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Review: Carnival’s Seafood Shack



It seems like the most natural fit in the word: a seafood shack aboard a ship cruising through the ocean. But does the reality live up to the idea? I had a chance to sample the food at Carnival’s Seafood Shack when it debuted on the Carnival Vista last year. With the eatery being introduced to an ever-expanding roster of ships in the Carnival fleet, this seems like a great time to talk about how the food is… and what it will cost you!

What makes Seafood Shack unique?

Inspired by a New England seaside eatery, the Seafood Shack has fresh fish on display along with an open-air kitchen that allows guests to watch their meal being prepared right in front of them. As an added bonus, it’s actually located outside, giving you fresh air and gorgeous views of the very ocean from which your meal was caught!

Reminiscent of more than a few of the New England seafood shacks I’ve visited over the years, there’s no table service here. Instead, you walk up to the bar, place your order and then are given a pager. There is plenty of outdoor seating surrounding the Seafood Shack, but you can also take your food into the nearby Lido Marketplace (which is convenient if you happen to want to pick up something to go with your order). There also happens to be a drink and soft-service ice cream station steps away from where you order, so you’ve got pretty much everything you could want or need available to you!

What’s on the menu?

This is pretty much a seafood lover’s paradise. Want a whole fish or maybe some crab legs? You can get either here, and then have it cooked to order. The menu also includes such traditional fare as clam strips, fried shrimp, lobster rolls and chowder. Feeling hungry? Try the fried seafood platter, featuring fish, shrimp and clam strips.

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Lobster Roll and fries.

Needless to say, I visited more than once during my cruise… all in the name of research, of course! Among the items I tried were a bucket of buffalo fried shrimp ($6), clam chowder in a bread bowl ($4) and my favorite item on the menu, the lobster roll ($12), featuring nice hunks of fresh Maine lobster served with a side of seasoned french fries. It should be noted that each order includes a gratuity charge.

You can see the full menu here.

Final thoughts

Lobster Roll and a Clam Chowder bread bowl.

Given the venue’s popularity, it’s not surprising to see it being installed on more ships. During my recent sailing on board the Carnival Liberty, I noticed that the area of the ship previously used as an outdoor grill area had been converted to a Seafood Shack. It seems likely that over time, the Fish & Chips stations which many ships previously offered will be replaced by the Seafood Shacks. And while some will grouse about a for-fee venue replacing a complimentary one, the quality of food and relatively low cost should prove popular with the majority of cruisers. Personally? Having downed about 12 lobster rolls during my Vista cruise, I’d have to say I’m totally on board — pun intended — with the change.

Currently, Seafood Shack can be found on Carnival Conquest, Freedom, Glory, Liberty, Triumph, Valor, and Victory.


Carnival Cruise Line

Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 10: Before You Disembark



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 advice: Given that you are on a Carnival ship, do as they advice 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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Carnival Cruise Line

Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 9: Sea Days



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, whether 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 the 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 personal 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?

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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 on board, 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 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 toppings.

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 the Carnival Horizon. So when you’re ready, we’ll tackle that toughest of moments, disembarkation!



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Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 8: The Casino



If you thought we were going to explore the Carnival Horizon and not spend some time talking about the casino, you don’t know us very well! Even if we weren’t big fans of casinos in general, we’d still wind up spending time in this one because it’s really quite striking. That’s thanks in no small part to the Dreamscape funnel found at the central bar. It may not be as big as the one which serves as the central point of the atrium, but it’s just as beautiful.

The Dreamscape in the casino probably can’t make you feel better about losing, but it’ll give you something pretty to look at!

We’ve spoken quite a bit about these funnel-shaped screens ever since they first were introduced on the Horizon‘s sister ship, the Vista, and it’s with good reason. Their unique ability to change the entire feel of the space they occupy is stunning. You know how whenever something new is rolled out, there’s always a group of people who say, “Eh, it’s okay but, to quote Shania Twain, that don’t impress me much.” We have yet to meet anyone who has had a negative thing to say about these babies.

The Casino Basics

If you’ve been in a cruise ship casino, you know basically what to expect. There’s a wide variety of slot machines and table games, there’s a smoking section (much to the chagrin of some) and a non-smoking section (not enclosed, much to the chagrin of others). During peak times, the bartenders can seem a little overwhelmed, but that happens at any hot spot around the ship from time to time.

So instead of dwelling on the general, let’s drill down on some of the specifics about this casino in particular. First off, for those who’ve become addicted to the Lock It Links Diamond slot machine that seems to be all the rage of late, yes, they have some. And yes, they are crazy popular, so your best bet for slipping into the seat in front of one is to either hit the casino during slow times or keep an eagle eye on them. When a seat opens up, it’s filled pretty quickly.


How nice would it be to walk away with the Grand Jackpot of $13,000?

As far as these machines go, the ship has both the Diamonds version and the Night Life version (the biggest difference between them being the way the bonus round is triggered). There are also a wide variety of popular machines like the Quick Hits, 88 Fortunes and (shout it as if Vanna White’s life were depending on it… ) Wheel! Of! Fortune!

Compared to some other lines, the table game minimums were on the low side, with most starting at $5. Even the high roller tables weren’t outrageous, running around $25 on busy nights, but coming down to $10 during slower times. And yes, there were several tables designated as non-smoking.

There are plenty of table games available at various denominations.

So let’s address the elephant in the room… or the cloud of smoke hanging in the air, as it were. One of the things that comes up time and again when people discuss cruise ship casinos is how bad the smoke is, and whether it permeates areas outside the casino itself. (This has been a particular problem on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway class ships, where the casino is located in the middle of the entertainment complex and smoke tends to be fairly pervasive. It’s one of the reasons that on their newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, the smoking area is enclosed.) Whether it’s because this is a brand new ship or the air filtration system works great, the smoke didn’t seem terribly heavy within the casino. And at least during the inaugural cruise, the smell didn’t tend to carry too far behind the entrance and exit points of the casino.

Games People Play

The casino also has two types of games that are wildly popular on cruise ships, although some never quite understand the attraction. The first is the sweeper-type into which you drop coins in an attempt to line them up in such a way that a constantly-moving sweeper will push piles of them into your tray (as well as other prizes). And the other, pictured below, are the…

… adult versions of carnival games. One involves dropping a claw down for a chance to grab at some cash, while another challenges players to line up a key and a lock in order to claim a prize, including iPads and cash. Seems simple, right? So many a person has thought… usually wrongly!

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Special Events & Competitions

One thing you want to do is keep an eye on the Fun Times, which will usually have a special “Casino” section listing various offers and events going on each night (and, during sea days, often during the day as well). Among some recent events were the Big Loot Draw (every 100 points earned in the casino got players an automatic entry into a raffle for Casino Cash), Hot Seat promotions (in which random people won prizes), and Hi-Low, in which selected contestants competed against a deck of cards for prizes a la the old game show Card Sharks. This was in addition to tournaments for slots, poker, and Texas Hold ‘Em players.

There are only two entries left before our time together comes to a close. But there’s still so much more to talk about! Up next? Some of the many, many ways you can spend your sea days aboard the Carnival Horizon!


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