Connect with us

CARNIVAL HORIZON

Trip Report: Carnival Horizon – Day 6

Published

on

When I woke up today, the Carnival Horizon was docking in Livorno on the Tuscan Coast. It’s hard to believe how quickly this cruise is flying by. I’m not used to only having one sea day on a seven-night cruise, since you typically start and end each cruise with a day at sea. That gives you time to get used to the ship at the front end of the trip, and a day to decompress (and, sadly, prepare to re-enter the real world) as the trip comes to an end. But Mediterranean cruises tend to be very port intensive, and I’ve certainly made the most out of every place that we’ve stopped.

Carnival horizon

As has become my habit on this cruise, I started the day by hitting the main dining room for a quick port day express breakfast. I’d love to say I tried something completely different, but when you find what works, stick with it… which is why I got my old standby, the cracked-egg sandwich and a cup of coffee. I’ve meant to grab breakfast on the Lido deck at some point, at least so I could relay to all of you what the experience is like. But truth be told, I just haven’t felt like giving up an opportunity to be served breakfast (let alone deal with any crowds you might find on the Lido.).

Despite that, breakfast was definitely a must. This morning, we were really exhausted after having hiked around Rome yesterday… but that wasn’t going to stop us from getting the most out of this port visit.

Carnival Horizon

The tour of Florence was very nice, and we got to see a lot of landmarks like the tomb of Michaelangelo, the home of Dante Alighieri house (best known for the epic poem The Divine Comedy ), and a couple of really stunning historic Cathedrals. The tour was 10 hours and went by in a flash. It’s  wild how you can go from thinking, “What the heck am I going to do in Florence or Rome for seven hours” (not counting the transportation back and forth) to “Woah, where did the time go?”

Carnival Horizon

I got back on the ship just in time to take the pub tour in the Pig and Anchor brewery. Colin Presby is the brewmaster who spends almost the whole year onboard ships brewing beer and keeping the taps flowing. During the tour, everyone got a flight of beer and was explained the process behind the brewing all four beers. After sampling the beers, we got to go see where they actually brew… which is a pretty amazing process, considering it all takes place on a ship. Carnival first introduced the brewery on sister ship Carnival Vista back in 2016.

Carnival Horizon

READ MORE: Meet The Man Who Makes Carnival Cruise Line’s Beer!

Our group was dining in JiJi’s Asian Kitchen tonight but there was still so much of the ship that I wanted to see and experience, and our time on board was quickly winding down. The initial plan was to go up to the Lido and grab something from the marketplace buffet or deli but I got sidetrack, and wound up at the Pig and Anchor again. I didn’t really plan on eating there again tonight, I swear… it just happened! Tonight I went with The Smokehouse Melt and let me tell you, this was by far the messiest and best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. It has pulled pork, sliced brisket, double smoked pork belly bacon, two slices of cheddar cheese, homemade pickles and donkey sauce. It was $6 and one of the best meals I’ve had on board yet… and that’s including the 18-ounce cowboy cut in the steakhouse.

Carnival horizon

There’s a comedian on board named Happy Cole, who I first interviewed in 2011 on Carnival Fascination. He is a hoot — that’s right, I said a hoot! — and his shows are a mix of messing with the audience and talking about his experiences on the ship. The Punchliner Comedy Club is held in the Limelight Lounge toward the back of the ship on deck four.

Carnival horizon

One question I’ve been getting repeatedly is about the design of the theater in general and specifically, the poles which caused so many complaints about sight-lines on Vista. Yes, they are still there. If you think about it from a technical standpoint, they kind of need to be there. See, above you is Ocean Plaza, which means the support columns in the theater are actually holding the floor of that venue up. So if you want to get a good seat in the comedy club, get there early… especially during the late-night show. The PG show rarely ever fills up because folks are either eating dinner or watching a show in Liquid Lounge.

Carnival horizon

Happy Cole was so funny that I wanted to catch his last show in the Liquid Lounge. He was doing a double-bill with the other comedian who was on board with him. I had a little time to kill, so I went down to my stateroom to start packing and then sat in the main atrium for a little while to people watch, soak in the atmosphere to hold me over until I’m back on the ship in a few weeks, and get a feel for how the space handles the flow of traffic. The violinists who play on deck four overlooking the atrium were really good and they were killing it with the audience participation. Folks were on decks three, four and five, all leaning in to listen to them play everything from Coldplay to Michael Jackson.

The midnight comedy show in the Liquid Lounge was about half filled and had a lot of laughs. Between the two humorists, there was situational comedy, observational comedy and more than a little bit of raunch. Both these guys have been performing on Carnival ships for over 20 years and they seem to know exactly what the typical cruise audience is looking for.

We are officially done with Italy and steaming our way toward Marseille, France, after which we return to Barcelona. Oh, how I wish there were a sea day in between.

Listener question 

My wife is recovering from breast cancer and can’t be around smoke. Is this a big problem on the ship? – Dale 

Good question, and one that comes up a lot with almost every ship… especially where the casino is concerned. Everyone’s tolerance to smoke is different. Personally, I can’t handle the smoke on one of my favorite ships, Carnival Sunshine, because it drifts out of the casino and into the main atrium. Then again, people say the smoke is really bad on Carnival Magic, yet on that ship, it didn’t phase me at all. So it’s definitely subjective. With that said, it didn’t faze me at all on Carnival Horizon when I wasn’t walking through the casino. Just aft of the casino, before the Limelight Theater, you could smell it, but it wasn’t overpowering. By the time you went down to the aft dining room, you couldn’t smell it at all. Same thing moving forward in the Atrium Bar. I could not smell it in there.

Sponsored Link

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisement

BEFORE YOU GO

12 Differences Between Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista

Published

on

Just because two ships are in the same class doesn’t mean that they are exactly alike. After all, even twin sisters have differences — some subtle, some blatant. In the case of ships, changes can be made for numerous reasons. Perhaps a new feature is being added, or the initial design didn’t work out quite the way everyone imagined it was. Each new ship in a specific class is like a chance to enhance on what came previously.  So it’s not surprising that when Carnival Horizon was being built, the company incorporated lessons learned from the first-in-her-class Carnival Vista while also adding completely new elements to the already successful formula.

So what differences have we noticed so far between the two ships? Take a look at our list below, and then hit the comments if you’ve spotted other differences between the sibling ships.

1. New Lighting in the Atrium

Carnival Horizon

Chances are good that upon entering the atrium, your eyes immediately will be drawn to the Dreamscape funnels and their beautiful, constantly-changing imagery. But take the time to really look around the atrium. You’ll notice that between each of the three levels, there’s a circle of track lighting which not only helps create the illusion of a bigger space, but adds an additional design element which is somehow subtle and striking at the exact same time.

2. Tap Entry to Staterooms 

Carnival Horizon

Your sign-and-sail cards now have RFID technology which allows you to enter the room without sticking your card into the slot. If you look closely, you’ll see a small wire running along the outer edge of the card that lets it communicate with your stateroom door when you get close. This is the same concept utilized by Royal Caribbean for their WOW bands and Disney — both in the parks and on their ships — with the Magic Bands.

3.  Bonsai Teppanyaki

Carnival Horizon

One of the biggest and most noticeable changes is obviously the Bonsai Teppanyaki restaurant. Based on our experience and the difficulty people have had in booking the space (which has limited seatings available), we won’t be a bit surprised if this restaurant is not only included on future builds, but perhaps even added to other ships in the fleet when they go through refurbishments.

READ MORE: Bonsai Teppanyaki Review 

4. The Speeds Bumps are Gone 

Carnival Horizon

On the Carnival Vista there were several areas on decks three, four and five which had slightly-raised edges around the fire doors. Anyone dragging their feet (or using a cane or other mobility device) would definitely notice (and possibly trip over) them. On Horizon, however, they seem to have addressed the potential problem.

5. There are More Havana Suites 

Carnival Horizon

As soon as renderings of the Carnival Vista began circulating, people went nuts for the new Havana Suites and their lanai-like balconies. Not surprisingly, once the ship was actually introduced, the entire Havana area — including the aft area which is reserved for Havana guests during daytime hours — proved crazy popular. So it’s not surprising that when it came time to parse out staterooms on Horizon, they added a few extra cabins in this category.

Read More: Carnival Horizon Trip Report: Embarkation Day

6. The Pig & Anchor Smokehouse

Carnival Horizon

Yes, the RedFrog Pub is gone… but before you get your knickers in a knot, know that the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse is most definitely a worthy replacement. The food is amazing, there’s plenty of cold beer on tap and entertainers keep your toe tapping. This is a very welcome addition to the Carnival fleet… so much so that I actually heard people say the Pig & Anchor alone could sway them to choose Horizon over Vista.

READ MORE: 35 Tips For Sailing The Carnival Vista

7. Entertainment In The Steakhouse

Carnival Horizon

Sometimes, the smallest ideas can have the most surprising results. Who would have thought that simply flipping the locations of Piano Bar 88 and The Library Bar would make such a difference? But because the piano bar is now directly next to the steakhouse, diners can enjoy the smooth sounds of someone tickling the ivories while they enjoy their meal. And as far as I’m concerned, the more live entertainment, the better.

8. The New Doors 

Carnival Horizon

You know how sometimes when you would go outside on deck 5, there’d be a gust of wind and the door might actually be hard to open? Sometimes, depending on the weather, you could hear doors slamming all day and into the night. Well, thanks to the airlock-style doors installed, it’s now a much smoother inside-to-outdoor transition. It may seem like a minor change, but it makes life easier, and isn’t that what we all want out of a vacation?

9. Taste Bar is Gone 

Carnival Horizon

Change is good… usually. But the jury’s still out on this one. Word is that Taste Bar will eventually be eliminated fleet wide. On Horizon, it’s already a gone pecan. You can still grab some limited food here at breakfast time, and on sea days they set up a salad bar, both of which help disperse the crowds at the Lido Deck Marketplace. Personally, I’ll miss the Taste Bar, which often offered samplings of foods from some of the specialty restaurants on board.

1o. A Larger Guest Relations Area 

Carnival Horizon

Frankly, we hope that you never have to visit the Guest Relations deck… at least not because you’re having trouble on your cruise. But if you do, the expansion of this space on deck 3 is a good thing, as it’s created more work stations at which the crew can try and make right whatever has gone wrong. Not only is the space larger, but it has a much more open feel did the same area on Carnival Vista.

11. Additional Seating Outside 

Carnival Horizon

A big reason many of us cruise is to connect with the ocean. There’s something about sitting outside — whether reading, eating or napping — and feeling the sun on your face as you gaze off into the distance that’s about as peaceful as life gets. So it’s only fitting that on a ship named Horizon, they’ve created a lot more spaces from which to… well, gaze at her namesake.xThis is especially true on the starboard side of deck 5, which on Carnival Vista was home to Guy’s Pig & Anchor. Here, the space has been freed up for more seating. In fact, that’s something we noticed at every turn on this ship: There are all sorts of areas, both indoors and out, to sit, whether by yourself or with a group. There are cozy nooks and loungers and quiet corners everywhere.

12. Smart Elevators

Carnival Horizon

Sponsored Link

Carnival Horizon rolled out smart elevators that are often used in busy land-based buildings. These elevators eliminate the stop-and-go at every floor. Instead, you walk up to the elevator and push which floor you’d like to go. From there, the elevator’s brain picks which lift is quicker for you and assigns your an elevator. The new elevators also expedite disembarkation by moving 1,000 guests per hour. The new elevator system is scheduled to be implemented on Carnival Panorama and eventually retrofitted to Vista.

Have you noticed any other differences between the Carnival Horizon and the previous ship in her class? With the Carnival Panorama currently being built, are there any changes you’d like to see implemented on her? 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Continue Reading

BEFORE YOU GO

Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 4: Entertainment

Published

on

Over the past few days, we discussed the fact that whether you want free eats or specialty dining, you won’t go hungry on the Carnival Horizon. Now it’s time to talk about what you’ll be doing after the show and all we can say is… don’t plan to make it an early night. Why? Because there’s a whole lot going on around the ship, and it’d be a shame to miss out on the action.

There’s Music Everywhere

While there are several full-scale productions available for your evening’s entertainment, just walking around the ship will inevitably lead you to live music. One recent event, we found a great duo crooning country tunes in the Pig & Anchor, a singer-backed band (or a late-night DJ) keeping people grooving in the Havana bar, a violin trio playing on the elevated platform just above the atrium bar, and yet another band playing in Ocean Plaza… there’s no shortage of options on the Horizon. Don’t like the type of music being featured in one venue? Grab your cocktail and wander someplace else. And don’t forget to swing by the piano bar for a rollicking sing-along, or the Limelight Lounge if you want to get your boogie on.

The Shows You’ll Want To Catch

Carnival Horizon

Production-wise, Carnival Horizon offers several Playlist Production shows… all of which are designed to immerse the audience more than ever before. “We’re using [video-game] technology to create immersive environments,” says Media Producer Robb Wagner. “It’s going to make the audience feel more like they’re stepping into a world versus sitting down to watch a show.”

So what worlds do they take you to? With Soulbound, it’s the supernatural-tinged underbelly of New Orleans. While the cast is singing tunes like Superstitious, Soul Man, and Born Under A Bad Sign, the staging transports the audience to a haunted riverboat, a cemetery and an apothecary… the latter of which would make Alchemy Bar a perfect spot for pre- or post-show cocktails.

Carnival Horizon

Buck and Oz singing in the Pig and Anchor.

Vintage Pop is a little closer to the standard Playlist Production show Carnival passengers are familiar with, featuring a Cotton Club era vibe. The twist here? Modern tunes rearranged in a jazzy style by a six-piece live band… and a party which then moves to the atrium so everyone can join the fun.

Interestingly, the “world” passengers are transported to with Amor Cubano is the ship’s own Havana Club, which is partially recreated on the stage for this production. Again, the highlight here is live music as a seven-piece band performs Cuban-tinged hits from the likes of Gloria Estefan and Celia Cruz.

But perhaps the most original of the shows is Celestial Strings. For quite some time now, the string trio who has played in the atrium have been a favorite among cruisers, so it makes sense that Carnival would build an entire show around them. The idea here is to merge classical music and pop beats, then set the whole thing in a virtual “garden” that changes with the seasons and uses multi-sensory techniques to bring it to life. (Translation: You’ll not only hear the music, but see and even smell it!)

But Wait… There’s More!

Carnival Horizon

While we’ve focused here largely on the nighttime entertainment to be found, it’s worth noting that you don’t have to wait until the sun sets to find a good time… and this is especially true on sea days. This being a Carnival ship, you can count on a lot of music and activities (including crowd-pleasers like the Hairy Chest competition) around the pool.

One of the not-to-be-missed activities usually held by the pool, weather-permitting, is the Lip Sync Battle Open Auditions. (Be advised, you shouldn’t get the kids too excited about this one… participants have to be 18 years or older!) Look for the exact time of the auditions in your Fun Times newsletter, it’s usually on sea days.

Carnival Horizon

Hasbro, The Game Show!

And if you’re looking for one of our favorite family-friendly activities, keep an eye on the Fun Times newsletter for Hasbro, The Game Show. Want to be part of the action? Make sure to get to the theater early, grab a good seat, and make lots of noise when the hosts are looking for volunteers. (On the other hand, if you want to make sure you’re not among those chosen, sit in the upper levels… and maybe slouch down in your seat during the selection process!) Watching people of all ages compete in ginormously-sized versions of games like Simon or Connect Four is pretty much a guaranteed good time… especially when the kids prove far better at the games than do the adults!

Sponsored Link

Looking to prove you’re a total know-it-all? Of course, you’ll find trivia competitions covering everything from Geography (we’ll take a hard pass on that one!) to 80s Music (that’s more like it!) And while many dance parties are held in the atrium, keep your eyes on the Fun Times for a special, adults-only party held — where else? — on the Serenity deck.

And yes, of course, there’s Bingo galore… but you probably already assumed that, right?

Next up as we continue our Carnival Horizonpalooza? Make sure to eat a little something so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach, because we’re going on a bar crawl.

Read our past entries:

SaveSave

Continue Reading

CARNIVAL HORIZON

Trip Report: Carnival Horizon Disembarkation Morning

Published

on

Today was the day that every cruiser dreads, the end of our trip and disembarkation. Is there anything worse than walking out of the cabin, hearing the door shut behind you and knowing your vacation is over? Before leaving my stateroom this morning, I took a few minutes to stand on the balcony and tell myself I’d be at sea again soon. It was a little easier this time than it has been in the past, given that I knew I’d actually be back on the Carnival Horizon in just a few weeks to do the transatlantic. And until then, I’d have the latest addition to my miniature ship collection, as I remembered last night to run down to the gift shop and purchase one before they closed.

Carnival Horizon

If there’s one annoying thing about European sailings, it’s the VAT tax you have to pay on merchandise and drinks you purchase on the ship. For those who have never had to deal with it, the VAT is a Value Added Tax… which is basically the EU’s way of saying “We want our share”… and they get it, too, at a rate of up to 22% of your purchase price! If you spend over $120 in merchandise while on board, they give you a form which allows you to get some of the tax back at the airport but let’s be real. Unless you spent a whole lot while on the ship, it’s not going to be worth your time to deal with this on top of all the other hassles already in store for you at the airport.

Despite the annoyance of the VAT, I did wind up getting my model ship, so my personal fleet — which I started back in 2016 — has a new addition.

READ MORE: Former Carnival Cruise Ship For Sale!

I should add that when I left the room to get my ship last night, I made another purchase… and this was one I probably could have lived without. But Cherry on Top was still open, and their amazing build-your-own ice cream sandwiches were $1 off and, well, I’m only human. I went with vanilla ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies and rolled in M&M’s. I think it was around $2.50 with the discount, and a gratuity was added. The cookie was a little harder than I expected, but it probably has to be so the whole thing doesn’t just crumble in your hand the first time you try and take a bite.

Carnival Horizon

Sponsored Link

Carnival no longer allows you to order breakfast from room service on disembarkation morning, although you could tell from the number of order tags hanging on doors this morning that a lot of people either didn’t know that or figured, “What the heck, maybe it’ll work!” Hope they were prepared to be disappointed.

Because my flight was so early, I wound up carrying my own luggage off. The goal was to meet in the Reflections Dining Room at 6:30 a.m. to take advantage of priority disembarkation, but when I walked down to deck three, they were already allowing people off the ship, so our group walked off and was at the curb in less than five minutes. Because you clear customs at the airport in Barcelona or when leaving the country, you don’t need to declare anything or fill out a customs form as you exit the ship. So much different than the states. We didn’t even need to show our passports when we were getting off the ship.

Carnival Horizon

We wound up taking a cab to the airport, which cost 39 euros ($47 USD). We could have used the Carnival transfer option for about the same amount, but the last thing I wanted to do was wait in another line, so the cab made things easier. When we were heading to the airport we passed Norwegian Epic, a ship I had last seen in Port Canaveral about two months ago, so it was cool seeing her again in Barcelona.

Final Thoughts

Our sailing was very port intensive and didn’t really leave a lot of time to explore the ship, which is a big reason why I booked the transatlantic cruise in May. During that sailing, which is a 14-day trip, there will actually be six sea days in a row. I’m excited about that for several reasons. For one thing, it will give me a chance to explore the ship more than I was able to this week. After all, it’s tough to get a real sense of the nightlife on board when you’re so exhausted from hiking around gorgeous cities that after dinner, you want nothing more than to go to sleep. This will also give me a chance to hit some of the restaurants, bars and other venues that I wasn’t able to this time around.

I don’t think I’ll be doing a trip report for the transatlantic. Instead, I’m going to take advantage of the time — and Carnival Horizon‘s better-than-expected internet speeds — to bring you a whole slew of reviews of the options available on this ship. We’ll also be running our 10-part series, Everything Carnival Horizon, which will give you even more insights into this amazing ship.

So whether you’re booked to sail on the Horizon, trying to decide if she’s right for you or someone who — like me — basically loves reading anything and everything about cruise ships, we’ll have you covered.

Continue Reading

Sponsored Link

ads

Sponsored Link

Stay in the Know with Cruise Radio

Send this to a friend

Hi, this may be of interest to you: Trip Report: Carnival Horizon - Day 6. This is the link: https://cruiseradio.net/trip-report-carnival-horizon-day-6/