Just Back From a Cruise on the New Carnival Horizon

Our writer is just back from a cruise on Carnival's newest megaship.

When we boarded Carnival’s newest megaship, Carnival Horizon®, I immediately looked for similarities to and differences between Horizon and her sister ship Carnival Vista®, launched in 2016 as the line’s most technologically advanced vessel.

Similarities were abundant:
• The high-end Havana Staterooms and Suites, which include an exclusive pool area and a taste-of-Cuba décor, and the atmospheric Havana Bar—complete with live music and dancing.
• Guy’s Burger Joint, the most popular dining spot on the ship featuring Guy Fieri’s signature burgers. (And they’re free!)
• The three-deck high IMAX Theater, featuring Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again.
• The SkyRide, featuring bicycles suspended on a twin-track course high above the deck.

And having sisters of my own (and knowing how Carnival one-ups itself with each new ship), I knew to look for inevitable differences between the nearly 4,000-guest vessels. I discovered several.

The hundreds of little ones on the ship were drawn like magnets to Dr. Seuss WaterWorks, where the huge Cat’s Hat slide tumbled them down the red and white striped top hat and the Fun Things slide reacquainted them with the blue-haired pair before being splashed by the giant tipping top hat.

Fans of wacky TV foodie Guy Fieri were eager to check out Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse/Brewhouse. This further collaboration with Fieri—with a free menu at lunchtime and an a la carte menu for dinner—offers choices like brisket, baby back ribs and dry-rubbed chicken smoked over hickory wood and accompanied by an all-new line of Parched Pig craft beers brewed just feet away. (Our dinner was delicious and plentiful: a huge prime rib (we wimped out on the 18 ouncer and went for 9!), roasted spicy corn on the cob, coleslaw, Texas toast, jalapeno peppers and pickles. We added mashed sweet potatoes and Guy’s signature apple cobbler with ice cream, because calories don’t exist on cruise ships!?

Speaking of fantasy, Horizon’s Dreamscape funnel sculpture, made up of more than 2,000 flexible LED lights creating ever-changing digital artwork (some replicating drawings by young patients at Carnival’s much-loved St. Jude Children’s Hospital), was a mesmerizing presence in the three-story atrium.

Another tech marvel on Horizon is the Schindler destination-based elevator—the first at sea and a real curiosity on embarkation day as thousands of guests tried to reach their staterooms. It works like this: on a digital screen by the elevators, you select the deck you want. The screen directs you to a specific elevator car (R or S or T, for example) for a direct ride to your selected deck.

According to Horizon Hotel Director Damir Mrsic, these elevators are 30 percent faster and after an upcoming software upgrade, will also ensure that cars aren’t overcrowded. While at first, many seemed nonplussed by the lack of control inside the car, by the end of the cruise, it seemed natural and easy.

While Playlist Production stage shows are nothing new for Carnival, it bears mentioning that the new productions on Horizon are among the most innovative and entertaining at sea. On our four-night cruise, we were treated to two shows.

Soulbound was a soul-stirring musical mash-up of R&B hits and a monster love story that played out around the large Liquid Lounge. The second show, Celestial Strings, featured four Broadway-caliber soloists and the three violinists of Imprint, who brought electric strings to a symphonic rock and pop production that brought down the house.

During sea days, spa treatments, restaurant- and bar-hopping, casino, bingo and deck games, and shopping in the mini-mall, which includes the first Kate Spade shop at sea, kept cruisers happy.

After a brief season of Bermuda and Caribbean cruises from Manhattan, Horizon is homeported in Miami, from which she sails six-night Western Caribbean cruises to Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and eight-night Eastern Caribbean cruises to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Kitts; and St. Maarten.

The writer was a guest of the cruise line.

Book your cruise on Carnival Horizon with AAA. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor.

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Rose Stadt, AAA Travel Counselor, Vallejo, Calif.

More and more people want to customize their escorted trips with longer stays in certain cities or visits to specific sites. I make sure the independent pieces fit seamlessly with the tour.

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