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 colors, 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 the Carnival Horizon cruise, 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 specialty restaurants include reduced prices for kids under 12.
With a maximum capacity of almost 4,000 passengers and over 1,000 feet in length, Carnival Horizon is a big ship, but its deck plans are well designed. 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, colorful 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.)
Entertainment venues and restaurants are spread over several decks, which is great for avoiding high concentrations of passengers at any single spot. The downside is that this places many rooms and suites on Carnival Horizon in the ‘cabins to avoid’ category, as some get noise from below as well as from above. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the most sought-after cabins on Carnival Horizon are the Havana Cabanas, which have Cuban-style décor and lovely outdoor spaces overlooking a private lanai for Havana-category passengers.
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.
While it may lack the roller coaster and impressive waterslides of its newer sister cruise Mardi Gras, Carnival Horizon doesn’t fall short on entertainment either – plus it’s in great shape for its age (it was built in 2018). Among the most fun things to do on Carnival Horizon are the SkyRide capsule ride, Dr. Seuss’ WaterWorks waterpark, the IMAX movies, and SportSquare, with mini-golf and other family-friendly sports options. Those looking for some peace and quiet will prefer the adult-only Serenity Deck, complete with whirlpools and a bar.
Carnival Cruise Line requires full vaccination for those 5 and older on Horizon sailings from Miami. Within the limits of the CDC's definition of a "vaccinated" cruise consisting of 95 percent all passengers and crew, vaccination exemptions are possible with preapproval, including for children.
Unvaccinated adults must have travel insurance in place that meets the line's requirements ($10,000 medical/$30,000 emergency evacuation with no COVID-19 exception.) Children of all ages are welcome but must be preapproved if unvaccinated.
Carnival ships are sailing with reduced overall capacity, currently around 70 per cent.
· Proof of completed vaccination at least 14 days prior to sailing for over-5s
· Negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of embarkation for vaccinated passengers 2 and older (48 hours for unvaccinated passengers)
· COVID-19 insurance for unvaccinated guests age 12 and over
· Pre-embarkation online health questionnaire
· Online check-in and arrival appointment required
· Masks required for all guests over age 2 during the entire embarkation and debarkation process, and while on any form of transportation
· Masks are no longer required in most areas of the ships. Passengers will need to wear a mask in the medical center, during embarkation and disembarkation at the home port and during port calls and on transportation, such as water shuttles and indoors on any Carnival tour. Local regulations may also require wearing of masks.
· Additional screenings, testing, and contact tracing as needed
· No capacity limits in bars or restaurants
· Cabin service once daily (rather than twice), with guests allowed to choose morning or evening
· Bar and restaurant menus, The Fun Times, and safety drill are provided via QR codes and the Hub App
· Sanitizing and hand-washing stations all over the ship
· No supervised Camp Ocean children's activities for unvaccinated children ages 5 to 11.
Off the ship
Vaccinated guests may participate in Carnival operated tours or explore independently.
· All meals in the two main dining rooms, Lido Marketplace buffet, pizzeria, Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and select room service items
· All shows in the main theatre, as well as Punchliner Comedy performances, nightly live music sessions and deck parties
· Use of the water park, ropes course, sports square, sports court and mini-golf
· Use of the fitness center in the Cloud 9 Spa, excluding classes or training sessions
· Most daily activities onboard unless noted below
· Use of the adults-only Serenity area
· Movies at the poolside Seaside Theatre
· Use of Carnival’s Camp Ocean kids club until late evening for children aged 2 to 17
· Gratuities (amounts vary based on stateroom category)
· Automatic gratuities of 18 percent added to beverages (including packages) and spa and salon treatments
· Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with the exception of water, tea, coffee and juices in the buffet
· Movies in the IMAX Theater and Thrill Theater
· Meals in most specialty restaurants
· Use of the Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy Pool in the Cloud 9 Spa
· All treatments in the Cloud 9 Spa, along with fitness classes and training sessions
· Specialty Coffees, including cappuccino and espresso
· All shore excursions
· Internet packages (can be purchased until midnight of the day before boarding Carnival Horizon)
· Selected activities like tasting events, the Build-a-Bear workshop, certain arts and crafts classes, arcade games and bingo
· Photos or artwork from their respective galleries
· Purchases from onboard shops, including Cherry On Top
· After-hours babysitting in the Camp Ocean Kids Club
Carnival Horizon passengers tend to be a fun-loving group hailing from all over the world -- but especially the United States. The ship's multiple cabin options and myriad activities appeal to families, and you'll see all kinds of kids onboard especially during the summer and over the holidays. Couples across all age ranges are common, as are large groups sailing together.
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 Carnival Horizon’s 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 specialty restaurants during dinner.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival.
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