My husband and I and our family spent a great week on the Horizon, marred only by less than stellar weather and several of us catching a cruddy upper respiratory virus.
Cruising with us were our two adult daughters, their husbands, and our three grandchildren, ages 5, 7, and 9. The ship did seem crowded at times, partly due to the weather that kept everyone inside.
We stayed on deck 2 in the Family Harbor in three of the aft cabins, 2488, 2501, and 2503. The Family Harbor Lounge was very convenient for snacks and breakfast. We all enjoyed the ice cream and I enjoyed the coffee/latte/cappuccino machine. There was a wide variety of breakfast items in the morning, and in the afternoon there were snacks such as chips and salsa, sandwiches, cheesecake, cookies, etc.
We thought the food on board was overall, very good. One of our daughters and family ate in the Pig and Anchor restaurant twice at night and they thought it was really good. Other than that, we did not utilize the specialty restaurants. There was enough good food available otherwise that we didn’t feel the need to do so. We all liked the Guy’s burgers and the breakfast burritos from the Blue Iguana. The main dining room food was mostly very tasty and at times, downright delicious. As a comparison, my last two cruises were on Princess, and I felt the food was as good, if not better, than what we had on Princess. Even the selections from the buffet (mostly) were pretty darn good. Most of the desserts were very good.
We enjoyed the entertainment as well, especially the New Age String trio, James Munks in the piano bar, and the two comedians, Diane Ford and Chas Elstner. For some reason the Celestial Strings production show was not performed and I was very disappointed about that. Is it only done on the 8-night cruise? Cruise director was Mike Pack. I missed the Soulbound and Amor Cubano production shows; we were doing activities with the kids those evenings. I saw a little bit of The Vintage POP show and it was good.
Our grandchildren only got to use the Dr. Seuss waterpark the first day at sea due to the weather. The last day of the cruise (second sea day) it rained the entire day. In Ocho Rios, we all stayed on the ship except for our oldest daughter and her husband; they did the bobsled tour and enjoyed that. The children did mini golf, played pool, ping pong, etc. and then got in the pool around lunch time, but after some sunshine earlier in the day, it turned cloudy and the pool water was chilly.
We booked an independent tour in Grand Cayman through Captain Marvin: Stingray City, snorkeling, and lunch at the Yacht Club. When we got to the Captain Marvin check in place they told us that even though it was a warm, sunny day, the water was very choppy and rough and they gave us the option to cancel. We did. Instead we found a driver to take us to Hell, the Dolphin Discovery Center, and then the beach. We spent several very enjoyable hours at the beach. The kids loved it. Later, we talked to some folks who had gone to Stingray City on a Carnival tour; they said it WAS very choppy and rough, not enjoyable at all. They wished that Carnival had given them the option to cancel.
In Cozumel we booked the Private Oasis at Passion Island through Carnival. The tour included a 45- minute ferry ride over to Passion Island, during which it poured rain. My oldest daughter was seasick. The rest of the tour was great though, even though it sprinkled off and on and was cloudy. Our group of nine had the use of a beach house with our own chef, waitress, and bartender. The staff prepared a nice lunch of steak tacos, fresh guacamole, salsa, etc. with an open bar. We had our own private beach area, too. There was quite a lot of seaweed on the beach, which the staff was working diligently to clean up. I believe this tour was for up to 12 people, and it was a good value. The ride back to the ship was much smoother.
Our 5-year-old grandson picked up an upper respiratory infection on the first day of the cruise. It didn’t slow him down too much, but his mother and my husband also caught it. My husband didn’t get it until the last day of the cruise and is still sick. It hit him hard.
The crew was very friendly and hard-working. Our steward, James, always greeted us by name. My 7-year old granddaughter was really pleased by that. I’m not sure how many cabins he had to take care of, but it was a lot. We only opted for cabin service in the evening, and James did a fine job. The crew did a lot of special things for the kids, such as bringing them cookies to decorate at the sea day brunch.
One thing we weren’t very happy about was the flights Carnival booked for us. It’s always a long day getting from Des Moines to Florida, but this day was awful. Originally, we booked the airfare through Carnival because the price was right. Our flight left Des Moines at 2:30 p.m. and was supposed to get into Miami around 10:30 p.m. (bad enough) but at some point Carnival notified us that the schedule had been changed so that we weren’t getting into Miami until 12:30 a.m. We could have changed that (for about $1800) but we ultimately decided not to. We should have.
In the end, we didn’t get into Miami until 1:45 a.m. due to weather problems causing late-arriving plane for our connection in Atlanta. Ugh. It was 3 a.m. before we got to bed. Surprisingly, the kids did well on this very long day with only minimal whining.
Overall, it was a good family vacation and we made a lot of memories. I would recommend the Horizon.
If anyone has questions I will try to answer them.