Horizon Cruise Review by skeanie
The Horizon's itinerary was sent to us via email by our cruise organizer. It indicated that the cruise's port of origin was Trieste, Italy and the first port of call would be Venice. We arranged an "open-jaw" flight from Toronto to Venice, returning to Toronto from Athens, and a one-way car rental to Trieste. It didn't register on me when we received the itinerary that there was no exact location given for embarkation in Trieste - I assumed that there would be one and only one cruise ship terminal. Trieste, as it turns out, has many piers or "Molos" spanning a distance on the waterfront of over 3 kilometres. After dropping off our keys at the car rental agency's location on Molo 4 near the northeast end of the waterfront, we first checked Molo 4 for signs of our ship. No luck, so we started dragging our luggage in 30 degrees celsius southwest towards the other Molos, becoming increasingly concerned that there was no sign of our ship anywhere, nor any sign of other people looking as lost as us. We eventually reached the ferry terminal at the southwest end of the waterfront and realized that the Horizon was not in Trieste. This was confirmed by a helpful taxi driver who got in touch with his dispatcher. The taxi driver struggled with English to tell us that the Horizon was in Venice. We were confused, exhausted and becoming desperate, since we were now approaching the boarding deadline. We took the taxi back to the main piazza and sent an email to our cruise organizer, explaining our circumstances. She responded to our email, confirming that due to "mechanical issues" the ship was in fact no longer departing from Trieste, and that Pullmantur was transporting passengers by bus from Trieste to Venice. She recommended that we try to find the Pullmantur representatives. At this point we were exhausted, and couldn't imagine having to race back and forth across the waterfront looking for Pullmantur reps. I walked back over to the Trieste Terminal Passegiere and verified that there was nobody there from Pullmantur. At this point, still working with very little information, we reluctantly decided to take a taxi from Trieste to Venice. The taxi driver got us back to Venice quickly and we were finally able to board the Horizon, but it cost us 265 euros. Altogether, the pointless and exhausting round trip from Venice to Trieste cost us over $600 Canadian, including the cost of our car rental, diesel, tolls and taxi fares. Following our cruise organizer agent's advice, we talked to the Horizon guest services staff about obtaining compensation, and were told to complete a claim form. We did so, and were told 2 days later that "regrettably" they couldn't do anything for us. The desk manager told us that our cruise organizer had been notified of the itinerary change, and suggested that we submit a claim to the cruise organizer. Our agent in turn told us that they had been notified by Pullmantur, but only after they had already found out from other passengers what was happening. We were not the only people affected by this problem. Rob Goldstone (yes, *the* Rob Goldstone) was also left hanging, as were a couple from Melbourne and our dinner table companions from Vancouver. I will follow through with submitting the claim via the cruise organizer, but I'm not optimistic that anything more than finger pointing will result.
The cruise was otherwise nice. The ports of call were all top-notch. We didn't opt for any of the ship's excursions, since the passengers on the ship were predominantly Spanish-speaking and we were told that English would only be offered if at least 10 people on the tour required it. So we basically did our own thing in each port, which was good since it was undoubtedly cheaper to do so and allowed us to move at our own pace. Meals on the ship were of reasonable but not outstanding quality. The restaurant and bar staff and cabin attendants were attentive and pleasant. The unlimited drinks that were included in the price were of decent enough quality that we felt no need to upgrade. We saw only one of the evening shows, an Abba tribute on the last night. It was good enough that we regretted not having attended more performances. Be aware that if you don't speak Spanish, you may feel a bit out of place on this ship..
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Our cabin had 2 twin beds and felt roomy enough. There was ample closet and drawer space, but the room safe didn't work. We discovered after several days that the poor TV reception could be remedied by jiggling with the cable connection. We found it worth bringing our own water, since there was a charge of 2 euros per bottle.
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