a short sailing we didn't have access to the "Sea Day Brunch" but it sounded delicious from what I saw on the menu (available online here).

Lunch on day two was different. We skipped the buffet and tried all the other "included" (free) options available. Instead we tried the Mongolian Wok. The food here was pretty good and service was quick. When you sit down you're handed a paper menu and pencils and you build your own bowl. It can be with rice, noddles, vegetables, meats, etc. They also give you appetizer options as well. My husband and I both did the Lo Mein noodles with different meat and veggies in it, and we tried a salad appetizer with the crispy wonton appetizer they gave us.


We also read on the sign that the Italian Restaurant (Cucina del Capitano) has a pasta buffet during lunch and I believe it's open from 12pm-2pm only. But we didn't get a chance to try it because we planned to dine there for dinner that night and wanted to use that time to dine elsewhere. Looking back, that was a big mistake on our part, but I'll get to that later.

A few hours after eating, and walking the ship taking photos, we worked our appetites back up and  headed up to the pool deck restaurants to do a bit of a "mix and match". That's where we get a little of everything and then share it, something we like to do when we have limited time to try multiple restaurants on a short trip. 

We tried a "Plain Jane" cheeseburger from Guy's Burger Joint and burritos from Blueiguana Cantina. We skipped Guy's BBQ (only because neither of us eat pork) but I'm kicking myself now because I see on the menu they have chicken and beef and man does their Mac & Cheese look amazing. If only we had a full week! 😩

Once we got what we ordered we actually took it back to our cabin because we wanted to enjoy some downtime in our stateroom too.

To be honest, the burger was good but they really burnt the edges so I ended up having to pick a lot of those parts off or it ruined the flavor. Next time I won't let them just give me the burger already made I'll request they make one medium for me instead. The fries were good.

The burritos were okay but not my favorite. Warning, I LOVE Tex-Mex food, so when I see limes and cilantro and rice and steak from across the room I basically make a beeline for them. I've had some great Tex-Mex and some pretty awful Tex-Mex and this ranked a little above awful. It wasn't that it was inedible or anything, it was just underwhelming. First, they gave me a wheat wrap instead of a flour one. He didn't ask me which I wanted he just grabbed one and started making it. But that ruined the flavor for me. The meat was cooked great but the rice lacked flavor so I ended up unrolling my burrito and just eating the steak pieces out. The pico and everything else tasted normal but Tex-Mex should have flavor and sadly this was lacking. Now, to be fair, there is a condiment bar that you can load up on sauces and what not, but I like my food cooked with the spices not drowned with sauces after it's cooked so for me it was my least favorite meal and that was sad since it's my most favorite cuisine. I also didn't dare try the sour cream because I never trust sour cream that's been sitting out in the heat (even if the container is on ice). 

All-in-all, lunch was fine. There are plenty of options and you can't go wrong with that. The good things is, if you don't like one thing, you can try something else completely and it won't cost you anything more.

If you're not familiar with cruising then dinner may be a bit confusing for you. All guests on the ship dine in the main dining room called "American Table". Don't worry, it's massive and set up like a luxury restaurant and not some big "mess hall" or anything like that. 

Dining times are staggered so the restaurant isn't too crowded. Once there you can be assigned a small table for just the two of you, or larger ones if you're sailing as a family or a group. You'll eat off of a menu created for that dining hall and the menu may change slightly but for the most part it will remain the same throughout the sailing. 

We had the late dining time of 8:15pm as part of our group. So by the time dinner was being served it was too dark to really see anything out the windows of the restaurant. But generally the view is pretty nice from some of the tables. 

We tried a few appetizers, such as the shrimp cocktail and crab cakes. Both were really good. I also had the tomato soup which I instantly regretted since I forgot they had a delicious strawberry soup I'd tried on a ship inspection once. I could have requested they send me that instead but didn't want to be too picky so I stuck with the tomato. (Menu can be found here).


My husband had a Vegetarian dish which consisted of lentils, basmati rice, papadam and raita. He said it was good.

I had the steak with a potato and mac and cheese. The steak was cooked perfectly and delicious. The potato was a typical potato. The mac and cheese let me down. I love good flavorful mac and cheese and this was too bland for my taste. Even with adding salt it didn't help the flavor. It was fine though, I didn't need the carbs anyway. 😉


Speaking of carbs, make sure to save room for dessert. I've never sailed on Carnival before this trip but I had done site inspections where as travel agents we come on board a ship and do a tour and then have lunch before it sails. In the lunches we've had on those ships they've always served us their molten lava cake with ice cream and it's always sooooooo good. Of course I had to get it this time, too. It was still just as good though a bit more gooey than I remembered it being last time. But I'd still order it again in a heart beat even though it's very rich and hard to finish. 


On the second night (the last night) we decided to pay to dine at a speciality restaurant to test one out. Since I'd had steak the night before a American Table, I thought maybe the steakhouse wasn't the best option. We didn't want to do Jiji Asian Kitchen because it was basically the Mongolian Wok we ate for lunch that day. We contemplated doing the Japanese restaurant (Bonsai Teppanyaki & Bonsai Sushi) which is my husband's favorite cuisine, but for whatever crazy reason we decided to go with Cucina del Capitano, the Italian restaurant.

For starters, the bread was pretty good. I almost ate all of it because it was so light.

For appetizers we did the Calamari, the "Il Capitano's Signature Arancini" (fried risotto balls), and the "Il Capitano's Favorite Insalata Di Rucola" which is basically a fancy salad.


I love Italian food but I was not impressed with what I ordered at this restaurant. It was $15 per person which is a good price, but I should have stuck to eating something I loved. I thought I'd get crazy and try something I hadn't had before, which for me was their "Signature Dish". I believe each night it may change because the menu (online here) doesn't list what I specifically ordered which was called "Pasta Patate E Provola Di Rosaria" which is essentially Provo cheese, mixed pasta (al dente), tossed with bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and parmesan cheese all in a red sauce. I did not like it at all. I thought it would be in a cream based sauce which made more sense to me with the potatoes and bacon but with the red sauce I just wasn't a fan.


My husband however had the linguini with Alfredo sauce but requested shrimp instead of clams. His food tasted good and I wished I'd ordered it instead.

All-in-all, for dinner, I would have tried something other than the Italian and stuck to the free Italian pasta bar for lunch instead of spending the money. If we'd been at sea more days I may have tried it for dinner again but there were better options I now wish I'd tried. Like the Japanese restaurants.



ENTERTAINMENT:

Some of the things I loved were things that were new to at-sea cruises, like the IMAX Multiplex theater. My husband and I love going to the movies, so the fact that we could pay $12 per person to go see the latest films on board during our sailing was pretty cool. Unfortunately, our trip only lasted 2 nights so we didn't want to waste the time in the movie theater but had we been sailing for a week I absolutely would have gone to see a film. The plus side is that candy and soda and popcorn are much cheaper here then at the theaters we normally go to.


There is also a "Thrill Theater" which is super cool. We did get a chance to try that out since the whole experience is maybe 15 minutes long at most. It was $5 per person and you go in and sit on chairs that move up and down and forward and backward. It's a whole interactive experience and they have three levels, the first being kid friendly, the second being a PG-13 option, and the third is the adult's only rated R option which is apparently super scary. We went to the PG-13 option since the R one was playing during our dinner time slot. But it was pretty cool to experience and definitely lived up to it's "thrilling" name.


We also had a chance to see the comedians on night one, and liked them so much we went back night two. We opted for the late night show which was adult's only and quite raunchy but hilarious.


We tried to watch the production they put on, which I sadly forgot the name of, but we came in mid-show and most of it didn't make sense to us by then so we left and decided to take a walk around instead.

I'm glad we did because they were having a competition down by the Horizon Atrium and it was hilarious. I'm pretty sure it was a dance-off but it definitely drew a crowd on all three levels. There was also live music playing (acoustics, Motown, etc) throughout the evening in intervals here. It was definitely the hot spot to hang out for entertainment.


Speaking of the Horizon Atrium, during the day time when it's all lit up it's stunning. It's the first thing you see when you walk into the ship and it's a really incredible welcome.

There is also The Warehouse which is an arcade center. Of course the games cost extra but it's a cool place for kids to hang out.


I'll be honest, had the Mario Kart game been a two player we probably would have dropped a good $50 in here playing. We'd said we wanted to bring our Nintendo Switch to play Mario Kart in the evening but decided against it since it was a short trip. By night one we were going through withdrawals since it's our nightly routine to play a round or two before bed.

There are also water slides and and non-water sports like basketball, billiards/pool, shuffle board, corn hole, etc.


Oh and this crazy Sky Ride thing that I would never in my life dare to try. I applaud anyone brave enough to voluntarily go higher than you already are 15 floors above the ocean. I saw some kids on the obstacle course up there too. Super brave! 🙈

You can also enjoy a "Dive-In Movie". While we were in port in Nassau, they were playing Black Panther. Some people were in the pool watching and others on lounge chairs or the padded loungers on the higher decks. There was popcorn available at the Tides Bar for anyone who wanted some. In the evening after dinner we caught the end of the Han Solo movie playing. Decided to grab some popcorn and ice cream (the machines are in the Lido buffet available for all guests even when the restaurant is closed) and curl up on a comfy lounger to watch some of it together. It was a cool experience.

If you're not interested in water or sports activities, you can always do one of the organized activities throughout the ship. The schedule is packed full of options for all types of travelers. I caught some of the trivia games going on in the afternoon and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

There is also the Casino which is not where I'd spend my time but it's a great option for people who do love to gamble. The place was packed in the evenings. People playing the machines or black jack. I was surprised how many people actually hang out here, plus it's one of the few designated smoking areas too.

You can also hang out at the Sky Box Sports Bar to catch the latest games and have a drink.

There honestly was no shortage of things to do. I love that about cruising. You never run out of options for fun and Carnival is known for being the "Fun Ship" for a reason. 


POOLS:

So here is one of the few downsides I find to cruising. I love the pool, and sadly with 4700 people on a ship and a pool the size of the one I have in my backyard, it's not really easy to enjoy pool time on a cruise vacation. And if you do get some pool time, you're going to feel like you're on display since a thousand pool loungers all face the giant bath tub you're swimming in.

There are three pools on Carnival Horizon. The first is the Beach Pool on the Lido deck (10) which is the main pool on board. This is where the movies play and most of the restaurants and activities are located.


Then there is the Tides Pool which is on the back of the ship on the Lido deck (10). This one is quieter. Though it's still a "hot spot" since the view is awesome.

The third pool is the Havana pool which is exclusive to guests staying in the Havana level suites. However, apparently after 7pm the area opens up to all guests, though most are at dinner or elsewhere so this is the perfect time to jump into your swim suit and hang out here so you can watch the sun set and enjoy an almost empty pool. Just don't try to sneak into the Havana area during the day time. It won't work. Guests in the Havana suites have wrist bands that allow them in and it is monitored.




ADULT'S ONLY AREA:

One thing I wish Carnival had done was put a pool in the Adults only area. There are hot tubs but I feel like a pool would have been a nice addition back there. But it's great to have an area where there are no kids and you can lay back and enjoy some peace and quiet. It's no wonder this is called the "Serenity" area.




TIPS:

Just from my experience sailing I put together a few tips that I wanted to make sure to alert you all to.


  • Download the Carnival App before you sail. It's called "Carnival HUB" and it's free on the App store. It's so worth having. It will give you all the info you will need throughout your trip right at your fingertips. It was a godsend for us on multiple occasions when we needed to know when restaurants were open, make reservations, check out balances, etc.
  • Don't wait in the long line at Guest Services to put a card on file to charge at the end of your stay. Make sure to check-in online ahead of time and put one on file. You'll also get to skip through all the check-in at the cruise port and go straight on board to your stateroom where your card keys will be waiting for you. If you forget to put a card on file, there is a kiosk in the hall next to guest services that you can use instead of waiting in line (make sure you have the card with you when you go to the kiosk). If you don't see your charges from the last night on the cruise show up on the app, be patient. In the morning they likely will.
  • If you're cruising and hate waiting, consider not checking any bags. Bring just a carry on and a personal bag with you with everything you need in it and then you don't need to wait for luggage when you get to your stateroom. Plus, when leaving the ship you won't need to wait for everyone else and your group to be called. You can just leave. We got up super early on the day we disembarked and they let us right off with our carry on bags with the first group, even though our group was to be called later. But since we didn't have bags to get at baggage claim, they said we didn't need to wait.
  • Beware of the Do Not Disturb sign. My husband and I are in the habit of putting the sign up when we are on vacation and completely forgetting it's there. So, we made the mistake on this sailing. Night one we put the sign up and went to dinner. The next morning we forgot to take it down when we left for breakfast. By the afternoon we got a phone call from security concerned because our stateroom attendant hadn't seen us and the DND had been up for a long period of time. We felt awful but of course security had to come and meet us and make sure we were both okay. Super embarrassing, but I understand why they have to do it. God forbid one of both of us went overboard and they had no clue. So don't make the same mistake we did.
  • If you have Global Entry make sure to bring your Global Entry card with you! I bring our cards on every single trip we take and never once have we needed it. This time, I switched the document holders we normally use to new ones and it didn't have a space for the cards so I opted not to bring them. Big mistake. It was our first time cruising with Global Entry and I had no idea. While we stood in the long line to go through customs and immigration I saw the Global Entry sign and asked someone which line we needed to be in for that. She advised us we needed to have the card with us since there are no kiosks there and the card serves as proof of us having Global Entry. Murphy'a Law... the ONE trip I forget to bring the cards I never end up needing, and that's the one trip I end up needing them. So, again, learn from our mistakes and bring your Global Entry cards.




CLOSING:

It really was a lovely ship and sailing experience. The staff was incredible and friendly. Everyone wanted to go out of their way to help or say hello. They really make the whole experience even better. I would definitely sail Carnival Horizon again, and hopefully for longer. I have the itch to get back on a cruise soon, so stay tuned for future blog updates on our travels.

If you're interested in more photos than the ones I've shared, feel free to check out my public Facebook album from this trip. It can be found here.

For now, here is an awesome link with all the information you'll need to know about Carnival Horizon.



Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have, or if you want a price quote or are ready to book, visit myparadiseplanner.com/help and select me as the agent you wish to work with. My help is always 100% free for you, so it won't cost you anything extra to work with me. If you're on the fence, take a look at my reviews to get an idea of what my past clients are saying about working with me: https://www.myparadiseplanner.com/kiras-reviews

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