Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 1: Getting Ready To Cruise


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If you’re reading this, you’ve either booked yourself on the Carnival Horizon (in which case, congrats!) or are considering doing so. In either case, this ten-part series is designed to help you plan for every aspect of your cruise… from where to eat to what you’ll find in the casino; what to do outside for fun, and ways to spend your sea days. If you’re ready, let’s get started with some thoughts on how to prepare for a cruise aboard Carnival Horizon.

What You Need To Know

Carnival Horizon docked in Barcelona.

First thing’s first: This is a huge ship. And that can be mighty intimidating, especially if you happen to be new to cruising. But honestly, don’t let it be. Instead, think of it as a floating city which holds all kinds of secrets waiting to be discovered. Spend a week on board, and you’ll still walk away realizing you never got around to trying this restaurant or seeing that show. Which is okay, because it just means you’ll need to come back and sail her again.

As this series unfolds in the coming days, we’re going to get into specifics about a lot of different topics, but we thought it might be fun to start off with information that will help put you in the right mindset for a cruise aboard Carnival’s newest ship. So let’s dive right in with some tips — many of which we’ll elaborate on in the days to come — shall we?

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Guy’s Pig and Anchor on Carnival Horizon.

1. You can eat all week for free

People love to talk about how cruise lines nickel-and-dime you. And it’s true… there are a lot of specialty restaurants on Horizon which cost extra. But you could also easily stuff yourself to the gills all week long without spending a dime. And that includes trying some of the fare offered by several of the specialty restaurants during lunch, when they offer a limited menu at no cost.

2. Use the Carnival Hub App

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You do not have to purchase an internet package in order to use the app, and we promise, you’ll find it wildly useful. Whether you want to figure out where something is located on the ship or find out what time a restaurant is open, this will turn your phone into an even more useful version of the daily Fun Times newsletter.

Read More: 11 Reasons to Download the Carnival Hub App

3. Do a little bit of planning

Could you walk on the ship blind and have an awesome week? You bet. However, if there are things that you definitely want to see or restaurants that are on your must-do list, do yourself a favor and make a reservation. Some venues — such as Bonsai Teppanyaki — book up incredibly fast, and you wouldn’t want to miss out if this is a meal you’re dying to try!

4. Don’t let the elevators freak you out

The Carnival Horizon is equipped with “smart elevators“… and they can really throw you the first time you use them. If you just step into a random elevator that opens up in front of you, you’ll wind up with a confused look on your face and wondering why everyone else is laughing at you. On this ship, you approach the bank of elevators and push not an “up” or “down” button, but the button for the specific floor you want to go to. The display will then assign you an elevator which, instead of stopping at every floor between here and there, will take a direct (or pretty darn close) route. Trust us: It saves a whole lot of time.

5. Hit the Havana area

Carnival Vista

Yes, the area (which will discuss further in the days to come) is only available to Havana stateroom occupants during the daytime. But after 7 p.m., it becomes a public space… and one not to be missed. Whether you want to sit in the amazing hot tub and stare at the wake or chillax on the recliners and sip a specialty cocktail, this gorgeous space is truly special and not to be missed.

Questions Only You Can Answer

We get a lot of questions here at Cruise Radio, and we’re happy to answer them… but there are some that we simply can’t. Why? Because the answer is doing to depend entirely on the person asking it and their cruising preferences. Here are a few questions we get about not only Carnival Horizon, but cruises in general, and the best guidance we can offer in response.

1. Should I buy the Cheers package? Is it worth it? 

Carnival Horizon
The Smoky Margarita on Carnival Horizon.

This comes up on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, and the best suggestion we can make is that you do a little internal math. One thing to keep in mind — and it’s a fact that could help sway your decision — is that the Cheers package does not only include alcohol, but a lot of other beverages including specialty coffees and milkshakes. But at the end of the day, it’s a question of how much use you’ll get out of it.

2. What category of stateroom should I get?

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Balcony stateroom on Carnival Horizon.

Some people throw their suitcases in their room and then visit it only to sleep. Others view their cabin as a getaway in which they plan to do a lot of sleeping, napping, and relaxing. The type of cruiser you are and how much you are willing to spend are the two biggest factors in determining whether you want an inside, oceanview, balcony, Havana, suite… as you can see, there are a whole lot of options available to you!

3. How much spending cash should I bring? 

This one will mostly depend on the ports you visit and what you intend to do in them. If you’re going to be staying on the ship the entire time, you can basically charge everything back to your room. (Just be careful, as it’s really easy to run up charges and not really realize just how much you’re spending!) But if you plan to spend a lot of time in ports, you’re going to need money, whether in the form of cash, credit card, or travelers check. One thing we do recommend: Get a bunch of small bills so that you can tip when appropriate around the ship. We never leave home without a stack of $1 and $5 bills.

Coming Up In Our Carnival Horizon-Themed Series

The Tides Pool space at the ship’s aft.

Now, get ready… because we’re about to do a deep-dive and look at every aspect of the Carnival Horizon. As we move forward, if you have questions, either leave them in the comment section below or send them to doug@cruiseradio! In the meantime, here’s what we’ll be looking at in the coming entries as we explore Everything Carnival Horizon!

  • Day 2: Free Eats
  • Day 3: Specialty Dining
  • Day 4: Entertainment
  • Day 5: Best Bars
  • Day 6: Kid’s Stuff
  • Day 7: For The Big Kids
  • Day 8: Sea Day Activities
  • Day 9: The Casino
  • Day 10: Before You Leave
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