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Carnival Cruise Line Changes Future Cruise Program

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Carnival Cruise Line wants its passengers to do two things: Have a great time and, as a result, make plans to come back for more. That’s why they offer incentives to people on current cruises if they book their next one before disembarking.

But this week, word began to spread of a few major changes that have been made by Carnival to their Future Cruise Vacation plan… and it’s not going over well with some folks.

Future Cruise Program Changes

What’s Changing?

First, the good news: cruisers will still be able to book a future cruise either while on board or within two weeks of their return to shore, and they’ll be able to do so via the Carnival HUB app, an on-board Loyalty and Cruise Rep or a travel agent. In the past, guests could only book through the on-board reps. 

At the time of booking, cruisers will be able to take advantage of reduced deposits and a two-category upgrade in combination with Early Saver rates which feature price protection.

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Bookings Are Non-Refundable

That said, because bookings will be of the non-refundable variety, passengers who opt to change their sail date will lose the on-board credit. That credit will also be forfeited if the price drops and you opt to rebook, which was not true previously. And while in the past the amount of the credit offered varied depending on the length of cruise, it will now be a flat rate of $25 per person (up to $50 per cabin) across the board with the exception of suites, which will receive a $50 per person credit (up to $100 per cabin).

Travel agents will still be able to book their clients into a group booking with this offer, however the previously available — and wildly popular — Friends & Family vouchers (which allowed folks who might like to travel with you to get the same deal) will no longer be offered.

How Does This Compare?

For comparison, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a Cruise Next program whereby passengers can buy a “future cruise certificate” for $250 and receive an instant $100 on-board credit. Passengers do not have to book a specific cruise, and have up to four years to apply their purchased certificates. Guests can buy up to four certificates at a time, and they can be transferred to other people.

Carnival, however, remains the only cruise line which allows passengers to take advantage of a Future Cruise Vacation promotion up to two weeks after they disembark.

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Carnival Horizon Makes Inaugural Call in Canadian Port

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Carnival Cruise Line’s brand new Vista-class ship Carnival Horizon made her first-ever call in Halifax, Nova Scotia yesterday.

The day was a welcome change for cruise passengers; it was the first port stop after six days at sea crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean. Ship officers as well as local officials held a traditional plaque ceremony in the Library onboard, where a plaque was given to the ship by the Port of Halifax and other tokens were exchanged, including a model of the ship given to the port by Carnival Cruise Line.

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Carnival Horizon is the sister-ship to Carnival Vista, which pioneered a number of new concepts for Carnival including the SkyRide bicycling attraction and the Dreamscape LED sculpture in the atrium. Some of Horizon’s unique new features include a sit-down barbecue smokehouse and brewery as well as a Cat in the Hat themed WaterWorks water park.

Click here for a video of the ship headed into the Port of Halifax.

Click here for our article on all of the free food found aboard Carnival Horizon.

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Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 10: Before You Disembark

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Hard as it is to believe, our time together exploring Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ships is coming to an end. But before that can happen, we need to take one last spin around the Carnival Horizon… just to make sure you aren’t missing anything!

How Do You Spend That Final Day?

Nobody likes to think about disembarkation, yet that seems to be what the mind winds up focusing on during those final 24 hours of any cruise. You’re not even off the ship yet, but the mind begins wandering to the work that will be waiting on your desk or the unmowed lawn waiting to be tended. Our best advise: Given that you are on a Carnival ship, do as they advise and Choose Fun for as long as you possibly can.

Sure, you’ll have to pack your suitcase eventually… but the last day of your vacation is when you should slow down enough to soak it all in. Give yourself a little extra time to sit in a quiet spot, staring out at the sea and taking mental photographs. Have a long, leisurely brunch (during which you allow yourself to have a second, and maybe even a third, Bloody Mary. Head to Cherry on Top and get one more of those amazing ice cream sandwiches, which you know you’re going to have cravings for once you get back home.

Choose your cookie. Choose your ice cream. Choose your toppings. Eat. Could anything be simpler?

One thing we’d definitely recommend you do in advance: If you have a specialty restaurant you want to enjoy that final dinner-at-sea in, make a reservation. For many people, dining at the Steakhouse, for example, is a perfect capper to their cruise. Tomorrow, they’ll be back to making their own dinner and clearing their own tables, so why not have one final high-end meal?

Go ahead, live a little… it’s the last night of your cruise!

Another thing you definitely want to make sure to do on that final evening is head to the casino to cash in any winnings you might have! One of our favorite ways to make sure we go home with a little money? Cashing out whenever we have a decent win on a slot machine, putting a fresh $20 bill in the game… and sticking those tickets into the safe in our stateroom and not touching them until the week is over. When it’s time to head upstairs on the final night and pack our bags, we grab those tickets and cash them out.

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One way we fight the melancholy that can often set in on the final day is by booking another trip, which on the Carnival Horizon can be done by visiting the future cruise desk on deck 10. Then, having put it off as long as we possibly could, we finally head back to the room and pack. After spending a fair amount of time deciding what to bring and what to leave behind during the days building up to the cruise, the packing-to-disembark process is a lot quicker and easier. You know the drill: Throw everything into the suitcase, don’t even bother folding it, taking as little time as possible.

The saddest thing ever? Seeing all the suitcases lining the hallways, waiting to be collected on that final night.

If you need any information at all about the disembarkaton process, make sure to check the Fun Times or ask at Guest Services. But don’t leave this until the last morning… trust us, the staff will have their hands full trying to get everyone off the ship so that a whole new group of passengers can board and begin their vacations! In fact, if you have anything at all you need to deal with Guest Services about, try not to wait until that last evening, because the place can become a bit of a zoo!

And remember that there is no room service available on that final morning, so if you want to grab one last free meal, you’ll have to actually leave the room… or at least convince one of your traveling companions to do so! Again, consulting the Fun Times will tell you where you can go for that final meal, whether it’s a sit-down breakfast or just grabbing some coffee to get yourself going!

Sadly, it is here that we, too, must part ways. Here’s hoping that you’ve enjoyed our special, in-depth look at the Carnival Horizon. Keep checking back for more information on not only this ship but the upcoming Carnival Panorama, which we’re already excited to explore!

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Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 9: Sea Days

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Whether you think cruising is about the destination or the journey, when it comes to voyages on the Carnival Horizon, you’ll almost inevitably find yourself with a sea day or two to enjoy. If you’re on a port-intensive trip, you might be tempted to take this as an opportunity to kick back and relax on your balcony or catch up on our sleep, but they’re also the perfect time to really experience everything that this amazing ship has to offer.

Sea Day Brunch

Regular readers of Cruise Radio know that one of our favorite things about sea days on Carnival cruise ships is the amazing Sea Day Brunch. Held in the Meredian dining room, the complimentary brunch offers a wide variety of options, several of which you won’t find anywhere else on board.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons To Try Carnival’s Seaday Brunch

Another great reason to hit the brunch is to build up your energy.. all the better to enjoy the various activities going on all around the ship. At the main pool on the lido deck, things tend to get a bit loud (and, it’s worth noting, crowded… if you’re looking for a quieter poolside experience, we recommend heading to the aft-facing Tides pool). This is where, weather permitting, they’ll hold the Lip Sync Battle auditions. (A “Meet The Finalists” session, as well as the ultimate battle, will generally take place on the final day of your trip, in the Liquid Lounge.)

The Cat In The Hat and his pals have an entire water park to keep you entertained.

Want to hit the waterslides at Dr. Seuss WaterWorks? Your best bet on a sea day is to do it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You’ll also find things like volleyball and basketball tournaments taking place in the SportsSquare complex, times for which will be listed in the Fun Times.

The Gathering You’ll Never Forget

Also taking place on a sea day is the Military Appreciation Gathering, usually held in the Liquid Lounge. This incredible, emotional event, held on all Carnival ships across the fleet, is designed to pay tribute to active and retired military personnel and their families. It’s a nice reminder that the people who sacrifice so much — whether by serving time in the various military branches or allowing their loved ones to do so — in order to keep us safe aren’t random, faceless strangers. Find out, via the Fun Times, when the gathering is being held and attend. You’ll walk away glad that you did.

Another sea day happening that many people never experience is the Towel Animal invasion. Wake up early for a walk around the ship, and you just might discover that the pool deck has been taken over by those same adorable creatures who usually can be found sneaking into our staterooms (with the help of a cabin steward).

This guy and a whole lot of his friends take over the lido deck while guests are still sleeping!

And while you won’t see the Towel Animal Invasion listed in the Fun Times, you will be able to find out when you can attend a fun session during which you’ll learn to make some of the critters. Imagine how fun it’ll be the next time you have visitors and can leave an elephant made of your guest towels for them to discover?

Speaking of fluffy, friendly critters, there’s usually a Build A Bear Workshop offered at Camp Ocean on sea days. The final product makes a great souvenir, although parents should be aware that there’s a fee associated with the activity. Kids (and their parental units) will also enjoy taking part in the Dr. Seuss parade through Ocean Plaza, which is then followed by the Seuss-A-Palooza storytime.

Elsewhere Around the Ship…

Fully aware that they have a ship filled to the brim with passengers who have nowhere to go and time to kill, the Fun Shops often have big sales going on and the casino ramps up the activities designed to draw you in. (“Come for the Slots Tournament, stay to spend more money!”) Want to take in a movie (especially if it happens to be a particularly gloomy day? You’ll usually find special daytime features being run in the IMAX theater.

If you were unable to get a dinner reservation at one of the specialty restaurants onboard, it’s always worth checking to see if you can score a lunchtime table on a sea day. Even Bonsai Teppanyaki, the current hottest ticket, will occasionally have a sea day opening.

One of the things we love about Bonsai Sushi on the Carnival Horizon is that you can eat outside!

If you’re either not traveling with kids or are taking a break from them on the Serenity deck, make sure to check out the complimentary Fresh Creations salad bar that’s set up on sea days. It’s a great place to grab a light, healthy salad. You can choose from Our Way selections like Serenity Now (Boston lettuce, hopped tomatoes with cilantro, toasted coconut, watermelon, ice berg, steamed shrimp and Fresh Creations dressing) or Romaine Calm (Sliced romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh mint, toasted chickpeas, chili, cilantro, pita chips and a Moroccan vinaigrette) or Your Way, where you chose from a variety of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and other toppings.

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Fresh Creations allows you to have a light, healthy salad without having to leave the comfort of the Serenity deck.

Obviously, sea days offer a whole lot of options. and truth be told, we’ve only just scratched the surface! But at this point, we’re just stalling… because next up is the final entry in our 10-part series, and it’s all about saying farewell to not only your vacation but also the Carnival Horizon. So when you’re ready, we’ll tackle that toughest of moments, disembarkation!

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