13th Apr 2024 | 8 nights | Carnival Cruise Line | Carnival Horizon
Carnival Horizon is a bold, beautiful ship jam-packed with activities, dining options, and bars and lounges galore. The cruise ship is sophisticated and modern, though with Carnival's take on those concepts, which includes bold colours, bright spaces and a heavy dose of fun.
The scene is set from the moment you step onboard, where live music and enthusiastic crew members greet you in the ship's main atrium, which is built around a brilliant LED funnel called the Dreamscape. The digital sculpture changes often throughout the day, and it's simply mesmerizing.
Families will adore Carnival Horizon, which boasts a huge variety of cabins for multiple passengers and larger groups, nighttime babysitting, a flashy splash park, outdoor and indoor activities, and great kids clubs. Dining rooms feature kids menus and some of the speciality restaurants include reduced prices for kids under 12.
The ship makes great use of outdoor space, thanks in large part to a wraparound promenade on Deck 5, which during the day is great for relaxing while at night it becomes additional seating for the restaurants and bars adjacent to them indoors. We also love the outdoor bar at the Havana Club, which features a pool, two hot tubs, colourful deck chairs and Latin music.
Carnival Horizon also debuted some new technology, including a smart elevator concept, designed to help with crowd control and to move people along faster -- which it does with mostly success. It's also got an upgraded version of Carnival's Hub App, which on Horizon allows passengers to do things like make restaurant reservations using their devices. (You can see the menus for each of the restaurants using the app, too, which helps with decision making.)
Service on our sailing was hit and miss. Restaurant and cabin crew members were terrifically friendly and efficient, while bar service ranged from slow to apathetic. We had long wait times poolside for service, and visited bars listed in the daily schedule as "open" only to find they were closed.
Overall, Carnival Horizon does what Carnival does best: Provides a fun vacation with endless options for passengers of all kinds. It does it with tongue-in-cheek signage and programming, a terrific partnership with Dr. Seuss and a range of great dining venues and entertaining bars and lounges.
Daytime: During the day, relaxed and casual is the name of the game. Virtually anything goes, though swimsuit attire is restricted to the outdoor spaces and men are required to wear shirts with sleeves to the main dining room.
Evening: In the evening, Carnival Horizon adheres to what the line calls a Cruise Casual dress code. For women, that means beachy dresses, casual skirts, pants or capris, jeans or dressy shorts with blouses. Men are requested to wear items such as sport slacks, khakis, jeans, long dress shorts and collared shirts.
On formal or elegant night, main dining room attire is fancier, with men wearing suits or dress pants with dress shirts and sport coats. Tuxedos are rare but not unwelcome. Women wear cocktail dresses, pantsuits, evening gowns or elegant skirts with blouses. Not all passengers participate in formal night; passengers who wish to skip it can dine at the Lido Restaurant wearing casual clothing instead. Still, you're likely to see a few passengers wearing more casual clothing in the main dining room on formal nights. Carnival Horizon sailings of two to five nights have one cruise elegant evening; sailings of six nights or longer have two.
Not permitted: Shorts (including cutoff jeans), T-shirts, flip-flops, bathing suits, caps and men's sleeveless shirts are never permitted in the main dining room or speciality restaurants during dinner.
Liquid Lounge serves as Carnival Horizon's main theatre. Covering two levels, it's a bit of a departure from traditional cruise ship theatres, in part because it's designed specifically to host the ship's Playlist Productions, which include LED special effects. The shows are a fun mix of music and technology (including aroma-infused sets), but sight lines are troublesome, especially in back, where you're battling large, silver pillars. If you want to see everything -- unobstructed -- arrive early. If you get there later and find an empty seat, chances are, it's got poor sightlines. Many passengers on our sailing elected to stand near the bar and behind the seats rather than risk obstructed views.
When there isn't a Playlist Production, the Liquid Lounge also hosts guest entertainers, such as magicians and singers, along with shows like Hasbro, The Game Show and The Love and Marriage Show. During the day, the Liquid Lounge is the spot for events like seminars, bingo, dance classes, trivia and shore excursion.
If you're a trivia fan, Carnival Horizon is the ship for you. You'll find multiple rounds of trivia every day, with topics ranging from "Friends," to "Carnival" and "Harry Potter." There's also a round of sports trivia every day. Sessions are well attended and fairly competitive. (Winners take home a coveted plastic ship on a stick.) Other participatory activities might include a digital scavenger hunt, dodgeball tournaments, hairy chest contests and poker tournaments.
The giant screen poolside often shows movies, both during the day and at night, for free, and the ship has an IMAX movie theatre, which shows current blockbuster movies for a fee (which is less than you'd pay at an IMAX theatre on land). Carnival Horizon's Thrill Theater takes passengers on quick virtual adventures, playing to all the senses using special effects and motion. Shows run the gamut, from family-friendly to slightly scary to completely terrifying. No matter which you pick, there is a fee.
Horizon Casino, located on Deck 4, is open when the ship is at sea. It's got lots of slot machines along with table games like blackjack and roulette. The ship also has a large arcade, on Deck 6, that features air hockey and drive or shooting video games. The arcade costs extra, and you pay for your games by swiping your key card.
In the evening, passengers can find live music virtually everywhere. This is also when you'll find things like karaoke and singles meet and greets going on. Carnival Horizon hosts themed deck parties, like an 80s glow party and a dress-in-white event. Guest entertainers might wander the ship, providing personalized fun. (We adored the close-up magician, who boggled our minds with his illusions.) The Liquid Lounge turns into a dance club some nights, complete with DJ.
Carnival Horizon's wide variety of bars and lounges means the ship is rocking well into the night. Many of the bars are packed after dinner, but finding seats is rarely a problem because passengers naturally gravitate to their favourites, spreading the crowds across multiple venues. Every space is fun, but the vibe -- and beverage offerings -- at each is refreshingly different.
Horizon Atrium Bar (Deck 3, midship): Probably the first bar you'll see when you board Carnival Horizon, the Atrium Bar is something to behold. The centrepiece is a stunning LED funnel that swaps images throughout the day. There's seating around the bar as well in nooks and on colourful benches. It's got live music going on starting in the afternoon and going into the evening. It might be dance music at one time, stringed instruments at another. We loved the variety here and found ourselves checking in often to see what was new.
Limelight Lounge (Deck 4, aft): During the day, the Limelight Lounge hosts talks and seminars. But things really get going at night, when it hosts comedians as part of the Punchliner Comedy Club. Earlier shows tend to be family-friendly, but later shows are definitely for adults. (Look at your Fun Times cruise daily to make sure you're not taking the kids to an adult show.) The Limelight Lounge is a large space with lots of seating in deep red armchairs facing a stage. Sightlines here are good, but pillars do get in the way. If you don't want to get stuck behind one, get to the show early.
The Limelight Lounge also hosts karaoke, live music and dancing, turning into a nightclub when the armchairs are removed.
SkyBox Sports Bar (Deck 4, aft): A full-on sports bar, SkyBox Sports Bar has a huge bank of TVs that can be used together, as one large screen, or separately. The lounge has high-top tables, booths and sports memorabilia galore. There's also a ticker that lists off the latest scores. If you have a particular game you'd like to watch, ask the bartenders -- just be aware they might not be as fanatical (or understanding) of your favorite sports team, so nailing down the right channel could take some time. Those looking for a poker fix while catching a game can sit around the electronic poker table, which was only lightly used during our sailing. The sports bar also hosts sports trivia every day.
Casino Bar (Deck 4, midship): Located smack-dab in the middle of the casino, the Casino Bar is a round bar that has a few TVs nearby. It's the only indoor venue onboard that allows smoking.
Liquid Lounge (Deck 4 and 5, forward): The Liquid Lounge serves as the ship's main theatre, and its bar is mostly for those enjoying a show.
Alchemy Bar (Deck 5, midship): This quirky bar is designed to feel like a pharmacy; bartenders dress in white lab coats and whip up a cure for what ails you. The Alchemy Bar isn't a particularly large space, but it's convenient to everything, with Bonsai Sushi and Fahrenheit 555 nearby. It also serves as a good spot to gather and grab a pre-dinner drink. It's one of the busiest lounges throughout the night, with passengers daring to try new drinks. Cocktail options are creative, and you can order from the menu or leave it in the capable hands of the skilled mixologists, who can create something unique based on your preferences. Just don't ask for beer or soda here: Alchemy Bar is strictly for cocktails.
Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse (Deck 5, midship): Carnival Horizon is the only ship in the line's extensive fleet that has a Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse onboard. Consider it a hit. Beer is the star here: The bar offers four varieties brewed onboard at the ship's brewery. Choose from the ParchedPig Smoked Porter, ParchedPig Farmhouse Ale, ParchedPig Toasted Amber Ale or ParchedPig West Coast IPA. The bar also features Carnival's signature ThirstyFrog Red as well as some cool canned crafts from other breweries. If you can't decide, order up a sampler of the house drafts, served on a wooden paddle. Other beers and drinks are available, and they're worth a try as they blend creativity with premium ingredients. Naturally, this barbecue joint offers a huge variety of bourbons, as well. Give the bacon Manhattan a try, made with bacon-fat-infused bourbon and garnished with candied bacon. (Yes, there's definitely a pig theme at this place.) The venue's signature drink, the smoked boulevardier, is worth ordering for the spectacle alone, as it involves a whole lotta stirring and rosemary smoke under a dome.
True beer aficionados -- or those with a casual beer interest -- will adore the brewery tour, offered on sea days. For a modest fee, you'll learn about the onboard brewing process, sample the beers and come away with a souvenir beer glass and a certificate of completion. (Yay, you!) Sign up quickly, as space is limited to 16 and the tours tend to fill fast.
You also can purchase souvenir glasses and stainless-steel growlers, which you can refill at the Brewhouse throughout your cruise. (Growlers cost about $50 full for the first one, and refills are less than $20 each time.) Seating is available indoors or out.
A small stage hosts live music in the evening; selections lean toward country and classic rock. The venue fills up when food service ends, and when the main theatre show finishes. While there is room to dance, we found that most people were content to simply watch the band and sing along. The bar also hosts the ship's naughty "adult game" as well as beer pong, where the competition is intense.
Piano Bar 88 (Deck 5, midship): The Piano Bar is a signature on Carnival's fleet of ships, where passengers gather late into the night singing along as a pianist plays, sings and jokes along with revellers. On Carnival Horizon, the bar includes seating around a piano as well as at tables with plush chairs. Red is the main colour here; lights, furniture, carpet and curtains are all red. Art of famous musicians, like Ray Charles and Elton John, adorn the walls. If you've been to a piano bar on land, you know the drill: Make a request via paper slips, and your song will be performed by singer/pianists who seem to have endless music catalogues memorized. (Giving a cash tip along with your request might help move your song to the top of the queue.) The bar opens in the evenings and stays open into the wee hours. On our sailing, the venue was fairly tame, with passengers drifting in and out. This might have something to do with the fact that the bar essentially makes up the back of steakhouse Fahrenheit 555, serving as background music for the restaurant. Doors are closed later at night, creating a more intimate bar space.
Havana Bar (Deck 5, aft): Definitely a favourite at night, Havana Bar is a beautiful space that has a distinctly Cuban theme, with faux tin ceilings, dark wood, bright mosaic tile and blue plantation shutters. (We love the tables set up for playing dominoes, a Cuban staple.) And there's plenty of music, mostly with a Latin flair, and lots of dancing well into the night. Not surprisingly, it's usually hopping once the sun goes down. Just don't try lighting up a cigar here; smoking isn't allowed.
Virtually any kind of drink is available here, including, of course, mojitos and Cuba Libres. You also can get traditional Cuban coffee here any time of day.
An adjacent outdoor bar is a little bit quieter at night. Until 7 p.m. each day, this outdoor area is closed off except to passengers staying in Havana cabins.
The Library Bar (Deck 5, midship): One of the best spots onboard for stealing away for a quiet glass of wine, the Library Bar -- with its self-service wine machine -- is an unusual and appreciated convenience. (If you're 21 or older, just swipe your card.) The library doubles as a game room, with a nice selection of games and puzzles tucked in among the books lining the shelves. You'll find comfy lounge chairs in the outdoor space adjacent to the Library Bar.
Plaza Bar (Deck 5, aft): The Plaza Bar is easy to miss; it's tucked away in the corner of Ocean Plaza. With only a few barstools, it's quiet and a good place to grab a quick drink without a long wait. Pick a libation, then duck out to the adjacent Plaza Outdoor Area. Or stick around to play trivia, regularly held in Ocean Plaza.
RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 10, midship): Along with the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the RedFrog Rum Bar is the busiest, most lively bar during the day (on sea days). It's located poolside and serves exactly what you'd expect on a cruise -- tropical, rum-based drinks like pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris and rum runners. Carnival Cruise Line's signature beer, ThirstyFrog Red, is also served here, and the daring can try it spiked with spiced rum. Unlike a lot of other cruise ship bars, where passengers order a drink and head back to the pool, people love to hang out here and soak up the atmosphere.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10, midship): Located on the main pool deck, BlueIguana Tequila Bar serves up slushy colorful drinks such as classic and strawberry margaritas. It also offers a number of crafty tequila cocktails and, of course, straight-up tequila, with a few higher-quality brands available for sipping, including Patron Reposado and Avion Silver. Mexican beers (think Corona, Sol or Tecate) are available, as are pitchers of spiked lemonade and nonalcoholic margaritas. You can pick up souvenir glasses here and at RedFrog Rum Bar -- and many passengers do -- as well as drinks by the yard.
Tides Bar (Deck 10, aft): The Tides Bar is a small bar located between the Seafood Shack and Pizzeria del Capitano. It serves the Tides Pool area and is open in the morning for those looking for an early pick-me-up.
Serenity Bar (Deck 15, forward): The Serenity Bar serves passengers relaxing in the adults-only Serenity area. It's a peaceful spot that is relatively quiet most days.
The main pool on Carnival Horizon is the Beach Pool, located on the Lido Deck, Deck 10, midship. It's fairly large and plenty deep, and on hot days, it's packed. Blue lounge chairs fill the deck around the pool. (These are taken quickly on sea days, so if you want prime real estate, you'll need to start sunning early.) You won't find much shade around the pool; your best bet for avoiding the sun here is at the tables near the RedFrog Rum Bar or BlueIguana Tequila Bar, which are under the overhang from Deck 11 above. Otherwise, you can try to grab a spot under one of two cabanas that actually sit in the water, so passengers can dip their feet while enjoying some drinks.
Tides Pool is also located on Deck 10 but at the rear of the ship. Two hot tubs are adjacent to the pool, and blue loungers surround it as well. The Tides Pool has better options for shade-seekers: Big red umbrellas provide relief from the sun. (The umbrellas are affixed to permanent holes in the deck, so they can't be moved. If you want an umbrella spot, you have to set yourself up around it, not the other way around. Umbrellas are taken down if it gets too windy.) Like the Beach Pool, space comes at a premium here, and you need to get there early if you want a spot, especially on sea days.
Available exclusively to Havana cabin passengers, the Havana Pool feels a bit like an oasis. It's got greenery and faux palm trees, a good amount of shade, two hot tubs, loungers, sunbeds and colourful wicker chairs. Havana cabin passengers must be at least 12, so the pool area also is more adult-oriented. Service here, from the adjacent Havana Bar, is excellent.
Pools are open until fairly late -- often until midnight. Carnival Horizon doesn't have a true kiddie pool, though the tykes will love the ship's splash zone. Children must be potty-trained to use any of the pools or water play areas.
Carnival Horizon has enough recreation options to keep you busy for weeks -- or at least a weeklong cruise. Best of all, it's all included in your cruise fare. The ship's splashiest option is the SkyRide, essentially an open-air capsule you pedal around a suspension track on Deck 14. The 800-foot course, which features inclines and declines, is best enjoyed while the ship is docked, as you get amazing views of the ports you visit. (That works out perfectly, as lines for the attraction grow long on sea days.) SkyRide features two tracks, so you can race your friends. SkyRiders must be at least 48 inches tall to ride.
Those seeking adventure need look no further than the SkyCourse ropes course. The course, 150 feet above the sea, actually offers two paths: one for beginners, and one for those looking for something a little more difficult. Both are fairly short but require climbers to move from platform to platform walking tightropes, clinging to rope webs and balancing on wobbly boards. You can switch between courses at any time during your jaunt should your skills not stand up to your bravado. It's safe fun (you're harnessed in) that gives you a great look at the ship's SportsSquare directly below.
The SportsSquare, on Deck 12, is a colourful game area that gives passengers the chance to play Twister, four-person Ping-Pong, billiards, and mini-golf, among others. It's as popular with adults as it is with kids, and it's a fun option for families. Indoors off the SportsSquare, you'll find more games, like a giant soccer version of billiards and a huge foosball table that can accommodate many players at once.
Two water slides are the centrepiece of Carnival Horizon's Dr. Seuss WaterWorks, a zany, wonderful spot designed for the young and the not-so-young. (Horizon is the only ship in Carnival's fleet to feature the Seuss-themed water park.) The Cat in the Hat slide -- it's more than 450 feet long -- sends riders down a twisty, turny trip while riding a tube. The entrance to the slide resembles the cat's famous red and white hat, a pattern that is repeated on the slide itself; some sections are translucent, others opaque. The second slide is the Fun Things slide, named after Thing 1 and Thing 2. The shorter of the slides, it is fully enclosed and features polka dots and lighting effects. (It's also the faster of the two slides.) The Dr. Seuss WaterWorks has a large kiddie splash zone that includes dozens of water spray toys. Larger-than-life Seuss characters, including the Grinch and the Cat himself, are mainstays of the water park, which also includes a 150-gallon dump bucket.
Horizon also features a SkyCourt, where passengers can play basketball, soccer or volleyball.
The best spot to get a dose of sun (or an appropriate amount of shade) is the Serenity Deck, a beautifully relaxing spot for adults only (the minimum age to relax here is 21). Located on the very top deck -- Deck 15 -- the space is gorgeously appointed, with sun beds, lounge chairs, hammocks and clamshells. You'll find faux palm trees and bright yellow umbrellas, along with some of the best views from the ship. (Don't be surprised if your relaxation in one of the two hot tubs here is momentarily interrupted by shutterbugs snapping away.) It's got its own bar and a fresh salad restaurant (open sea days), so you can stay put for as long as you want. It's away from the action of the Beach Pool area, so it really is quiet and far less busy.
Carnival Horizon has several other spots where people can relax under the sun. Deck 11 is ideal for people who want to be near the pool deck but away from the sometimes-frantic pace. Deck 11, whether midship or aft, has lounge chairs and tables with chairs all over. It also has a lot of options for shade, as much of it is covered by the overhang from Deck 12. You'll overlook the Beach Pool if you're midship. At the rear, overlooking the Tides Pool, are even more loungers along with umbrellas.
Deck 12 also has a sun deck, though smaller. It butts up against the Dr. Seuss WaterWorks space, which has colourful seats and umbrellas.
Deck 5 is Carnival Horizon's promenade deck, and you'll find lots of chairs and loungers here, too. The seating spaces form an outdoor extension of bars or restaurants, so you're never far from cocktails. During the day, passengers chill out, reading and having quiet conversation. At night, when the restaurants open, the space is open to diners.
Carnival Horizon's guest service desk is located on Deck 3, just off the atrium. This is also where you'll find the ship's shore excursion desk, called "Carnival Adventures." A number of shops, selling sundries, logo items, duty-free purchases, watches and the like are located on Decks 4 and 5. This includes passenger favourite, Cherry on Top, where you can buy bulk candy, including cute Carnival brand "whale tails."
Deck 5 also is home to the ship's library, which has a solid selection of books for reading while on your cruise. This space also is the ship's game room, where you'll find a variety of board games and cards along with plush chairs and sofas. Pixels Photo Gallery also is on Deck 5, and it's gone digital. Photographers onboard take lots of pictures of passengers throughout the cruise, and facial recognition software assigns it to the appropriate person. You can visit the gallery and swipe through the photos, purchasing any that appeal to you. You also can buy cameras and camera equipment here, including batteries and SD cards. Dream Studio also is located on Deck 5, right next to Pixels. Hire the ship's professional photographers for private photoshoots around the ship or even in port. Photo packages, providing passengers digital or print (or both) pictures are available.
A tiny internet cafe is next to the photo gallery. The ship offers Wi-Fi to purchase, so the cafe is lightly used. Three Wi-Fi plans are available: a Social plan that allows users to visit popular social media sites like Facebook WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat along with airline sites ($35 for a seven-night cruise); a Value plan, which adds sports, financial, weather and email sites to the Social plan ($16 a day or $84 for a seven-night cruise); and a Premium plan ($25 a day or $123 for a seven-night cruise), which includes virtually all sites, though streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu aren't covered. Plan fees are per device. Wi-Fi on our sailing was not lightning fast; in fact, it hung up even during times when we'd expect it to perform better, like late at night or when many passengers were in port. We're told the internet speeds will continue to improve.
Carnival Horizon also offers the fleet's only smart elevators. You pick what deck you're going to from outside the elevator, as opposed to inside. Then, a TV monitor tells you which elevator you should board to get to your destination. The elevator stops at the appropriate decks along the way. In theory, it eliminates overfull elevators that stop on every deck, squeezing in more and more passengers. In action, we found it mostly worked, especially on embarkation day, where two elevators were programmed to stop only on decks 3 (where passengers boarded) and 5 and 10, (where passengers could eat lunch). It was less effective when Horizon visited ports, and everyone was trying to leave at the same time. Anyone going in the opposite direction had long wait times.
Self-service laundry facilities are located on several decks throughout the ship. You can purchase detergent and fabric softener from machines. Bring along quarters -- or get them from guest services -- as washers and dryers only take change. Each launderette features an ironing board and clothes iron, which can be used for free. If you'd prefer to have someone do laundry for you, services are available at a per-bag cost. Fill out the form you'll find in your cabin and leave items in the bag provided.
An ATM is located near the shops on Deck 4. A medical centre is located on Deck 0. Purchase your next cruise at the future-cruise desk on Deck 10, forward.
The Cloud 9 Spa is a sprawling space that takes up a large amount of real estate on Decks 12 and 14. (There is no Deck 13 on Carnival Horizon.) The decor incorporates various shades of blue, with colourful tiles adorning floors and walls. Deck 12 features a Relaxation Room, where you'll wait, sipping tea or water, for your treatment. The spa complex has a men's and a women's locker room, each with a sauna, that can be used by anyone, free of charge.
The spa also features a good-sized Thermal Suite, featuring steam rooms (including aroma and hammam), dry heat chambers, experience showers and a large whirlpool. The only thing that's missing is a thalassotherapy pool, which would be a nice touch in the space. There also are nine heated ceramic lounge chairs, which were well-used on our cruise. The Thermal Suite is free to passengers staying in Cloud 9 Spa cabins but requires an additional fee for anyone else; passengers can purchase a daily pass or one that covers the cruise.
Treatment rooms are located on both decks and offer Elemis therapies such as hot-stone or deep-tissue massage, reflexology, antiaging facials and dry scrubs. Additionally, the medi-spa offers treatments including Botox or Restylane. Acupuncture and teeth whitening also are available. Treatments for couples include a massage duet, while men can get express shaves, deep cleansing grooming and guy-specific facials. Cloud 9 Spa also has a Z Spa menu for teens, which includes treatments like acne attack facials and invigorating body scrubs. Moms and daughters or fathers and sons also can enjoy massages together. Prices for massages start at around $150 for 50 minutes, while hair and nail services start at about $30 for a traditional manicure and $35 for hairstyling.
A salon is located on Deck 14 for services like manicures, pedicures, hair colouring, hair styling, waxing, lash extensions and keratin or phyto conditioning treatments.
The Cloud 9 fitness centre is located at the front of the ship on Deck 12, linked to the spa. While the views during your workout are spectacular, the gym is surprisingly small for a ship that carries nearly 4,000 passengers. When the fitness centre is busiest -- in the morning between roughly 8 and 10 and in the late afternoon ahead of dinner -- you'll likely have to wait for equipment. We found ourselves tripping over fellow gym-goers in the packed weight area, where we literally had to squeeze into equipment to avoid stepping on toes.
The fitness centre carries a range of cardiovascular equipment, such as treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines and stationary bikes. It also has a small array of LifeFitness weight machines as well as dumbbells up to 100 pounds. You won't find barbells, plates or racks for heavier lifting.
An aerobics studio is located in the middle of the gym, closed off from the rest of the activity. Here, you can take any number of fitness classes, including the fun RYDE spinning class, that has passengers hooked up to heart rate monitors, competing against themselves and one another. If you're not a fan of spinning, you can try out classes like boot camp or Pilates. These classes all have fees, starting at $12 and going up from there. (We found the per-class price is actually cheaper than what we'd pay at a gym on land.) While signup isn't required, many classes sell out fast -- some on the first day you board. So, if taking a class is important, visit the fitness centre when you first get onboard. Signup sheets for all classes that will take place during your cruise are available. Free classes covering things like stretching and Zumba take place throughout your cruise (usually held in the Atrium). These aren't as intense as the paid classes and offer a nice way to start your day. Personal training and nutrition consultation also are available, for a fee.
If working out outdoors is more your style, hit the jogging track on Deck 12. Seven laps make up a mile on this track that is shared by runners and walkers. It's busiest in the morning. To beat the crowds, go at sunrise or sunset and get the added bonus of great views. (It's OK to pause your workout to take a few pics.)
Also on Deck 12, adjacent to the SkyCourt, is an outdoor fitness area, called SkyFitness, where you'll find all-weather equipment such as elliptical trainers and bodyweight machines. We saw a few people incorporating them into their walking/running routines; others were just playing around.
Carnival Horizon has a good mix of restaurants, with both free and for-fee options. At lunch, passengers have lots of choices, with standards like the main dining room and buffet, but also a great Mongolian wok, fresh-made pasta, burger joint and burrito venue. At night, quality is noticeably better in the speciality restaurants than the included options, but dining service is great no matter where you choose to eat. Prices at most of the specialty restaurants are fair considering the quality of the dishes, and there's no such thing as a small meal onboard. While passengers with allergies or specific dining restrictions can be accommodated, they should notify the cruise line ahead of sailing and then repeat requests to the maitre d' onboard as well as to waiters and waitresses in each venue.
Meridian (Decks 3 and 4, aft) and Reflections (Deck 3, midship) Restaurants: Meridian and Reflections serve as Carnival Horizon's main dining rooms. Meridian is open for breakfast, brunch on sea days and dinner, while Reflections is only open for dinner. While dinner is the same at both restaurants, Meridian is the ship's option for flexible "Your Time" dining, at which passengers can eat anytime between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. During peak times, starting around 6:30 p.m., you might have to wait for a seat. We like that there's a sit-down bar near the entrance to make the wait more bearable.
Reflections is the ship's venue for assigned dining at night; passengers will sit at the same table each evening and have the same waiters at either 6 or 8:15 p.m. (Fixed dining requires signing up before you sail.) It relies heavily on red and black for its colour pattern, with modern geometric shapes and glossy dark tables with seating for two, four, six and more.
Like Reflections, Meridian is decorated in reds and blacks, with dark brown woods and a sweeping staircase, along with hip white box lights. It's a quiet respite from the madness of the Marketplace buffet for breakfast, and offers options such as eggs your way, yoghurt, cereal, pancakes, waffles, avocado toast, French toast and pastries galore. On sea days, it offers a brunch option, which includes tomato soup, bagels and lox, mac 'n' cheese, steak and eggs, omelettes, salmon or pancakes. Plus, a bloody mary bar!
Dinner comes in multiple courses, with options such as roasted tomato soup or fried calamari for appetizers, sweet and sour shrimp or honey-glazed pork loin for mains, and tiramisu or cheese plates for dessert. Give the warm chocolate melting cake a try; it's a Carnival staple and is decadently delicious. Certain items are available every day, including grilled chicken breast and steak, though that might change. Each dinner menu features a vegetarian option (which changes each night) as well as a "Rare Finds" option that might include braised ox tongue or cured salmon with candied tomato. Nightly menus also include a port of call section that identifies a cocktail, appetizer and main course inspired by the port or destination the ship is visiting. On "American Feast" nights, the dining tables get tablecloths and menus will include some fancier options, like lobster tails or filet mignon. (These nights coincide with formal dress nights.)
Ocean Plaza Buffet (Deck 5, midship): A small buffet just off Ocean Plaza, this spot (which officially has no name) serves up a variety of hot and cold dishes at breakfast and lunch on sea days. (Think eggs and croissants for breakfast, sandwiches and salads for lunch.) It's one of the best-kept secrets onboard for a quick, quiet meal.
Lido Marketplace (Deck 10, midship): The ship's buffet, Lido Marketplace, is an expansive space that feels intimate thanks to a clever design that creates the appearance of smaller rooms. Decor is festive, with canopies, umbrellas and faux trees strung with brightly coloured light fixtures. The Lido Marketplace is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, though hours vary.
Breakfast offerings include items such as eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, pastries, bread, toast, bagels, yoghurt, fresh fruit, and hot and cold cereal. An omelette station provides made-to-order eggs, and juice, water, hot and cold tea and coffee are available, gratis. The Lido Marketplace is always crowded at breakfast, but there is a solid amount of seating, both indoors and out.
At lunch and dinner, distinct stations are set up, with options such as the Comfort Kitchen (American favourites such as mac 'n' cheese and fried chicken) and Good Eats (pastas, steaks and grilled chicken, for example). Chef's Choice features a different international cuisine every day. You'll also find an elaborate salad bar, with numerous lettuces, toppings and dressings. Make sure to sample the burrata and fresh mozzarella cheese; both are made onboard and are delicious. A dessert bar offers an excellent range of sweets, including sugar-free options. Waiters and waitresses occasionally circulate to offer drinks; you'll also find some self-service beer stations.
Carnival Deli, positioned at the back of the Marketplace, serves sandwiches and wraps from late morning to late at night, with no pause, so if you need a between-meal meal, it's a good option. And then there's Swirls, for self-service ice cream and frozen yoghurt, open 24 hours a day. Late-night snacks are served from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Pizzeria del Capitano (Deck 10, aft): Open 24 hours, this self-service restaurant offers up five pizza options: margarita, mushroom, pepperoni, four cheese and prosciutto. Pizzas are available by the slice or by the pie, and gluten-free is available on request. All pizzas at Pizzeria del Capitano are thin-crust style, made in a traditional pizza oven. Table seating is indoors or out.
Guy's Burger Joint (Deck 10, midship): A restaurant created in partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri, Guy's Burger Joint is a staple on Carnival ships. At this casual grab-and-go eatery, you can get thick burgers along with crisp fries. Slather on sauce and load up on onions, tomatoes and mushrooms at the killer toppings bar. This open-air restaurant is always busy at lunchtime but especially so on sea days. Vegetarian burgers are available, but plan to give it a little extra time; they're made a la minute. Guy's is open for lunch only.
BlueIguana Cantina (Deck 10, midship): Located on the pool deck, BlueIguana Cantina serves up custom-made burritos for breakfast and lunch. The breakfast burritos are a great alternative to the busier Lido Marketplace. Fill your morning burrito with scrambled eggs, hash browns and cheese, and then top with options like crema fresca or tomatillo salsa. At lunch, choose from ingredients like chicken, pork, fish, rice, beans and peppers and have chefs stuff your wrap full -- lightning fast. The salsa bar has mild to hot options, with fun choices like watermelon and jicama, black bean and corn, or tomatillo salsa.
Mongolian Wok (Deck 12, aft): Open only for lunch, Mongolian Wok offers stir-fry options including rice noodles, veggies such as bok choy and Chinese cabbage, and meats like chicken, beef, calamari, pork, and mussels and clams. Fill out a form, and chefs will fry up your dish in woks. Pair your lunch with fried wontons or an Asian spring salad. You'll find Mongolian Wok inside JiJi.
The Pasta Bar (Deck 12, aft): Located in Cucina del Capitano, The Pasta Bar is open for lunch only. It's a nice relief from the crowds, as we found it less busy than other lunch options. It's a combo self-serve/full-service restaurant in that patrons fill out slips of paper with their picks. Pasta choices include linguine, farfalle, penne and gluten-free, and dishes are built from there, with options like mushrooms, onions, eggplant, shrimp and chicken. (There's also a meat lasagna that's worth sampling.) Add-ons include Caesar salad and garlic bread. Those who don't want to overdo it on carby deliciousness can opt for half-portions.
Fresh Creations (Deck 15, forward): Located in the Serenity deck area, Fresh Creations serves salads, but only on sea days. We're fans of this made-to-order salad bar that lets diners pick ingredients that are tossed into a fresh salad. Open only for lunch, you can choose from a huge variety of greens and then add in proteins like chicken or shrimp, along with toppings such as cucumbers, cheese, chia seeds, croutons and beans. If you can't decide, Fresh Creations offers a few suggestions, such as the Romaine Calm or Just Arugula Guy.
Room Service: Carnival Horizon has a fairly extensive room service menu, which has a small selection of included items as well as a larger section of for-fee options. Free choices include garden or Caesar salads, along with a number of sandwiches, including PB&J, grilled cheese and tuna salad. Desserts like cheesecake, cookies and chocolate cake also are included. For-fee options include chicken quesadillas, cheesesteaks and pizza. There's always a fee for orders made between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. A continental breakfast is available -- for free -- each morning except the last. Items include fruit, cereal, yoghurt, coffee and juice, and bread and pastries. While not required, slipping your room service delivery person a dollar or two is appreciated.
The Chef's Table (Deck 3, midship); $95: A real treat for foodies, The Chef's Table starts with Champagne and hors d'oeuvres in the galley (cruise-speak for "kitchen"). There, a chef greets your party, walks you through the food you're enjoying and kicks off a galley tour. This is a fascinating journey that gives you some insight on how cruise ships are able to keep up with the nonstop demand for hot, fresh food on a grand scale. The tour is followed by a dinner in the dedicated Chef's Table venue, which has floor-to-ceiling soundproof windows that overlook the galley, so you can watch the action while you dine (without being distracted by the noise of the kitchen). The meal is a multicourse extravaganza, with each course paired with house wine. The chef provides an explanation of each course. Plates are beautifully created, with presentation nearly as important as taste. Dishes might include dry-aged duck or a twisty take on surf and turf, where dinner guests are served a lobster bisque sphere with a side of beef tea. Menus rely on local and seasonal ingredients.
The Chef's Table is an experience designed for foodies. If you're a picky eater, you'll probably want to pass. The experience can accommodate 16 diners, and children 12 and older are permitted, though they'll drink soft drinks rather than wine. (There's no discount for kids.) Sign-up is required, and the earlier the better, as the exclusive experience tends to sell out.
Bonsai Sushi (Deck 5, midship); a la carte prices: Carnival Horizon's Japanese restaurant, Bonsai Sushi, is a light and bright space with high tables, a modern sushi bar and bonsai trees aplenty. The space is open, so you can see passersby while you dine (and vice versa). You also can dine outdoors.
The restaurant is open for dinner every night and lunch each sea day. Menus are the same at lunch and dinner, and include sushi rolls and sashimi, yakitori and noodle bowls. Prices start at around $2 for appetizers and sushi, with rolls at around $5. Bowls and meals start from $7. If you're adventurous, go for the omakase, which puts your meal in the chef's hands; he or she will make a series of dishes, just for you. Bento boxes and small plates are available.
Bonsai Teppanyaki (Deck 5, midship); $25 or $30: Exclusive to Carnival Horizon, Bonsai Teppanyaki is open for dinner each night. Tucked away inside Bonsai Sushi, the venue has two large hibachi grills around which eight people each can sit on tall chairs. Meals here are lively, with skilled chefs tossing around ingredients in front of hungry diners. Watching the chefs show off their knife skills is a ton of fun, especially in a group where you know your fellow diners. Quiet, it's not.
Your meal includes every appetizer on the menu, including teppanyaki shrimp with soy butter and pork belly yakitori. Entrees include lobster tail with yuzu cream or filet mignon. You'll pay $25 for some items (shrimp or black cod, for example), $30 for others (filet mignon or lobster). Save room for the bento box, which offers six mini desserts, including green tea ice cream and a chocolate-covered strawberry.
Because Bonsai Teppanyaki has room for only 16 diners at a time, reservations are encouraged. (On our cruise, passengers reported that the restaurant accommodated their party of nine, so there is some flexibility here.) Dinner offers three seatings each night: 5:30, 7:15 and 9.
Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse (Deck 5, midship); $38 for adults, $12 for kids: The ship's steakhouse, Fahrenheit 555 is a hip space decorated in shades of silver and burgundy. Live music filters in from the nearby piano bar until late in the evening, when doors are shut and the piano bar gets a bit busier. The restaurant has its own bar as well as an open kitchen, so you can watch as chefs prepare your slab-o-meat. At $35, it remains one of the best bargains at sea. The menu caters to steak lovers, but there are a few seafood and poultry options sprinkled in as well. Appetizer options include an excellent ahi tuna tartare, smoked raw oysters and a steakhouse staple, French onion soup. For mains, try the New York strip or ribeye, served with your choice of sauces. Sides include baked potatoes or sauteed mushrooms. For dessert, try "art at the table," where chefs create a sweet tableside masterpiece, topped off with giant globes of ice cream. Fahrenheit 555 also has an extensive wine menu.
There's outdoor seating as well. Fahrenheit 555 is open for dinner only.
Java Blue Cafe/Shake Spot (Deck 5, mid); a la carte prices: For your quick sugar or caffeine fix, head to Java Blue or the Shake Spot, both serving out of the same counter area on Deck 5. Java Blue offers a variety of speciality coffees and teas, as well as cakes, cupcakes, pastries and cookies, all priced a la carte. The selection of sweets rotates each day. This is also your spot for ordering cakes for occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. The shake spot offers milkshakes and floats, including boozy adult versions of the icy treats. The area has a few high-top tables for seating, but during the day -- and especially during the busiest period in the morning -- most people just grab their orders and leave.
Cherry on Top (Deck 5, forward); a la carte prices: Part store, part sweet shop, Cherry on Top is a colourful venue that offers bulk and packaged candy along with ice cream creations with tons of toppings. It's pretty much a sugar addict's dream, with items that will take you back to your childhood (think jawbreakers and candy buttons). There's seating indoors and outside for you to enjoy your sweets, and while the space is modern, it's reminiscent of an old-fashioned malt shop, with bright reds and chrome.
Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse (Deck 5, midship); a la carte prices: A welcome addition to the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse is a dedicated space on Carnival Horizon that offers up a variety of dishes by barbecue master chef (and hall of famer) Guy Fieri. Decorated with a giant pig sculpture, corrugated metal and barstools covered in faux cowhide, the space feels like a honky-tonk joint. On embarkation day and on sea days, the smokehouse is open for lunch, and it's complimentary. The barbecue buffet (actually located outside on the outdoor promenade) serves items like dry-rubbed pulled pork butt, slow-cooked beef and smoked andouille sausage. Sides included a wonderfully gooey mac 'n' cheese, collard greens and molasse baked beans (with killer burnt ends). Visit on embarkation day, before anyone else discovers it's open.
Dinner is a sit-down affair. Start with appetizers like trash can nachos, sriracha spicy chicken wings (a must!) or dragon chilli cheese fries. Entree items include cedar plank smoked salmon, full or half racks of baby back ribs and 18-hour beef brisket. Sides are pretty much the same as you'd get for lunch. Finish with banana cream pie, apple pie or a decadent pecan pie. Pair your barbecue with any of the craft beers, brewed right onboard. This was a favourite spot for dinner on our cruise, with some passengers visiting multiple times. It's a solid deal, with reasonably priced options. And while lunch is a great option, you do get an upgraded menu at dinner. Appetizers are $4, entrees are $8, side dishes are $2 and other options, including flatbreads, have a range from $6 to $16.
Seafood Shack (Deck 10, aft); a la carte prices: Tucked away in the back of the ship, near the Tides Pool, the Seafood Shack is open for lunch and dinner. Offering a variety of fried and steamed seafood options, this grab-and-go option has seating outside and in. Choose from items like lobster roll, New England clam chowder served in a bread bowl, fish and chips, and crabcake sliders. There's also steamed lobster, shrimp and crab, priced by the pound, as well as buckets of fried shrimp and clam strips. Prices start at $6. Steamed lobster, crab and shrimp are priced by the pound. While this is a well-visited spot onboard, the quality is just OK. Still, prices aren't prohibitively expensive, and it just might satisfy your craving for seafood.
Cucina del Capitano (Deck 11, aft); $15 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under: Cucina del Capitano is the ship's Italian restaurant. Open for dinner only, the restaurant is decorated with brick, dark wood and a faux tin ceiling. Photos of captains from past and present adorn the walls. Menu options stick mostly to the traditional Italian restaurant standards with appetizers such as antipasti and fried calamari and entrees like spaghetti and chicken Parmesan. Desserts stray from the norm a bit, with a coffee gelato and chocolate cookie option as well as an Italian take on apple pie, served with an incredible almond gelato. Cucina del Capitano offers a variety of wines as well, and coffees and liqueurs complete the meal.
JiJi Asian Kitchen (Deck 11, aft); $15 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under: JiJi Asian Kitchen has a subtle Asian vibe, with wooden screens and stylistic lighting. The menu, however, is Asian through and through. It draws on the tastes of China, the Philippines, Mongolia, Singapore and Indonesia. Appetizer options include slow-braised pork belly and chicken spring rolls, while entrees include peppered beef and kung pao chicken. There aren't many vegetarian options here, but the sweet and sour vegetables are a good bet. There's also sides of rice and noodle dishes, including a tasty Hakka-style noodle. For dessert, try the rose creme brulee.
Carnival Horizon offers cabin choices in spades, whether you're seeking comfortable and cosy interior space, family- and spa-themed options or suites. Just don't count on a ton of room in any category. Even the largest cabins onboard are only 345 square feet. That said, entry-level cabins start at 185 square feet, fairly large by industry standards, and all layouts take full advantage of every inch of space so you won't feel cramped. Cabins tend to be pretty basic, with few bells and whistles and little decoration. The ship's 1,980 cabins include 25 accessible rooms across all categories along with hundreds of connecting cabins ideal for family and group travel. Cabins can accommodate up to five people, depending on the configuration and location on the ship. The ship doesn't have cabins specifically designed for solo travellers, who likely will have to pay a premium, called a single supplement, for any room they choose.
All cabins on Carnival Horizon include beds, telephone, hair dryer, safe, unstocked mini-fridge, interactive flat-screen television and individual climate control. (We're not crazy about the hair dryer option, which is 1,200 watts and permanently affixed to the drawer in the desk. It also lacks a diffuser and requires you to hold the button the entire time you use it. If you're worried about hair-styling while sailing, we recommend packing your own.) Most cabins feature twin beds that can be combined for one king-sized bed, but a handful can't be converted and offer options such as two twins, a twin and an upper berth (where a bed lowers from the ceiling) or a twin plus convertible sofa bed.
Most cabins -- interior, outside and standard balcony -- are decorated in blues, yellows and oranges and feature medium-coloured wood-veneer furniture. Each of these cabins include a sofa and coffee table, desk with ottoman and mirror, nightstands, two closets and shelves. There's ample storage space for a weeklong cruise, though we would have liked a few more drawers for storing smaller items.
Flat-screen TVs include channels like Discovery and Cartoon Network, along with news and sports channels. On-demand movies are available, including a few free options. Each cabin has European and U.S. outlets and USB ports as well. These are located on the desk, near the mirror. Sadly, you won't find any bedside outlet or USB options, a missed opportunity as this has become a standard requirement for many modern travellers.
Bathrooms feature toilets, sinks/vanities flanked by small shelves and adequately sized showers with curtains (rather than glass or plastic doors) that stick to your body as soon as they get wet. Bathrobes and slippers are included, as are a few toiletries -- bar soaps, shampoo and shower gel. Bring your own conditioner.
Families have a number of cabin category options, including the ship's Family Harbor cabins. Most rooms can accommodate cribs, and a number of Deluxe Ocean View cabins across Decks 1, 2 and 3 have junior-sized bathtubs.
On our sailing, our cabin attendant the first day asked how we'd like our cabin to be taken care of: in the morning, in the evening or both (both being a standard on virtually every cruise line). We liked having the option and elected for morning-only service.
Interior: Horizon's standard interior cabins come in at 185 square feet and are available on virtually every deck across the ship. A handful of interior cabins, on Deck 10 at the front of the ship, are 220 square feet. While classified as interior, these cabins feature picture windows with obstructed views. Similarly, Horizon has a few interior cabins that have portholes; these also measure 220 square feet.
Oceanview: Ocean View cabins, those featuring picture windows, are either 185 or 220 square feet, depending on the location on the ship. These offer the addition of a third closet, so there's more than enough storage space even for longer cruises. This category also offers Deluxe Ocean View cabins, which are 230 square feet. These cabins offer two bathrooms each -- one with a tub/shower combination, the second with just a shower. Tubs, which are shorter than most standard tubs, are ideally sized for kids but not so much for adults. Deluxe Ocean View cabins can accommodate three to four people, depending on configuration.
Balcony: Carnival Horizon's balcony cabins measure 185 square feet, and all standard cabins in this category come with 35-square-foot balconies. Each balcony has two mesh chairs and a small metal table, big enough to hold a couple of drinks but not large enough to accommodate a meal. Cruisers travelling together in connecting cabins can request balcony dividers be removed to create one long shared balcony. Cove balcony cabins, all located on Deck 2, come with 45-square-foot balconies. Premium balcony cabins, located near the rear corners on Decks 6, 7 and 8, have 75-square-foot balconies. Premium balcony cabins on Decks 7 and 8 are ideal for group travel because, while the rooms themselves don't connect, they offer the option to share veranda space with cabins on either side.
Havana: Carnival Horizon's Cabana cabins are among our favourites at sea, in large part because passengers staying in these cabins have exclusive access to the Havana Pool (Deck 5) complex all cruise long. This means passengers staying here can avoid the crowds that hit the Lido Deck while enjoying private pool and hot tub time. Passengers staying in Havana cabins must be at least 12 years old.
Carnival calls the cabins in the Havana area "cabanas," and most are located on Deck 5, though a number can be found on Decks 6, 7, 8 and 9 as well. All cabanas have a Cuban feel when it comes to design, with bright turquoises and lime greens, plantation shutters and light wood tones. Photographs of Cuba serve as the artwork. Cabins also have their own exclusive "Havana Experience" bathrobes and bathroom amenities. Interior cabins are available -- at 185 square feet, the same as standard interiors. But our favourite cabin on Horizon is the Ocean View Stateroom with Patio Cabana. The interior is 185 square feet and pretty much the same as the standard balcony, but the patio -- at 100 square feet -- sets it apart. The patio, which includes a chair, padded lounge chair, hammock chair and table, faces the Havana section's private lanai -- an outdoor promenade exclusively for Havana passengers. A knee-high white metal fence separates the patio from the lanai, and passengers simply need to open a gate to walk out directly onto the promenade.
Four Havana Suites also are available. At 260 square feet, these suites each feature a room divider and curtain that can create separation between the bedroom and living area, which includes a sofa, chair, coffee table, desk and ottoman. Bathrooms feature dual sinks. These cabins have the same 100-square-foot patio configuration the Ocean View Staterooms have.
On Decks 6, 7, 8 and 9, you'll find Aft-View Extended Balcony cabins. These face the back of the ship and come in at 185 square feet. What sets them apart is the 75-square-foot balconies. For a real wow factor, book the Premium Vista Balcony category Havana cabana. These cabins have verandas that wrap around the corners of the ship and feel simply enormous.
Family Harbor: Passengers staying in the Family Harbor get exclusive access to the Family Harbor Lounge, a secluded spot on Deck 2. The lounge, decorated with a nautical theme heavy on navy blues and deep reds, offers families a dedicated concierge, large-screen TVs, family movies (plus popcorn!), video game consoles with games and movies available to check out and board games. (The concierge can handle tasks like registering the kids for youth programs or taking care of signup for Night Owls babysitting.) Families can also visit the lounge to grab a continental breakfast, snacks in the afternoon, and cookies and milk in the evenings. Frozen yoghurt and soft-serve ice cream are available in the lounge 24/7. Additionally, for families staying in the Family Harbor, kids under 12 eat free in most speciality restaurants, and one free evening of Night Owls babysitting service is included.
Cabins, all of which are located on Deck 2, are decorated in deep reds, bright whites and navy blues, with throw pillows and bed runners reminiscent of nautical flags. (We adore the buoy-shaped bedside lamps!) Families can choose from a variety of cabin categories, from interiors (185 square feet) that accommodate two people all the way up to suites that can hold five. Many of the Family Harbor cabins connect, so larger families can be accommodated as well. Family Harbor Deluxe Ocean View and Family Harbor Suites feature two bathrooms: one full bathroom with toilet, sink and shower and one featuring a small bathtub and sink.
The ship's 16 Family Harbor Suites are 275 square feet and have 65-square-foot balconies. They feature curtains that can separate living areas from sleeping areas, an especially handy feature when travelling with little ones with early bedtimes. Balconies include two patio chairs and a small table.
Cloud 9: Carnival Horizon has 98 cabins across multiple categories as well as six suites that give passengers access to a whole range of spa perks, including exclusive packages and discounts. Cabins are located on Decks 11, 12 and 14, and while the two-story spa is located on Decks 12 and 14, all passengers booked in Cloud 9 cabins are eligible for the perks. (Perks apply only to the first two adult passengers staying in each cabin.) Perhaps the best of the perks is full-cruise access to Carnival Horizon's thermal suite, which includes steam and dry heat chambers, a large whirlpool and two experience showers. Additionally, each passenger gets a scrub kit, two Pathway to Yoga or Pathway to Pilates classes, one body composition analysis, spa bathrobes and slippers for use during the cruise and a full range of Elemis bath products, including shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion and soap.
Decor for Cloud 9 Spa cabins is designed to be tranquil, with soothing marine blues and greens, and pastel yellows, along with light wood and soft finishes. Each suite, which accommodates a maximum of two people, includes a sofa, armchair and table as well as a walk-in closet. The bathroom has dual sinks and a jetted bathtub/shower combination.
Suites: Carnival Horizon features three categories of suites, all of which can accommodate two to four passengers, depending on category and configuration. Suite passengers are entitled to priority embarkation and debarkation in all ports, guaranteed main dining room preferences, priority tendering and a complimentary bag of laundry service per sailing.
Junior Suite: There are two Junior Suites on Carnival Horizon, both of them coming in at 275 square feet, with 35-square-foot balconies -- both of them obstructed by the ship's bulkheads. They're positioned over the bridge on Deck 9, and they feature windows that face a walkway open to other passengers, so foot traffic is fairly common here. (The windows are tinted so passersby can't see in.) Junior Suites can accommodate three people. Each has a good-sized seating area with convertible sofa and coffee table. They also have walk-in changing areas. Bathrooms have double sinks along with a shower/jetted tub combination.
Ocean Suite: Carnival Horizon's Ocean Suites measure 275 square feet with 65-square-foot balconies. There's a seating area with sofa, armchair, cocktail table and side table, plus a built-in entertainment centre. Bathrooms include dual sinks and jetted tub/shower combinations. Suites also have walk-in changing areas with closets and vanities.
(This category actually includes one cabin that is 450 square feet, available for passengers requiring a fully accessible room. This cabin has a 100-square-foot balcony.)
Grand Suite: Each of the ship's eight Grand Suites measures 345 square feet with an 85-square-foot balcony. The suite features a seating area with sectional couch and armchair, and a cocktail and end table, while the bed area includes a desk. The suite also features a good-sized walk-in dressing area with a vanity and makeup mirror, plus plenty of closet space. The bathroom includes dual sinks, a bidet and a jetted tub/shower combo. Balconies are surprisingly narrow; lounge chairs must be positioned sideways to fit.
Budget-conscious, gregarious families, couples and solos looking for an unpretentious vibe that's all about having fun
Anyone who doesn't appreciate off-color humor, lively hairy chest contests, burgers and BBQ, and thumping music
Carnival Cruise Line sells itself as the "fun" cruise line, and it attracts cruisers who are looking to have a good time with little to no pretensions. Carnival cruisers, who range from young to old, tend to be quite friendly, looking to strike up conversations with other people in the buffet, by the pool and, really, anywhere. Carnival is also one of the most family-oriented lines in the industry, and you're bound to see lots of kids onboard, even during the school year. When school is out, you can expect the number of kids to be well into the hundreds. The line is also popular for family reunions, and bachelor and bachelorette parties. People on Carnival cruise ships hail primarily from the United States, mainly the south and Midwest, but you'll also meet folks from Canada, England and usually a handful of other European countries.
Carnival cruises are casual, with shorts, tee shirts, capris, swimsuits or swim cover-ups de rigueur during the day (no bathing suites in the dining venues, however). Most nights the dress code remains much the same, minus the swimwear, though technically the cruise line asks that people not wear shorts into the main dining room. The policy is inconsistently upheld. On "elegant" nights, you'll see a range of clothing from ball gowns, dresses that leave little to the imagination, tuxes and suits to the same shorts and tees people sport all day long. Most men, however, opt for long trousers and collared shirts, while women don sundresses, or a skirt or trousers with a blouse. Men are not required to wear a suit jacket or tie in any venue.
No. While Carnival is one of the more inclusive cruise lines when it comes to dining, you will still have to pay extra for some specialty dining, all drinks (alcoholic and non, except water, select juice at breakfast, and coffee and tea), shore excursions, visits to the spa and any retail purchases, including photos.
Aside from the main pool, which is the hub of much of the line's fun activities, almost every Carnival cruise ship also has at least one waterslide, with several having multi-slide water parks. Additionally, several have a top-deck SportSquare that features a colourful collection of outdoor amusements, including Ping-Pong, billiards, foosball, mini-golf, Twister and a SkyCourse ropes course. On the line's newest ships (Vista and Horizon), there's also the SkyRide, a recumbent bike attraction suspended 150 feet up in the air, requiring riders to pedal their way around an 800-foot track that wraps around the outer decks. Inside, you'll find activities that range from trivia and Bingo during the day to comedy shows and high-tech song-and-dance revues at night. Carnival ships also have lively bar nightlife, especially on ships with a RedFrog Pub; there's also an always-busy casino.
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