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Carnival Horizon Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
388 Reviews

Beautiful new ship

Carnival Horizon Cruise Review by mizLORInj

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2018
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

Was so happy a new ship was coming to NYC!

Overall ship A+

Public spaces and décor A+

Cabin A+

Activities A

Food B

Entertainment B

Muster drill D

Arrived at NYC terminal for the quickest Carnival check-in ever—i-padlike devices before you go through Security. (if you’ve cruised on Anthem of the Seas—similar set up to the one at Cape Liberty). We then went to the back area where plat/diamond area was. Shortly after we sat down we were able to board this new ship.

Cabin. Lovely and pleasant décor. Love that the coffee table has a shelf for storage. Usual closet/cabinets with safe. Plenty of hangers. Fridge was warm and ended up getting replaced. Nice new bed with very comfy mattresses, pretty linens that have leaf embossing on them. Balcony had 2 chairs (one reclines)and a table. Still in perfect condition. Bathroom good size but please stop using those curtains! Sufficient storage shelves. Toilet is now more like a bucket—no “shelf”. That was the best description I could come up with. Nice soft new towels. Use your key card to power the room. They need to fix balcony doors so they don’t slam shut as it's annoying to feel the bang of these doors. Large tv on wall in front of the bed. It was cute how it said "Welcome [our names]" and then at the end said "Ciao [our names]. You can view your account, several views from cameras (bridge, port, starboard, and aft!) which we liked. Getting to your account was a little tricky with when to choose “OK” vs. the fwd arrow. How it showed our onboard credit was odd. Also, if you have a joint account it shows up inconsistently between the tv and on the Carnival Hub app. We went to GS and it was explained to us well by Jing, but it wasn’t intuitive.

I do not like being asked if I want cabin service in the morning or evening. Other cruise lines service twice per day as a given. I would have liked towels refreshed in the evening but felt bad because I figure Carnival has cut staff and given the cabin stewards more cabins to clean. Yet they have not decreased the daily service charge.

Guest Services needs to have more staff available when the line gets long.

Below us were Havana balcony cabins. Looked nice but I don’t like that everyone can look down on part of your “balcony” and also ahead of you is a glass wall much higher than a balcony wall. We looked in one of the Havana cabins on our deck and the décor is 4-poster bed and what seemed to be larger and bulkier dark furniture. There are “secret” stairways to take you to the Havana bar to the private Havana area, which although very nice, was small. 2 hot tubs and a very small pool. Comfy chairs and loungers and its own bar at the back of Havana club which is open to all guests after 7pm. It is a very nice area.

The lobby has this very cool 3 story “funnel” that has various colors and patterns that change. Lobby area is larger than some other Carnival ships we’ve sailed, so that was good. It is a very pretty area. There's also a cool colorful funnel in the casino area.

Spa. Listened to some of their treatment options but did not yield to their pressure to buy. Personally, being on a ship is my Bliss (Norwegian stole my term and named a ship after it!) so I don’t need any“youthing” treatments while on a cruise. The spa area was nice with 2 types of steam rooms, 1 dry, and 1 infrared room. Those tile heated lounge things looked cool and the mineral pool looked pristine. Gym looked very good too since everything was new. They offer organized classes—some include in fare, some not.

Library is very nice on this ship, with lots of books and games. I wish I remembered to bring my own already-read books to leave onboard. Piano bar looks larger than other ships and is very pretty. Steakhouse is also right in this area, along with Teppanyaki and Bonsai. Alchemy bar too which did not disappoint.

Pictures are all done on screens now. You select the pkg and can have them printed or digital. Continuing along this deck toward the stern is Java Café, and the Ocean Plaza, a very nice multi-purpose space. Bar there too where I had an Aperol Spritz or 2 or 3.

Outdoor seating and eating spaces are on this deck and are nicely setup. If you’ve been on Norwegian’s newer ships—think the Oceanfront area. Very similar.

Launderettes had very nice Speed Queen machines. You use your cruise card for payment.

We had your time dining (or whatever Carnival calls it). Checked in on deck 5 mid-ship and both times immediately received our table # and got seated. First time was at the stern and it was very warm, and next time was more forward in the dining room and it was very cold. So dress appropriately for dining—I will bring a wrap or jacket next time just in case. We had lobster as featured one night and It was good although the sizes of the tails varied greatly. Service was a bit slow, but we dinnered with 3 very nice and fun ladies so it was fine. The second time we were given a two top between other two-tops and we were very close together but it was ok. Strip loin was just ok, the short rib was fabulous. Beef lasagna and the spaghetti carbonara were very good. We also had sea day brunch in Meridian, the aft dining room which was where we had dinner. No popovers! The chicken diavolo did not disappoint. I had to have the froot loop french toast too. Drinks (used our free drink coupon) took over 30 minutes and by that time were watered down.

Mongolian Grill is now a sit-down restaurant called Ji-Ji above the Lido Marketplace. Included in fare for lunch and upcharge for dinner. You sit down and fill out a paper to select your food and then it gets made for you. I made the mistake of choosing noodles with my long list of veggies, and the bowl that came out was 90% noodles. Next time I will choose veg only. AND it’s under the basketball court and yes we heard basketballs bouncing. Not sure that would be pleasant at a long meal.

Didn't try the Italian place but the menu looked good.

Pizza. Finally after many long long lines there, on the last sea day they had two people working the stand and made lots of pizzas, so the line built up but then moved quickly as the ready-made pizza was served. There has got to be a better system. I remember when the pizza was ready and there were rarely lines there.

Seafood Shack is also at the stern. Sometimes had a line, sometimes not. We tried the lobster roll on Victory and I didn’t wish to bother againpaying for something that was just ok.

Lido Marketplace. Buffet is now in two sections. There are islands that all contain bins of the same food on each island. A salad bar is separate, as is the sandwich station (Deli) which was always under-manned and had lines. That moved very slowly. Why do they have those beautiful and tasty chocolate cookies at this station! They should be more easily accessible. Dessert station is separate.

Chocolate extravaganza is nothing like it was in past years. The chocolate cakes were good though (at the Lido Marketplace) and rivaled the one you pay $2.25 a slice for at the Java Café.

Didn’t eat at Guy’s burger or Blue iguana but why do they close at 6?

Guy’s Pig & Anchor was not open embarkation day for lunch, but we ate there the first sea day. It’s set up outside and as a buffet with a line from either side. It was very good food. We found a table outside on one of the little half moons that stick out of the deck. This restaurant/bar had a lot of whisky choices. We did a beer flight which was good, as was their seasonal beer.

There was food at the Ocean Plaza area too. Trivia was held here too which is a nice large space.

Tea Time was offered on both sea days. I went just to see if they offered any unique or at least different than the Lipton black and Bigelow green tea in the buffet. Nope. Same 2. So I left. I did see cuke sandwiches being served, andalso a cart with desserts on it.

Outdoor movie screen had movies, but we didn’t get to any on this short cruise. I love outdoor movies on ships.

We rode the Sky Ride and it was fun. There was a line but it moved rather quickly and the ride itself was fun. The wind helped push me along a lot of the time.

We went to the Cruise Next location but apparently the Carnival staff did not have it on their schedule, so by the time the person showed up we only got to hear a little before leaving for our next event—a 3D movie. Too bad as I enjoy hearing about new itineraries and ships. She started out w/ talk about their credit card instead of ship info, so we didn’t get to hear much other than which ships are based in which US ports.

We went to the Imax theater to see the National Parks 3D. It was $5.50 per person. Excellent film. Showed various films during the trip.

Lots of sundecks and attractive seating areas all around the ship.

Serenity adults-only area is at the front of the ship and was very nice. Away from the loudness of the pool area.

Lots of decks have forward open space, including deck 5 Promenade deck. Loved being outside at the front of the ship. You cannot go all the way around though as Havana pool and private area is at the stern on this deck.

Liquid Lounge is attractively decorated but seems small for a ship this size. And the top level was freezing cold. After freezing in seats in the top level at the Welcome Aboard show, we chose lower level seats for the Vintage show which was interesting. The music was very good.

Comedy. Seems the thing to do these days is turn on the house lights and wander the audience talking to and picking on people. This happened twice. When it started at the second show we went to, we left. The Disco trivia and party was going on in the lobby at the same time and we should have just gone to that as it was very fun and entertaining.

Muster Drill. Carnival please get it together. Longest muster ever and quite disorganized. First piece of advice: look on the back of your cabin door to see where your muster station is. We heard employees being asked and some just didn’t know which muster was where. Fortunately we knew we were on deck 3 Meridian dining room. FunTimes said 3pm so people started assembling, we arrived around 3:15 but it was then 3:30 and nothing was happening yet. I think we started at 3:45, but it was waiting and waiting. Apparently people were not checked in (cruise card get scanned). Carnival, you know who they are so make them attend the make-up one and don’t keep us sitting there for so long. PLEASE work on this. Send employees on other cruise lines like Norwegian and RC and see how expeditious and efficient theirs are 99% of the time.

Smoking on balconies. Sigh. Now this is mentioned during muster: “Fire at sea”. . . “no smoking in staterooms or on balconies.” This is not sufficient. At the Welcome Aboard show the CD said 48% were first time Carnival cruisers, so maybe some did not hear this at muster. It was either Norwegian or Royal Caribbean in the last year where the announcer said “let me repeat that” and said no smoking in cabins or balconies again for emphasis. Which is a great idea. But we could not fully enjoy our balcony due to cigarette smoke that happened way more often that I could comfortably tolerate. The last sea day it was constant unfortunately. Although I did leave a note for the cabin steward that there was smoking on balconies nearby, if I could pinpoint where it was coming from I would have reported it to Guest Services. There are cameras everywhere so I’m surprised they don’t notice puffs of smoke from balconies. I do think some people just don’t know smoking is prohibited, but I realize that some do know and do it anyway. Surprised that Carnival doesn’t do more about this considering they had a fire on a balcony from a flicked cigarette on Sunshine in 2016 (on a cruise right before we got on). Other lines take this seriously; on Royal Caribbean you get a notice on your door immediately. People other than me need to speak up if smoke is bothering you while on your balcony; I cannot be the only person who did not enjoy the smoke on this cruise.

New elevator system. Ugh. Not working well. You choose your floor from a screen and the screen tells you which elevator to wait at. And wait. And wait. We ended up doing a lot of stairs—which is not a bad thing—but not easy with a cocktail or tea in your hand. Many passengers were quite frustrated by the elevators.

Sailing out of NYC port is always great as the ride down the Hudson is lovely.

Platinum gift was headphones.

Bermuda is beautiful and the water was so calm it was shiny. We seemed to do a very slow 180 degree turn to dock. This was the first time Horizon was porting there. Tug “Faithful” was standing by to assist. I don’t know where her sister “Powerful” was. (those who’ve been to Bermuda know these are the 2 tugboats). Seemed to be a very long time to get cleared to debark, and as a result, there were long line in the stairwells. Continued on our way and we took the $7shuttle to Horseshoe beach. This time I actually could see the pink sand which I guess I just never noticed before. Fabulous warm and sunny day. 2 chairs and an umbrella cost $45 to rent here. Headed back to the ship mid-afternoon on a shuttle bus. Wandered around the port area a bit. You can get wifi at many places there.

The last day at sea had a mix of weather but it was enjoyable anyway(minus the cig smoke).

We stopped at the channel outside NY harbor for the pilot to board just after 3:30am. We were at the dock with lines tied by 6:15 or so. Went to the appointed location for platinum/diamond for debarkation. Interesting system where you line up your luggage in order of your arrival and then go sit down. We waited till around 6:45 and then lined up with our luggage and walked off after swiping our card for the last time. Fort those who may not know, there is a lot of walking involved at the NYC port. You debark forward but walk to the end of the terminal to go in, down an elevator or escalator and then walk forward again for customs/immigration, then exit. It was quick and easy to get to the taxi line. No more customs cards unless you’re over the allowance.

The ship is really beautiful. If you’re going on Horizon, ENJOY!!!

Notes to Carnival in case you read this: 1. Please fix balcony doors not to slam. 2. Please get the muster drill together better. 3. Please do more to ensure smoking is truly prohibited on the balcony. 4. New elevator system not so great--needs more instructions.

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