Recently, I returned to Carnival Cruise Lines from a three year stint on Royal Caribbean. I was seduced by RCCL's mega ships, the quality of their entertainment and the novelty of their gorgeous mega ships. However, RCCL lacks ... Read More
Recently, I returned to Carnival Cruise Lines from a three year stint on Royal Caribbean. I was seduced by RCCL's mega ships, the quality of their entertainment and the novelty of their gorgeous mega ships. However, RCCL lacks something that Carnival has in spades - FRIENDLINESS and Horizon is no different. I'm a solo cruiser and on RCCL, I was very much alone. The staff at the dining rooms never even sat me with anyone else! On Horizon, I met friends on the first day during a tour of the spa and while I had dinner with them most nights, when I didn't, the staff at the dining rooms made sure I was sat with friendly people unless I asked to be alone.
Embarkation: This process was not smooth. I had a check-in time of 12:30-1:00. When I arrived at the cruiseport via Carnival shuttle, I had already been checked in at the airport. Thank God! Because the lines to get in were ridiculous. I would have missed my check-in window by hours. When we got to the port, since we were already checked in at the airport, we were ushered through to a line to go through security. I was not happy about being yelled out to hurry up. The staff overseeing embarkation were clearly under a great deal of stress and were taking it out on the embarking passengers! Not cool, Carnival - not cool!
I finally got onto the ship and it's a beauty. The Atrium was beautiful and friendly crew were selling lovely drinks.
Elevators: One thing you should YouTube is how to use the elevators. They are very different from anything else I've ever seen and the first day was not pretty! They had a couple of elevators going to the Lido deck for lunch and a couple going to rooms. There was a long long and again - the staff was stressed out by complaining cruisers (I'm sorry to say I was one.) Please know that after Day 1, the elevators actually work really great. However, I kept reaching for buttons inside that were not there! A bit unnerving.
Cabin: I had a Spa Balcony on Deck 11 and it was beautiful! I really enjoyed that cabin. I had a slight issue with a urine smell in the bathroom, but I left a note for the room steward and it was taken care of immediately. The cabin was spacious (as cabins go) and the balcony just awesome. The room was clean and well taken care of. One thing I do have a huge complaint about is the TV. It wasn't working right. The picture made everything look like an old movie. I did not complain to anyone, so I have no idea what they would have done had I mentioned it. But the worst thing was the lack of content! I think they had TBS and one other channel, some cartoons and that's about it except for cruise advertising channels. Very disappointing. I know most people don't spend much time in their rooms, but I like to kick back at night sometimes and RCCL has many stations and movies available. I really wish Carnival would up their TV game. There were some good movies available for a small fee and some for free. I like how RCCL has movies playing all the time 24 hours a day. Carnival, please improve this. If I hadn't loaded my iPad with NetFlix movies, I would really have been bummed.
Steward: The steward cleaned my room every morning, kept me in ice, which I told him I liked when I first boarded, however, he wasn't the friendliest person. He was perfectly nice, but took absolutely no interest in me. On past Carnival cruises, the room steward became my friend. He was there at the beginning of my day and toward the end ever day, asking me if I needed anything, asking me about my day, where I came from, etc. This room steward - nothing. Just polite smiles and that's it. And his tip reflected that.
Dining: Fantastic! I had the Java Cafe, which was more formal than it sounded, with My Time dining, which worked perfectly even without reservations (much different than RCCL, where I got a stern lecture on making reservations (jerks)). I only ate there one night, after which I either met my new Aussie friends for dinner at the other dining room reserved for My Time or went to a specialty restaurant. The food and presentation were amazing. I have mixed emotions about showtime. Some nights I had the energy to participate and some nights I was just tired from a full day and just wanted quiet and dinner. I highly recommend a trip to the Steak House! It is totally worth the price. You're treated like royalty and the food is mouth watering from beginning to end. I'm planning on going back for my next cruise in March.
I heard a nightmare story about guest services messing up people's cruise accounts, so keep a close eye on that. Being the only person in my room, there was no way they could mess it up.
Do yourself a favor and download the Carnival Hub app. It shows you everything that's going on around the ship, you can make dinner reservations, sign up for shows, etc. It also has a chat feature for $5. Gone are the days of looking all over the place for your friends - old and new! YAY!
Spa: Carnival has one of the best spas at sea and Horizon was no different. I love the new saunas, but I don't like the way the thalasotherapy pool is right in the middle of the thermal suite with no privacy (like on Carnival Breeze where it is set aside in its own room). There were not enough heated, tiled divans and people were saving them (a habit I can't stand!). Otherwise, if you don't have a spa cabin, I recommend a day or week pass for the thermal suite, which has a beautiful view of the ocean while you relax.
The Theater: I was very disappointed in Horizons theater. Other ships have couch style seating with small tables, however Horizons Liquid Lounge just has chairs. It's tacky and messy looking. Carnival - WHY?? The show I went to was with electric violins and the whole theater was set up looking like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Best - this was one of the BEST shows I've ever seen.
Karaoke - get there early or you won't be singing - like an hour early! I never got to sing Karaoke during my trip on the Horizon. During some of the 18+, there were many children under 18 who were allowed to take up the few spots there were. The contest was randomly picked instead of picking from among the best singers. Disappointing. They need a new Karaoke DJ on that ship as the one working it was not personable, did not interact with the crowd, did not sing and did not enforce the age restriction rules.
In St. Kitts, I went on the Fan-ta-Sea excursion. The crew was fantastic, the boat was beautiful as was the scenery. I highly recommend this excursion. It is pricey, but you get first class service. These guys worked so hard for us. They were friendly, entertaining and danced with us all the way home. Remember to bring cash to tip them, because you will want to after this excursion. The food was also very good. I saw a lot of sparkly fish, a ship wreck and a giant barracuda. I also saw a couple of really cool puffer fish. This is a long day. The rum punch is excellent and the beach they took us to gorgeous. I was constantly in awe of the beautiful scenery. The crew was happy to answer questions about the distant islands, etc. Oh, and this is just a short walk from the pier, which is always a plus. They did not stop to pick up any other people - straight to the catamaran, a short briefing and then away we went.
Overall, the Horizon was beautiful and her crew friendly. I've mentioned a couple of things that disappointed me, like the theater, my room steward's general invisibility, and the TV, but I had the best time of my life! Read Less