Carnival Horizon Entertainment & Activities
Liquid Lounge serves as Carnival Horizon's main theater. Covering two levels, it's a bit of a departure from traditional cruise ship theaters, in part because it's designed specifically to host the ship's Playlist Productions, which include LED special effects. The shows are a fun mix of music and technology (including aroma-infused sets), but sight lines are troublesome, especially in back, where you're battling large, silver pillars. If you want to see everything -- unobstructed -- arrive early. If you get there later and find an empty seat, chances are, it's got poor sightlines. Many passengers on our sailing elected to stand near the bar and behind the seats rather than risk obstructed views.
When there isn't a Playlist Production, the Liquid Lounge also hosts guest entertainers, such as magicians and singers, along with shows like Hasbro, The Game Show and The Love and Marriage Show. During the day, the Liquid Lounge is the spot for events like seminars, bingo, dance classes, trivia and shore excursion.
If you're a trivia fan, Carnival Horizon is the ship for you. You'll find multiple rounds of trivia every day, with topics ranging from "Friends," to "Carnival" and "Harry Potter." There's also a round of sports trivia every day. Sessions are well attended and fairly competitive. (Winners take home a coveted plastic ship on a stick.) Other participatory activities might include a digital scavenger hunt, dodgeball tournaments, hairy chest contests and poker tournaments.
The giant screen poolside often shows movies, both during the day and at night, for free, and the ship has an IMAX movie theater, which shows current blockbuster movies for a fee (which is less than you'd pay at an IMAX theater on land). Carnival Horizon's Thrill Theater takes passengers on quick virtual adventures, playing to all the senses using special effects and motion. Shows run the gamut, from family friendly to slightly scary to completely terrifying. No matter which you pick, there is a fee.
Horizon Casino, located on Deck 4, is open when the ship is at sea. It's got lots of slot machines along with table games like blackjack and roulette. The ship also has a large arcade, on Deck 6, that features air hockey and drive or shooting video games. The arcade costs extra, and you pay for your games by swiping your key card.
In the evening, passengers can find live music virtually everywhere. This is also when you'll find things like karaoke and singles meet and greets going on. Carnival Horizon hosts themed deck parties, like an 80s glow party and a dress-in-white event. Guest entertainers might wander the ship, providing personalized fun. (We adored the close-up magician, who boggled our minds with his illusions.) The Liquid Lounge turns into a dance club some nights, complete with DJ.
Carnival Horizon Bars and Lounges
Carnival Horizon's wide variety of bars and lounges means the ship is rocking well into the night. Many of the bars are packed after dinner, but finding seats is rarely a problem because passengers naturally gravitate to their favorites, spreading the crowds across multiple venues. Every space is fun, but the vibe -- and beverage offerings -- at each is refreshingly different.
Horizon Atrium Bar (Deck 3, midship): Probably the first bar you'll see when you board Carnival Horizon, the Atrium Bar is something to behold. The centerpiece is a stunning LED funnel that swaps images throughout the day. There's seating around the bar as well in nooks and on colorful benches. It's got live music going on starting in the afternoon and going into the evening. It might be dance music at one time, stringed instruments at another. We loved the variety here and found ourselves checking in often to see what was new.
Limelight Lounge (Deck 4, aft): During the day, the Limelight Lounge hosts talks and seminars. But things really get going at night, when it hosts comedians as part of the Punchliner Comedy Club. Earlier shows tend to be family friendly, but later shows are definitely for adults. (Look at your Fun Times cruise daily to make sure you're not taking the kids to an adult show.) The Limelight Lounge is a large space with lots of seating in deep red armchairs facing a stage. Sightlines here are good, but pillars do get in the way. If you don't want to get stuck behind one, get to the show early.
The Limelight Lounge also hosts karaoke, live music and dancing, turning into a nightclub when the armchairs are removed.
SkyBox Sports Bar (Deck 4, aft): A full-on sports bar, SkyBox Sports Bar has a huge bank of TVs that can be used together, as one large screen, or separately. The lounge has high-top tables, booths and sports memorabilia galore. There's also a ticker that lists off the latest scores. If you have a particular game you'd like to watch, ask the bartenders -- just be aware they might not be as fanatical (or understanding) of your favorite sports team, so nailing down the right channel could take some time. Those looking for a poker fix while catching a game can sit around the electronic poker table, which was only lightly used during our sailing. The sports bar also hosts sports trivia every day.
Casino Bar (Deck 4, midship): Located smack-dab in the middle of the casino, the Casino Bar is a round bar that has a few TVs nearby. It's the only indoor venue onboard that allows smoking.
Liquid Lounge (Deck 4 and 5, forward): The Liquid Lounge serves as the ship's main theater, and its bar is mostly for those enjoying a show.
Alchemy Bar (Deck 5, midship): This quirky bar is designed to feel like a pharmacy; bartenders dress in white lab coats and whip up a cure for what ails you. The Alchemy Bar isn't a particularly large space, but it's convenient to everything, with Bonsai Sushi and Fahrenheit 555 nearby. It also serves as a good spot to gather and grab a pre-dinner drink. It's one of the busiest lounges throughout the night, with passengers daring to try new drinks. Cocktail options are creative, and you can order from the menu or leave it in the capable hands of the skilled mixologists, who can create something unique based on your preferences. Just don't ask for beer or soda here: Alchemy Bar is strictly for cocktails.
Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse (Deck 5, midship): Carnival Horizon is the only ship in the line's extensive fleet that has a Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse onboard. Consider it a hit. Beer is the star here: The bar offers four varieties brewed onboard at the ship's brewery. Choose from the ParchedPig Smoked Porter, ParchedPig Farmhouse Ale, ParchedPig Toasted Amber Ale or ParchedPig West Coast IPA. The bar also features Carnival's signature ThirstyFrog Red as well as some cool canned crafts from other breweries. If you can't decide, order up a sampler of the house drafts, served on a wooden paddle. Other beers and drinks are available, and they're worth a try as they blend creativity with premium ingredients. Naturally, this barbecue joint offers a huge variety of bourbons, as well. Give the bacon Manhattan a try, made with bacon-fat-infused bourbon and garnished with candied bacon. (Yes, there's definitely a pig theme at this place.) The venue's signature drink, the smoked boulevardier, is worth ordering for the spectacle alone, as it involves a whole lotta stirring and rosemary smoke under a dome.
True beer aficionados -- or those with a casual beer interest -- will adore the brewery tour, offered on sea days. For a modest fee, you'll learn about the onboard brewing process, sample the beers and come away with a souvenir beer glass and a certificate of completion. (Yay, you!) Sign up quickly, as space is limited to 16 and the tours tend to fill fast.
You also can purchase souvenir glasses and stainless-steel growlers, which you can refill at the Brewhouse throughout your cruise. (Growlers cost about $50 full for the first one, and refills are less than $20 each time.) Seating is available indoors or out.
A small stage hosts live music in the evening; selections lean toward country and classic rock. The venue fills up when food service ends, and when the main theater show finishes. While there is room to dance, we found that most people were content to simply watch the band and sing along. The bar also hosts the ship's naughty "adult game" as well as beer pong, where the competition is intense.
Piano Bar 88 (Deck 5, midship): The Piano Bar is a signature on Carnival's fleet of ships, where passengers gather late into the night singing along as a pianist plays, sings and jokes along with revelers. On Carnival Horizon, the bar includes seating around a piano as well as at tables with plush chairs. Red is the main color here; lights, furniture, carpet and curtains are all red. Art of famous musicians, like Ray Charles and Elton John, adorn the walls. If you've been to a piano bar on land, you know the drill: Make a request via paper slips, and your song will be performed by singer/pianists who seem to have endless music catalogues memorized. (Giving a cash tip along with your request might help move your song to the top of the queue.) The bar opens in the evenings and stays open into the wee hours. On our sailing, the venue was fairly tame, with passengers drifting in and out. This might have something to do with the fact that the bar essentially makes up the back of steakhouse Fahrenheit 555, serving as background music for the restaurant. Doors are closed later at night, creating a more intimate bar space.
Havana Bar (Deck 5, aft): Definitely a favorite at night, Havana Bar is a beautiful space that has a distinctly Cuban theme, with faux tin ceilings, dark wood, bright mosaic tile and blue plantation shutters. (We love the tables set up for playing dominoes, a Cuban staple.) And there's plenty of music, mostly with a Latin flair, and lots of dancing well into the night. Not surprisingly, it's usually hopping once the sun goes down. Just don't try lighting up a cigar here; smoking isn't allowed.
Virtually any kind of drink is available here, including, of course, mojitos and Cuba libres. You also can get traditional Cuban coffee here any time of day.
An adjacent outdoor bar is a little bit quieter at night. Until 7 p.m. each day, this outdoor area is closed off except to passengers staying in Havana cabins.
The Library Bar (Deck 5, midship): One of the best spots onboard for stealing away for a quiet glass of wine, the Library Bar -- with its self-service wine machine -- is an unusual and appreciated convenience. (If you're 21 or older, just swipe your card.) The library doubles as a game room, with a nice selection of games and puzzles tucked in among the books lining the shelves. You'll find comfy lounge chairs in the outdoor space adjacent to the Library Bar.
Plaza Bar (Deck 5, aft): The Plaza Bar is easy to miss; it's tucked away in the corner of Ocean Plaza. With only a few barstools, it's quiet and a good place to grab a quick drink without a long wait. Pick a libation, then duck out to the adjacent Plaza Outdoor Area. Or stick around to play trivia, regularly held in Ocean Plaza.
RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 10, midship): Along with the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the RedFrog Rum Bar is the busiest, most lively bar during the day (on sea days). It's located poolside and serves exactly what you'd expect on a cruise -- tropical, rum-based drinks like pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris and rum runners. Carnival Cruise Line's signature beer, ThirstyFrog Red, is also served here, and the daring can try it spiked with spiced rum. Unlike a lot of other cruise ship bars, where passengers order a drink and head back to the pool, people love to hang out here and soak up the atmosphere.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10, midship): Located on the main pool deck, BlueIguana Tequila Bar serves up slushy colorful drinks such as classic and strawberry margaritas. It also offers a number of crafty tequila cocktails and, of course, straight up tequila, with a few higher-quality brands available for sipping, including Patron Reposado and Avion Silver. Mexican beers (think Corona, Sol or Tecate) are available, as are pitchers of spiked lemonade and nonalcoholic margaritas. You can pick up souvenir glasses here and at RedFrog Rum Bar -- and many passengers do -- as well as drinks by the yard.
Tides Bar (Deck 10, aft): The Tides Bar is a small bar located between the Seafood Shack and Pizzeria del Capitano. It serves the Tides Pool area and is open in the morning for those looking for an early pick-me-up.
Serenity Bar (Deck 15, forward): The Serenity Bar serves passengers relaxing in the adults-only Serenity area. It's a peaceful spot that is relatively quiet most days.
Carnival Horizon Outside Recreation
The main pool on Carnival Horizon is the Beach Pool, located on the Lido Deck, Deck 10, midship. It's fairly large and plenty deep, and on hot days, it's packed. Blue lounge chairs fill the deck around the pool. (These are taken quickly on sea days, so if you want prime real estate, you'll need to start sunning early.) You won't find much shade around the pool; your best bet for avoiding the sun here is at the tables near the RedFrog Rum Bar or BlueIguana Tequila Bar, which are under the overhang from Deck 11 above. Otherwise, you can try to grab a spot under one of two cabanas that actually sit in the water, so passengers can dip their feet while enjoying some drinks.
Tides Pool is also located on Deck 10 but at the rear of the ship. Two hot tubs are adjacent to the pool, and blue loungers surround it as well. The Tides Pool has better options for shade-seekers: Big red umbrellas provide relief from the sun. (The umbrellas are affixed to permanent holes in the deck, so they can't be moved. If you want an umbrella spot, you have to set yourself up around it, not the other way around. Umbrellas are taken down if it gets too windy.) Like the Beach Pool, space comes at a premium here, and you need to get there early if you want a spot, especially on sea days.
Available exclusively to Havana cabin passengers, the Havana Pool feels a bit like an oasis. It's got greenery and faux palm trees, a good amount of shade, two hot tubs, loungers, sunbeds and colorful wicker chairs. Havana cabin passengers must be at least 12, so the pool area also is more adult-oriented. Service here, from the adjacent Havana Bar, is excellent.
Pools are open until fairly late -- often until midnight. Carnival Horizon doesn't have a true kiddie pool, though the tykes will love the ship's splash zone. Children must be potty-trained to use any of the pools or water play areas.
Carnival Horizon has enough recreation options to keep you busy for weeks -- or at least a weeklong cruise. Best of all, it's all included in your cruise fare. The ship's splashiest option is the SkyRide, essentially an open-air capsule you pedal around a suspension track on Deck 14. The 800-foot course, which features inclines and declines, is best enjoyed while the ship is docked, as you get amazing views of the ports you visit. (That works out perfectly, as lines for the attraction grow long on sea days.) SkyRide features two tracks, so you can race your friends. SkyRiders must be at least 48 inches tall to ride.
Those seeking adventure need look no further than the SkyCourse ropes course. The course, 150 feet above the sea, actually offers two paths: one for beginners, and one for those looking for something a little more difficult. Both are fairly short but require climbers to move from platform to platform walking tightropes, clinging to rope webs and balancing on wobbly boards. You can switch between courses at any time during your jaunt should your skills not stand up to your bravado. It's safe fun (you're harnessed in) that gives you a great look at the ship's SportsSquare directly below.
The SportsSquare, on Deck 12, is a colorful game area that gives passengers the chance to play Twister, four-person Ping-Pong, billiards, and mini-golf, among others. It's as popular with adults as it is with kids, and it's a fun option for families. Indoors off the SportsSquare, you'll find more games, like a giant soccer version of billiards and a huge foosball table that can accommodate many players at once.
Two water slides are the centerpiece of Carnival Horizon's Dr. Seuss WaterWorks, a zany, wonderful spot designed for the young and the not-so-young. (Horizon is the only ship in Carnival's fleet to feature the Seuss-themed water park.) The Cat in the Hat slide -- it's more than 450 feet long -- sends riders down a twisty, turny trip while riding a tube. The entrance to the slide resembles the cat's famous red and white hat, a pattern that is repeated on the slide itself; some sections are translucent, others opaque. The second slide is the Fun Things slide, named after Thing 1 and Thing 2. The shorter of the slides, it is fully enclosed and features polka dots and lighting effects. (It's also the faster of the two slides.) The Dr. Seuss WaterWorks has a large kiddie splash zone that includes dozens of water spray toys. Larger-than-life Seuss characters, including the Grinch and the Cat himself, are mainstays of the water park, which also includes a 150-gallon dump bucket.
Horizon also features a SkyCourt, where passengers can play basketball, soccer or volleyball.
The best spot to get a dose of sun (or an appropriate amount of shade) is the Serenity Deck, a beautifully relaxing spot for adults only (the minimum age to relax here is 21). Located on the very top deck -- Deck 15 -- the space is gorgeously appointed, with sun beds, lounge chairs, hammocks and clamshells. You'll find faux palm trees and bright yellow umbrellas, along with some of the best views from the ship. (Don't be surprised if your relaxation in one of the two hot tubs here is momentarily interrupted by shutterbugs snapping away.) It's got its own bar and a fresh salad restaurant (open sea days), so you can stay put for as long as you want. It's away from the action of the Beach Pool area, so it really is quiet and far less busy.
Carnival Horizon has several other spots where people can relax under the sun. Deck 11 is ideal for people who want to be near the pool deck but away from the sometimes-frantic pace. Deck 11, whether midship or aft, has lounge chairs and tables with chairs all over. It also has a lot of options for shade, as much of it is covered by the overhang from Deck 12. You'll overlook the Beach Pool if you're midship. At the rear, overlooking the Tides Pool, are even more loungers along with umbrellas.
Deck 12 also has a sun deck, though smaller. It butts up against the Dr. Seuss WaterWorks space, which has colorful seats and umbrellas.
Deck 5 is Carnival Horizon's promenade deck, and you'll find lots of chairs and loungers here, too. The seating spaces form an outdoor extension of bars or restaurants, so you're never far from cocktails. During the day, passengers chill out, reading and having quiet conversation. At night, when the restaurants open, the space is open to diners.
Carnival Horizon Services
Carnival Horizon's guest service desk is located on Deck 3, just off the atrium. This is also where you'll find the ship's shore excursion desk, called "Carnival Adventures." A number of shops, selling sundries, logo items, duty-free purchases, watches and the like are located on Decks 4 and 5. This includes passenger favorite, Cherry on Top, where you can buy bulk candy, including cute Carnival brand "whale tails."
Deck 5 also is home to the ship's library, which has a solid selection of books for reading while on your cruise. This space also is the ship's game room, where you'll find a variety of board games and cards along with plush chairs and sofas. Pixels Photo Gallery also is on Deck 5, and it's gone digital. Photographers onboard take lots of pictures of passengers throughout the cruise, and facial recognition software assigns it to the appropriate person. You can visit the gallery and swipe through the photos, purchasing any that appeal to you. You also can buy cameras and camera equipment here, including batteries and SD cards. Dream Studio also is located on Deck 5, right next to Pixels. Hire the ship's professional photographers for private photo shoots around the ship or even in port. Photo packages, providing passengers digital or print (or both) pictures are available.
A tiny internet cafe is next to the photo gallery. The ship offers Wi-Fi to purchase, so the cafe is lightly used. Three Wi-Fi plans are available: a Social plan that allows users to visit popular social media sites like Facebook WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat along with airline sites ($35 for a seven-night cruise); a Value plan, which adds sports, financial, weather and email sites to the Social plan ($16 a day or $84 for a seven-night cruise); and a Premium plan ($25 a day or $123 for a seven-night cruise), which includes virtually all sites, though streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu aren't covered. Plan fees are per device. Wi-Fi on our sailing was not lightning fast; in fact, it hung up even during times when we'd expect it to perform better, like late at night or when many passengers were in port. We're told the internet speeds will continue to improve.
Carnival Horizon also offers the fleet's only smart elevators. You pick what deck you're going to from outside the elevator, as opposed to inside. Then, a TV monitor tells you which elevator you should board to get to your destination. The elevator stops at the appropriate decks along the way. In theory, it eliminates overfull elevators that stop on every deck, squeezing in more and more passengers. In action, we found it mostly worked, especially on embarkation day, where two elevators were programmed to stop only on decks 3 (where passengers boarded) and 5 and 10, (where passengers could eat lunch). It was less effective when Horizon visited ports, and everyone was trying to leave at the same time. Anyone going in the opposite direction had long wait times.
Self-service laundry facilities are located on several decks throughout the ship. You can purchase detergent and fabric softener from machines. Bring along quarters -- or get them from guest services -- as washers and dryers only take change. Each launderette features an ironing board and clothes iron, which can be used for free. If you'd prefer to have someone do laundry for you, services are available at a per-bag cost. Fill out the form you'll find in your cabin and leave items in the bag provided.
An ATM is located near the shops on Deck 4. A medical center is located on Deck 0. Purchase your next cruise at the future-cruise desk on Deck 10, forward.