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Carnival Horizon Trip Report, Day 3: A Return to Amber Cove

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No matter how many cruises I go on, no matter how many days I spend at sea, I will never, ever get tired of rolling out of bed early in order to enjoy this view.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

The other benefit to being up this early, aside from having much of the ship to myself, is that I can head to the gym for a workout and be assured that most of my fellow passengers are still sleeping off last night’s good times.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

Soon, the ship was heading toward our first port of call, Amber Cove. While some people mistakenly dub Amber Cove a “private island,” it’s actually considered a cruise port in the Dominican Republic.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

We’re the first ship to call upon Amber Cove since March of 2020. One of the weird things about the resumption of sailing is how often you’re hit with how long it’s been since ships sailed. Conversations on board almost always start with — or eventually get around to — the words, “How long has it been since you were on a ship?”

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

I’m sure at some point, we’ll all forget about the past 15 months. Or if not forget, it’ll be the kind of thing that gets brought up less and less often. “Hey, remember that time… ?”

But for now, there are a lot of “first time since” moments, including this one.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

As much as it might seem like everything is back to normal on the ship (if you don’t look too terribly closely), we had to don our masks again in order to disembark in Amber Cove. We had to keep them on while wandering around or shopping, but they could be taken off when you were laying by the pool or eating.

Most people were hanging out at the main pool area, or wandering over to the shopping area.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

I was very lucky.  I talk a lot about the importance of using a travel agent, but one thing that probably doesn’t get mentioned enough is the perks that they often can get you. Sometimes it’ll be something simple like a nice bowl of fruit in your room or maybe some onboard credit. Occasionally, it’s more.

This was one of those occasions where it was definitely more. Way, way more. Because my travel agent — who had several friends, clients, and co-workers on board — had arranged for us to use a cabana.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

But this wasn’t just any cabana. Welcome to the grand cabana on Amber Cove, which holds up to 20 guests and is just about the most perfect place to spend a day you can possibly imagine.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

Blue waters, comfy lounge chairs and recliners, a beautiful day. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

There are other cabanas at Amber Cove — a lot of them, in fact, in a variety of locations, including by the pool and on the hillside.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

After an amazing day on shore, I headed back to the ship. I needed to make myself presentable, because I was going to be doing one-on-one interviews with both Brand Ambassador John Heald and Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy.

I’ll be posting their interviews so that you can hear them in their entirety, but one thing we spent a bit of time talking about which hasn’t really been addressed during my daily trip reports is one of the next big challenges for all of the cruise lines: Getting the message out to skeptical cruisers (or new-to-cruising people).

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

Obviously, as has been talked about often, there’s a whole lot of people out there who love cruising and who couldn’t wait to get back on ships. Others, however, may not be quite as eager. Perhaps they’re nervous because of all the bad publicity the industry got during the early days of the pandemic.

Or maybe they’re afraid that cruising won’t be the same fun experience they remember. It’s those people that, as time goes on, the cruise lines will be working hard to reach, and those preconceived notions they’ll be working to overcome.

Carnival Horizon Return Trip Report

By the time I finished with the interviews, I’d missed dinner in the main dining room, so I headed back to the Seafood Shack. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best time to hit the place for a meal. It was late and they’d been busy as heck, so they were out of lobster and chowder.

Having heard that beggars can’t be choosers, I went with two pounds of snow crab legs. I also went into the buffet and made myself a salad. It was weirdly enjoyable, picking the ingredients and creating my own. I haven’t done that in a while.

After eating I wandered into the atrium to listen to the acoustic-rock violins. They’re always popular, especially the pre- and post-dinner crowd. Despite the fact that we all know I’m not really into shows, I popped into the theater for tonight’s Playlist Production only to quickly realize it was the Vintage Pop show, which I’ve seen before.

Given that I’m not really big on sitting through shows, I’m pretty sure you can guess my thoughts on seeing a show a second time. Instead, I went back to the atrium for more violin music. I think at this point I may have been checking out the entertainment options just to prove that I can, on occasion, stay up for at least a little while after dinner.

Tomorrow is a sea day, and that means one of the things I always look forward to the most on a Carnival cruise ship: the Sea Day Brunch. We’ll be using the app to make a reservation, as they recommend, so stay tuned for an update on how that goes. Until then, sleep well.

Check out my other Carnival Horizon trip reports!

America's trusted voice on cruise vacations. Editor of Cruise Radio and producer/host of Cruise Radio Podcast and CRN audio briefs.

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