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UPr123

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  1. We visited Cozumel on a 6-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Horizon, January 20-26. We took the ship's excursion via catamaran to Passion Island. This was a good way to spend a few hours, although it was nothing too special. The weather was not sunny and there was periodic light rain, but not enough to spoil the trip. The food was OK, not great but not bad also. The only thing that put me off was when I noticed at the bar there was no arrangement to wash the used glasses. They were simply being dipped in a bucket of water and then re-used, totally unsanitary. I wonder if the same was being done with the plates and utensils?
  2. We visited Grand Cayman Island on a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Horizon, January 20-26. We took the combined land/sea tour offered by the ship of the Turtle Farm, Hell, Rum Cake shop, and Sting Ray City. The boat ride to Sting Ray City was enjoyable. However, neither my wife nor I are good swimmers and we had trouble in the water even though we wore life jackets. When you step down from the ladder on the boat, the water is quite deep and I was barely able to touch my toes on the ocean floor. The guides were great and helped us get to the sandbar which was about 6 feet away. But there too, the water was not as shallow as we had been led to believe. There were waves that came periodically which were quite challenging for us and I think I swallowed a good deal of ocean water. Still, this was a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience for us and I am glad we were able to do it.
  3. We visited Ocho Rios on a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Horizon, January 20-26. We took ship's excursion for the Magic Mountain chair lift and Dunn’s River Falls combo. For those who are more adventurous, the zip line or bobsled would be better than the chair lift as there was not much to do on the mountain top. But DRF was excellent and we enjoyed every bit of it; the guides were great and took care to make sure that all of us made it up safely. The tour company runs shuttle buses every half hour between the port, the mountain, and DRF, so you are not constrained to be with any particular group. As a result, you can take as much time as you like at the mountain or at DRF. The arrangement with the lockers at DRF was a bit confusing and we had trouble finding our way to the lockers to retrieve our clothes at the end.
  4. This is part 2 (and the last) of a review of a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Horizon (January 20 – 26, 2019, Miami – Ocho Rios Jamaica – Grand Cayman – Cozumel Mexico – Miami with 2 days at sea). Part 1 of the review was posted on February 1. Dining: We were a group of four, my wife and me, and another couple traveling with us for the first time although they have done two other cruises before. This other couple is vegetarian, so my review of the dining will cover that aspect of the Horizon dining scene as well. I will only talk about the free venues that we used, as we did not go to any specialty restaurants. · Breakfast/Brunch: The Horizon offers breakfast in the dining room only on port days, whereas they have brunch on sea days. The brunch and breakfast menus have substantial overlap, including various styles of eggs, omelettes, pancakes, waffles, etc., and a few fancier items such as eggs Benedict. The brunch menu also has a few types of burgers. One item on the breakfast menu which was not on the brunch menu was the Indian “Masala Dosa” which is a specialty from South India. It was well made, but not spicy at all, and did not come with any of the standard Indian accompaniments. Still, this is a novelty which I have not seen on any other ship and it quickly became the favorite breakfast dish for our vegetarian friends. · Lunch: Lunch on port days is not offered in the dining room, so you have to go to the buffet at the Lido Marketplace. This was the most disappointing buffet I have ever seen on any of our cruises. There were only a limited number of items (perhaps no more than about 10, not including salad, breads, etc.) and not a lot of variety of foods. Even worse, our vegetarian friends found hardly anything worth eating here (think potatoes and salad). Dessert was a cake station with a variety of cakes that changed somewhat from day to day and were quite good. But there were no other types of desserts, again different from our experience on other cruises. One good lunch option was the Blue Iguana which had outstanding burritos and taco bowls, but we didn’t like to eat there every day (and the lines were long). · Dinner: After our lunch experience at the Lido buffet, we did not even try going there for dinner, so I have no idea if it was any better. We were assigned YourTime Dining, which worked well for us. After getting our first reservation from the reservation booth on Deck 5, we were able to get the Hub app to work for us and that was a great convenience. We never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a table, but then we usually dined a bit late (around 7-7:30 pm). The dinner menus were quite traditional compared to the menus on other ships. Some of the entrees were good, others not quite so. For instance, the Teriyaki Salmon was barely edible and the shrimp jambalaya was a small mound of rice with a few vegetables and a separate pile of shrimp that had no taste of any Cajun spice. There was one vegetarian entrée every night (that was not too attractive such as a simple pasta dish), but in addition there was also one Indian vegetarian entrée on the menu each night. Our vegetarian friends chose this and were very happy with it. There was a different vegetable and lentil each night, and they were authentically prepared. We soon learned that, for best results, you should order this meal the previous night. The spice level seemed to vary and after a few days, our friends learned to request a less spicy version and that mostly worked. We have seen Indian vegetarian dishes on dinner menus on other ships, but usually they tend to be the same vegetable (mostly a potato curry) and lentil every night. The Horizon’s dishes were just great with a lot of variety! If you are a fan of Indian cuisine, they also have an Indian non-vegetarian entrée available every night (e.g. chicken or lamb), but it has to be ordered in advance. I tried that a couple of nights and it was outstanding. You can ask the dining room waiter to show you the vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus for the entire cruise, but we found that the items we received were not always the same as those on the menus. Still, these dishes were the highlight of our dinner experience. I cannot say the same for desserts. There were only a few options for dessert and they were humdrum. The crème brulee and baked Alaska were too sugary. Even the ice creams somehow did not taste great. · Service: We were disappointed with the level of service in both the dining room and the Lido Marketplace. On other ships, we have seen the wait-staff hover over your tables constantly taking care of all your needs. On the Horizon, that was not the case. We had to spend long amounts of time trying to catch someone’s attention to fill the water glasses or to get a refill on the coffee. At dinner in the dining room, no one ever offered us coffee with the dessert. In fact, we had the impression that they did not serve free coffee at dinner time. Until the last night, when we happened to ask whether coffee was available and they said yes. We have never experienced this on other ships, where they would always proactively ask you if you wanted coffee. At 8:30 every evening, the maître d’ would lead all the wait-staff in the dining room on a song and dance routine that was a novelty on the first night but rapidly wore off as the same routine was repeated every night. They would be better off keeping it for just the last night of the cruise. Shows: There were only three production shows in the Liquid Lounge. The Vintage POP and Amor Cubano shows were very good. I forget the name of the third one, but it was too dark for our taste. All three shows had excellent production values and special effects. We were disappointed that we did not get to see the Celestial Strings that we had heard so much about. Instead, the remaining nights were various game shows that we didn’t really care about. We did see a couple of movies on the big screen on the Lido deck. This area is not covered, so rain is a problem. The movies continued even when it rained and we had to seek cover along the sidelines. Our sailing day, January 20th, was the day of the NFC and AFC championship games and I was looking forward to seeing them on the ship. I was disappointed as they were being shown on small screens in just a few bars. These locations were crowded and it was impossible to get a good view of the game. By contrast, we were on Holland America’s Koningsdam this past summer during the World Cup and they showed most of the important games on the big screen on the Lido deck, which was great. Why doesn’t the Horizon do the same? Excursions: In Ocho Rios, we took the Magic Mountain chair lift and Dunn’s River Falls combo. For those who are more adventurous, the zip line or bobsled would be better than the chair lift as there was not much to do on the mountain top. But DRF was excellent and we enjoyed every bit of it; the guides were great and took care to make sure that all of us made it up safely. The tour company runs shuttle buses every half hour between the port, the mountain, and DRF, so you are not constrained to be with any particular group. As a result, you can take as much time as you like at the mountain or at DRF. The arrangement with the lockers at DRF was a bit confusing and we had trouble finding our way to the lockers to retrieve our clothes at the end. In Grand Cayman, we took the combined land/sea tour of the Turtle Farm, Hell, Rum Cake shop, and Sting Ray City. The boat ride to Sting Ray City was enjoyable. However, neither my wife nor I are good swimmers and we had trouble in the water even though we wore life jackets. When you step down from the ladder on the boat, the water is quite deep and I was barely able to touch my toes on the ocean floor. The guides were great and helped us get to the sandbar which was about 6 feet away. But there too, the water was not as shallow as we had been led to believe. There were waves that came periodically which were quite challenging for us and I think I swallowed a good deal of ocean water. Still, this was a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience for us and I am glad we were able to do it. In Cozumel, we took the catamaran to Passion Island. This was a good way to spend a few hours, although it was nothing too special. The weather was not sunny and there was periodic light rain, but not enough to spoil the trip. The food was OK, not great but not bad also. The only thing that put me off was when I noticed at the bar there was no arrangement to wash the used glasses. They were simply being dipped in a bucket of water and then re-used, totally unsanitary. I wonder if the same was being done with the plates and utensils?
  5. No, sorry, I have no insider's insights, but you are right, I was hoping to see this show and was disappointed it was not there.
  6. This is part 1 of a review of a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Horizon (January 20 – 26, 2019, Miami – Ocho Rios Jamaica – Grand Cayman – Cozumel Mexico – Miami with 2 days at sea). We were a group of four, DW and myself, and another couple traveling together with us for the first time although they have done two other cruises before. The Horizon was built in 2018 and was the newest Carnival ship at the time of our sailing. Embarkation: Carnival asks us to do an online check-in, but I was not aware that the embarkation procedure depends on how soon you complete this check-in process. Our flight was arriving at Miami Airport at 9 am the same day and I thought we would be able to board the ship early, as we have done with many of our other cruises. However, I procrastinated with the online check-in, and when I finally completed the process, I was given a choice of two embarkation times: 1-1:30 PM and 1:30-2 PM. I chose the first one and we then ended up having to kill time at the airport, as I had also read somewhere that Carnival will not let you board before your embarkation time. That proved to be not correct. When we arrived at the port, there were two lines, one for those with a current embarkation time and the other for those who were either early or late. We were 15 minutes early, so joined the second line. But the process was quite fast and we did not have to wait long at all. I was surprised that we did not have to go to a registration desk to get a picture ID card, as we have done with our earlier cruises. Instead, the card is sent directly to your stateroom, which makes the embarkation process faster. Cabins: We were in cabins 8307 and 8295, both interior cabins. The newness of the ship shows in the cabins and we were happy with our experience. While not spacious, the cabins were comfortable and the furniture arrangement was good. There was adequate drawer, shelf, and closet space. The bathroom was also adequate. We are not fans of shower curtains, but this one was not as bad as some others we have experienced. The shower had dispensers for bath soap and shampoo, but not for conditioner. I personally prefer these dispensers over having to use small soaps and shampoo bottles. The shower floor and bathroom floor were an attractive blue faux-tile with no grout to collect dirt over the years. There were adequate mirrors and lighting in both the bathroom and the main cabin. Also, the showers had a pull-out clothes-line that you could use to hang a few clothes to dry. This is particularly useful for swimsuits if you are going to need them the next day. But we found that the humidity in the bathroom caused the clothes to stay moist even after hanging overnight. Luckily, I had taken with me a pair of magnetic hooks and a piece of rope, and I soon had a make-shift clothes-line in our cabin. We just turned up the heat a little bit and the clothes dried like magic. Of course, the Carnival also has laundromats on each deck, but we didn’t see anybody use them. You can use your ship card to use the washers and dryers, so there is no need to carry a bunch of quarters. Elevators: Much has been written about the smart elevators on the Horizon and we just loved them. Whoever came up with the idea must be brilliant. This smart system prevents a crowd of people from rushing to whichever elevator happens to arrive next. While we occasionally had to wait a bit, overall the system worked really well. However, Carnival should post instructions on how to use these elevators on every floor, as most people appeared to press the button only once and not for each person in their group. The Carnival Hub App: We also loved the Carnival Hub App which we installed on our iPhones before arriving at the ship. The app is incredibly useful and convenient. It has information on the weather, the day’s onboard activities, dining menus, ship maps, your onboard account, and more. However, the app refused to function initially when we first boarded the ship. After boarding, I thought I would use the app to find out what we could eat and where, and also use its maps to find our way around the ship. But the app did not have any of this until a few hours later when it was almost time for the ship to sail. Perhaps I did something wrong, so I would love to hear if other people had a different experience. Public Restrooms: One big negative, in my opinion, about the Horizon, is the lack of adequate public restrooms. These are few and far between and difficult to find. There are simply not enough of them given the large number of passengers on the ship. They are also small compared to my experience with other cruise lines. As a result, the restrooms were always crowded and dirty. Part 2 of this review will deal with food and dining, shows, and excursions. Hope you found this useful!
  7. Does anyone know if the interior cabins on Carnival Horizon have a clothesline in the bathroom?
  8. I am confused by the postings on this thread. My wife and I have just booked a cruise for January 2019 on the Horizon, and this is our first time on Carnival, although we have cruised with many other cruise lines before. After booking the cruise, I tried to select our dining option. Only YourTime Dining was listed and that said "Wait Listed" in parenthesis after it. I just now called Carnival to ask about it. They told me two things that I find very confusing: 1. They said that right now we will be waitlisted for YTD. If the waitlisting does not clear, then we will not be able to use YTD. In that case, it looks like our only option will be to eat in the buffet or one of the other restaurants. I am surprised by this, because I thought that YTD is an alternative to regular assigned dining hours and that it can be used by anyone who does not have assigned hours. On other cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean or Holland America, we even had assigned dining and still could show up at AnyTime Dining and eat at other times. 2. Secondly, they said that if the waitlisting does clear and we are given YTD, then we will have to select a time between 5:45 and 9:30 and then show up at that exact time every night. Again, I find this strange, as I thought the point of YTD is to have flexibility in when you eat each night. If some night we arrive late from a shore excursion or we decide to see a show, we could eat at a different time, but Carnival tells me that is not the case. Can someone please clear up my confusion and tell me what are the real rules? Also, one other question: We have friends traveling on the same cruise as us and we wanted to link the bookings so we could dine together. The Carnival rep on the phone had me choose a secret pin number, and then said I would have to share my booking number and pin number with our friends, they would then have to call Carnival and provide this information to get the linking done. Is this procedure correct? Why would they have me share my pin number that is supposedly to be kept secret? Thanks!
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