Notes for our Carnival Horizon
Our 8th crossing...
our 78th Cruise with multiple cruise lines.
Booking and Air
We booked this Maiden transatlantic of the Horizon looking forward to enjoying sea days on the newest ship in the Carnival fleet. Fortunately, Carnival had very reasonable pricing for our flights on United from Newark to Barcelona.
Our flight departed Newark about 3 hrs. late, but the airplane seating, crew and experience itself was great. We arrived in Barcelona followed the crowd to immigration, picked up our luggage and headed to the baggage exit.
Finding the Carnival representative was NOT easy. We had to ask several other cruise reps where we might find Carnival agents. After finding them, we stapled our pre-printed Carnival luggage tags to each piece, dropped them off with the Carnival porters and were directed to seats nearby.
The process took about an hour with what we thought was check in at the airport (not).... the bus ride was about 30 minutes... after which we had to answer the same information once we arrived at the port terminal.
As Platinum VIFP we were promptly led to the sign in desk and ready to board...however, we learned the we could bring our own wine and alcohol! The terminal has an extensive duty free selection of wine at reasonable prices, so we purchased a few bottles for the cabin.
Boarding was fast, but the small, smart elevators caused long lines once on the ship as we waited our turn to go from deck 3 to our deck 6. Many angry guests could not imagine why it was taking so long! After about 20 minutes, we reached our cabin, 6461.
We freshened up, checked the refrigerator only to find it was not working...we needed it fixed or replaced. (The 3rd replacement worked)
The room and closet space were adequate, the extra long veranda however, was very narrow! Those sailing in warm weather would find it difficult to relax on the veranda with outstretched legs unless each chair was set on a 45 degree angle.
The bathroom had a shower curtain and decor was in the retro old style and colors, it lacked enough space to keep toiletries conveniently nearby. No night light, no typical amenities such as body lotion, or shampoo conditioner... only shampoo and body wash dispensers in the shower.
The one phone in the cabin was on the desk, as were the only 2 - 110v electrical 1 - 220v and 2 USB outlets. Again, not convenient to the bed or well thought out.
We briefly met our cabin attendant, Daniel who asked if we wanted 1 or 2 make ups daily.... duh.
We told him twice daily please. He and his partner Jelena were great at keeping the cabin tidy, clean and constantly filled our jumbo ice bucket! Off to lunch at the Lido Marketplace on deck 10, aft. Loved the layout, easy to find seating, several sections (front, mid and aft) each with much the same buffet selections, allowing for comfortable self service and finding tables. Many tables for 2, several up to 8. Liked the variety, happy with the quality, taste and prompt availability of whatever seems missing, just for the asking... (smoked salmon and poached eggs) in the morning. Never a food complaint in the Marketplace. Getting tables cleaned promptly was however, a challenge. Note: cookies are rare, and sugar free cookies never. Selection limited for all deserts, lines of 10 or more common. Need self service ... and additional sugar free deserts for those whose diet demands. Following lunch, we visited the maître D to change our dining time and table. Then it was time for the muster drill. Dinner was early 6PM at table 745. A lovely location, at the aft with a view of the ocean set for 4, our waiter and assistants were fabulous, the food was however, mediocre, never very hot, not up to our Carnival expectations (had always been better than other lines). Not a complaint, rather an observation.
Usually after dinner, we would visit the casino! Not so on Horizon! The smell of smoke was unbearable despite Pierre’s (Hotel mgr.) assurance otherwise. He went into great detail at our Cruise Critic mtg about how much better the casino air filtration system was and how much effort and money went into making it so. Apparently it needs more effort, money or repair! Many guests we met had the same comment.
Back to food..
Tried the Guys Hamburgers... they are absolutely delicious, fast service and excellent selection of toppings make for a great lunch.
The BBQ was a disappointment... perhaps our expectations were set too high... long lines, hard to find tables, fatty ribs.. we found ourselves headed back to the Marketplace to finish lunch.
The Seafood Shack is worth the few dollars extra. We shared a lunch combo platter (10.00. We are able to substitute clam strips for calamari, added shrimp, scallops, battered cod and fries. Plenty to share, all fried, all hot and delicious. Place your order, get notification via assigned buzzer when ready, pick up your meal and take back to a table in Marketplace.
The ship itself is not your typical Carnival décor. It's very attractive, just no glitz or glitter we are accustomed to. A guest we met said "there's no WOW factor". We were pleased with the extensive use of warm woods, glass and more "conservative" interiors..
Smart elevators ... good, but hard to get used to.
More like some high rise buildings in metro cities, these are very efficient, but you need to indicate where you intend to go BEFORE entering the elevator, as there an NO buttons inside the elevator.
You do this by approaching a pedestal, then touching the 6" X 10" display screen with the deck number you want to get to. The display then shows and sounds an Alpha Letters (A, B, C etc.) which elevator to use for that request.
On most decks there's also a large display screen near the elevator bank with info. about which elevator will will stop on which decks etc.
Frustrating at first, however, takes getting used to..
TV at seas, it's incredible how good the reception actually is. Just wish there were US stations. We had BBC, CNN international Sky News, CNBC etc.
Great selection of movies... many are included, a few of the LATEST are priced at 4.99.
Interactive menu lacks music channels, ship info. is minimal (ship camera, speed and depth, sunrise, sunset only) Would like temperature, wave heights and wind info.. Would also be nice if we could order room service ... perhaps this is coming.
Veranda - Best said... this is a ship built for warm weather and outdoor activities. As such, our Veranda while longer than most, is so narrow as to make it impossible to pass when someone is using a lounge chair with legs extended.
Theater - Liquid Lounge is MUCH too small, difficult to see stage from many seats, no pitch to the floor, so it's hard to see over guests seated in front of you.
IMAX - Great experience, excellent selection, worth the small surcharge.
Crew - Outstanding.. obviously these are selected for their experience and have been trained well. Always a smile, always do their very best to satisfy the guest.
Dining Room - Moving away from the open, no division between sections, each area is a bit more defined a bit quieter than typical. There were however, NO table cloths, (except for formal nights), and the tables themselves are fairly close to each other making any privacy impossible.
Overall, we had a pleasant cruise, we would do it again (if they offer another transatlantic).
NOT a cold weather ship!!
Not enough space at the indoor venues for games, cards, mahjong etc. when everyone is "indoors".
Well coordinated - moved quickly.
Note that customs declaration forms were not required UNLESS you had to something to declare.
Hard to find porters in the luggage area. Lines waiting to get one as they returned to the terminal.
Only other comment has really to do with the Carnival VFIP program.
Just not very competitive with most others. Would love if they added things like some free wifi, 2 coupon drinks per day, etc. at Platinum level.
Love the laundry perk, boarding priority, private phone contact and Platinum Line at Guest Services.