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Carnival Horizon August 16-20th, NYC to Bermuda Review

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Carnival Horizon August 16-20th, NYC to Bermuda

 

My sister and I took this cruise as a fun quick trip. We loved the idea of sailing out of NYC and didn’t have a lot of time off from work to take a longer cruise so this fit the bill. Plus neither of us had been to Bermuda and were looking forward to checking it out and maybe planning a future cruise with a longer stay there. I usually cruise yearly with my two sisters and my Mom and have cruised on Royal (Liberty of the Seas and Oasis twice),Regal Princess, an older Celebrity a couple of times and Carnival once. I don’t have a ton of cruises under my belt but have been yearly for the last 6 years or so. We took Amtrak from RI to NYC, then a cab to the pier – super simple and relaxing.

 

 

Embarkation: Quick! Came into the terminal at 12:30 and we had the 12-12:30 boarding window. Gave our bags to the porter and we were through security and walking onto the ship in about 15 minutes. Supereasy!

 

 

Atrium – Awesome! Loved the ever changing funnel and was really looking forward to that as I've seen many pictures of it from all the previous reviews and YouTube videos. I really liked the feel of the atrium. My very first cruise was on Carnival and I’ve not been on one until the Horizon. I can’t remember what ship it was but it went from Tampa and was either the Imagination or Inspiration maybe. I do remember the ship was butt ugly but I was so blown away by how big it was, how good the food was and just what a blast cruising was that I didn’t really care – I was hooked. For me, I like the subtle décor of the Horizon atrium over the more fancy and tall atrium that others mention that they missed on this ship but I think that is just a personal preference. I thought the chairs they have in the atrium are really comfortable and we were always able to grab two and get some good people watching in, even at busier times. We didn’t stop for a first drink at the Atrium Bar as we were anxious to look around the ship, plus we needed coffee.

 

 

Ocean Plaza – we made our way to Ocean Plaza as we were looking for coffee. We had a really good one at the Java coffee shop and the prices are good – just got regular black coffee and the large was $2.25 (ish). After trying the complimentary coffee on the ship we stuck to buying it at the coffeeshop– life’s too short for crummy coffee, especially on vacation! We checked out the outside deck off the OceanPlaza which is really well appointed with large chairs and tables with umbrella's. We saw a bunch of cruisers enjoying Guy’s lunch BBQ – it looked and smelled great but we never ended up eating there on our cruise (the lunch) – just didn’t have time to fit it in this cruise. By this time it was 1:30 and we went up to check out our room.

 

 

Room 7265 – we booked an inside cabin and always try to be towards the front on a mid level floor, near the stairs. This room was perfect! It was right off the stairs, which we used most the time. We were on 5 a lot so this was super convenient at just two floors up or down. It was also only a few flights to the LidoDeck and food. I was a little concerned about being right over the arcade and near the theaters but I did not hear a thing! Also, didn’t hear any elevator or stair traffic noise either. The room was nice and well laid out. It had plenty of space for both of us and our stuff but being a short cruise we packed light. I thought the décor in the hallway was really cute with the doors that look like they are louvered and the beach scene pictures. Nice touch and really feels like vacation. Our room was well attended to and cleaned each morning, although we didn’t see our room attendant until the next day. Our luggage arrived just as we were done checking out the room – right after 1:30 so we were able to unpack and get that done before the muster drill.

 

 

Muster Drill – ours was in the liquid lounge at the front of the ship. It was fine but I think we waited longer than necessary due to stragglers that didn’t get to their station on time. They should make a bigger deal about the muster drill when people are checking in – I just think that people are think it’s optional so stressing this as they are checking in might be helpful. When we got out of the muster we were already backing out of the slip so we booked it up to deck 11 for the sail away.

 

 

Sail Away – just as awesome as I hoped it would be! We had a clear and sunny beautiful day so the city view was spectacular. We overlooked the sail away party with Mike Pack – was fun to watch everyone having a good time dancing the music. We headed up to the Serenity Deck for our first cocktail (Carnival Cosmo) and to watch the ship go under the bridge. That was really cool and the crowd on the Serenity Deck was in party mode!

 

 

Dinners – we had dinner the first night at Guys’ Pig andAnchor. We weren’t super hungry so we shared the flatbread– I can’t remember the name of it but it had pulled pork onit. It was $6 and unbelievably delicious– loaded with toppings and great flavors. Plenty if you are really hungry and large enough to easily share. I also had my sights on the Bacon Manhattan that is on Guy’s drink menu and it did not disappoint – smoky and delicious! We had dinner time in the MDR at 8:15 seating and went on formal night and the night we went to Bermuda. We had a table for two and it was great. Our server was excellent,friendly and quick both nights. The food was very good – not out of this world amazing but solidly good. I had the lobster on elegant night and short ribs on the 2nd night. I had the chocolate melting cake both nights and was so looking forward to it and its fantastic! So yummy, chocolatey,gooey and all over awesomeness! My sister had the lobster too and had lasagna the 2nd night – she said that was just OK, not great. We did the Bonsai sushi place for a light dinner the last night – I had the little salad and the shrimp tempura – both excellent and definitely worth trying. The prices are ala cart and I think the salad was $2 and the shrimp was $6 – around that price anyway.

 

 

Market Place – we are not big buffet people so we kind ofjust grazed there a bit but nothing overly memorable because we didn’t choose it for a meal other than on debark day for breakfast and it was fine. I did have some of the buffalo chicken lasagna that I think was served on sail away night and that was soooo very good– surprisingly cheesy, tender and flavorful. I’ve seen a lot of complaints that the buffet is repetitive with the same station of food and no variety. While I do agree that the variety of foods is not as extensive as I’ve experienced on other lines in the buffet, the multiple stations with the same foods is kind of genius as it allowed more flow and less waiting in line for the food. Having said that, there is plenty of complimentary food options on this ship so don’t be concerned about that. We checked out the cakes that they serve daily – I think this is a nice touch and it is really fun to check them out to see what varieties they have for the day. They look so amazing sitting in their cases and they are really good too – not too sweet and all the ones we tried were moist and had good flavor to them. I really wanted to try them with the soft serve ice cream but just never did,although we did try the soft serve once – it was OK – not great, but definitely hit the spot if you want ice cream. We were always able to easily find a space to sit down in the Market Place area. As crowded as the ship was, this just wasn’t an issue. This was a major challenge on the Oasis, which helped turn us off to eating in the buffets on cruise ships. That was a pleasant surprise and if I go back on the Horizon, I would be more inclined to hit the buffet knowing I can easily get a seat. I HATE walking around and around trying to find a table while my food gets cold and I get hungrier and more frustrated!

 

 

Guys Burger – yep, they live up to the hype! Juicy, meaty, tasty. We went twice. The first time we just split the burger with the onion ring on it. As I said, we were grazing a bit because we wanted to try a bunch of things and not get too stuffed all at once so we did actually split the burger and fries. Delish! Don’t be discouraged if you see a long line It moves really fast and there are two lines serving food. Those guys crank out the food and work their tails off in that hot grill area all day. Those fries are the best too! We each had our own burger and fries when we got back to the ship after Bermuda and again, they were awesome. We had the onion ring one.

 

 

Cocktails – neither of us got the drink package. We like our cocktails at night but don’t liketo drink during the day and don’t care for the fruity/sugary drinks that areserved everywhere. The drink prices areexcellent with most being around $10 each, which is a bargain compared toRoyal, which are running about $13 bucks each and could be skimpy. I could not wait to get to the Alchemy Bar –we did the Martini Tasting on the first night. That is the only night they do it on the 4 night cruise. Annamaria in the Alchemy is awesome and soare her coworkers – super fun and make for a festive atmosphere. The martini tasting was fun and although thedrinks were on the sweet side, they were all really good and surprisingly hard to put into the right order once you started tasting them. My sister found her new favorite drink from the martini tasting and she kept going back to each night for it – the Fiery Tropical Passion Martini. I had that as one of my martini tasting selections and that actually was my favorite too,although I stuck with my go to Manhattan’s each night. They made them just perfect at the AlchemyBar. We had cocktails at a few other bars but they weren’t quite as good, though still tasty. The Alchemy drinks are a bit more at I think$12 but well worth it. I think Carnival has Royal beat in the cocktails category and Royal could use a craft cocktail bar – I think they are missing the mark on that but maybe they’ve added it with dry dock enhancements. Neither one of us drink soda so we just stuck to water and the coffee shop coffee. I also had ordered a 12 pack of water for our room – so glad I did that and never realized that was an option but saw it mentioned as a tip from someone else. It was $4 for the 12 pack and it was waiting in our room. We wanted to have at least one chocolate martini but still hadn’t had one by the last day and also had not checked out the Havana Bar so we did that the last night. We got to the bar before the band started their later evening set when they play the more lively music so it was still quiet. Our drinks were fantastic and we enjoyed the music for about a ½ hour. We were probably too early for the action to really get going but we at least got there and I can imagine it is really fun when the room is packed. The band is excellent and it would have been fun to see them in full on mode when the place is jumping and everyone is dancing.

 

 

Pools/Lido, Aft, Serenity – It is true, the pools are tiny,tiny, tiny! Definitely not adequate fora ship of this size. Having said that,we are not sit by the pool people and we tend to move around frequently so this was not an issue for us and we were able to get outdoor loungers in other areas or on deck 5 - the best outdoor space on any ship I’ve been on. The loungers are snagged early and stay that way all day on the Lido and the other aft pool but that is no different from any ship I’ve been on. I just think if that is your thing and you want to be by the pool all day, you are probably the ones that always get up early and snag a spot so just be prepared to do that if that’s really important to you. I do think they miss the mark on not having a small pool on the

 

 

Serenity Deck. I’m not a fan of the clam shell loungers. They take up valuable real estate that would be better served with just loungers and maybe make space for a small pool. They look cool but are a waste of space. In comparison to the Solarium on Oasis – NO COMPARISON! Oasis wins hands down with more space dedicated here and a nice pool in their Solarium. Disclosure: we have never cruised in the summer during school vacation as we usually cruise in February when kids are at a minimum so this cruise had a different feel for us. The pools and hot tubs are loaded with kids so we only dipped in a couple of times when we were really hot. Not sure how clean they were considering I rarely saw a kid in the pool area bathrooms when I used them –EWWW! I heard that they drain the pools each night but I’m not sure if that is true – I didn’t check to verify.

 

 

Crowds – the ship was full of families of all sizes – from babies, to teens and grandparents. It was fun seeing all the families really enjoying vacations together. My sister and I kept commenting to each other when we saw teens around the ship, how much fun they must be having with being able to roam around on their own and do so many different activities! I didn’t see any unruly teens or kids at all – they were a nice group of cruisers just enjoying the last days of summer vacation. I thought because our room was near the arcade and movies that we might encounter teens roving around and being punky, but there was none of that. I didn’t feel the crowds were an issue with what we did or any activities we wanted to partake in other than the pools. We didn’t do the pizza so I’m not sure how that was. We didn’t have a wait for the cakes each day – I think I heard there were always lines but we never had a line. Again, don’t worry about a line at Guy’s Burgers as it goes quick. We were able to get seats at Alchemy and Guys Pig and Anchor when we went, as well as getting seats in the Atrium a few times when we went there

 

 

Entertainment – the strings trio is fantastic so we enjoyed it when they played in the Atrium. Don't miss the Celestrial Strings show It is fantastic and not too long either, which I like. Amazing talent with that group and truly an enjoyable show. We arrived later than I wanted to for the show but there was space in one of the circular banquets on the ground floor that we were able to sit at and we had primo viewing. I don’t have an issue going early to shows and waiting (with a cocktail!) but we lucked out on our late arrival to this show. The venue for the show isn’t great as others have commented on – Oasis and all the other ships I’ve been on are hands down much better – a true theater set up that allows for optimal viewing. The Liquid Lounge does have blocked site lines and also has the tall glass on the 2nd story, which is Not Good! We sat up there for our muster drill and I remember thinking that I don’t want to be sitting up here for a show.

 

 

Comedy – we saw both comedian’s on the ship. Both their X rated and PG shows. They were pretty good – I’d give them a solid 8. I didn’t belly laugh but they were entertaining. I always know the comedy was really good when we end up repeating a funny line or bit for days after the show and they didn’t have anything memorable but it was a fun time.

 

 

Piano Bar – we went to the piano bar and had a blast with Eden at his sing along. He is adorable and charming, funny and very talented. We sang along and just had a great time with him and the crowd there. We were able to sit right at the piano bar so that made the experience even more enjoyable

 

 

Thrill Theater – we purchased tickets at the theater kioskfor the 2nd trio of films. That was fun and worth the $5.50 charge. We never got to the Imax. Weconsidered it on our last sea day but the weather was a little stormy and theboat was rocking some so we were a little iffy on if seeing the Imax might makeus nauseous. The ship wasn’t movingenough to cause us issues at all but we didn’t want to chance it so we decidedagainst it. I didn’t run into anyonethat did the Imax but I’m sure it was great

 

 

Tea @ 3 – We decided to try the tea time on our Friday Sea Day. The strings trio played while we had regular tea (nothing fancy) and choices of desserts and a couple small sandwiches. It was in the 2nd floor of the main dining room. We were put at a table of 10 so it was not relaxing and a little awkward to get the conversations started. We aren’t super outgoing people – friendly but not ones who prefer sitting with a table of strangers and it didn’t seem that the others were too. It wasn’t a bad experience but it wasn’t relaxing to me and I wouldn’t do it again. Or if I did, I would ask for a table for just our party. I just remember thinking, can we go now? I can’t compare it to anything else. Princess does a tea time but we just nevergot around to it but I hear it is excellent. I’d try it again on another line just so I can compare to this one.

 

 

Cooking Demo – We got in line for the cooking demo in Farenheit 555 on the first sea day. We were able to snag seats in the front row to the side. I had no idea how popular these cooking demos were as the whole restaurant eventually filled in. Duh!!! They started the demo of the first dish, a salad, and then started-coming out with samples of it – we’d never been to a cooking demo so we didn't realize we got to sample the food they cooked so we were excited about that(newbies I guess!). The food was fantastic – salad, chicken cacciatore, a soup and tiramisu for dessert. My only criticism of the presentation is that I think it would have been nice for the host to ask the chefs where they are from and where they went to school, how long on the ship, etc…. They work so hard for us to enjoy their great food and it would have been nice to make it a bit more personal.

 

 

Trivia – we did the trivia a couple of times in the Ocean Plaza – it was fun but the host was just a little bit hard to understand at times. It’s trivia so really no big deal - we were incredibly bad at it anyway so we were not even close to getting a ship on a stick! Before the trivia, they had complimentary crafting sessions and I thought that was awesome for kids and families….really a nice touch Carnival! We didn’t do the crafting activities but tons did and seemed to be having a great time.

 

 

White Party – we were tired on our last day but I really wanted to do the white party in the atrium and we had a blast dancing and singing along with Mike Pack and his team. That was really fun so don’t miss it!

Slides – we kind of forgot about them and jumped on right before they closed them for the evening. We did the one on the right without the tube. It was awesome and I wished we could have done it again but just never got to it.

 

 

Elevators – we didn’t use them a lot based on our activities and where our room was located but found them efficient and quick when we did. Press the floor you want for each person going…in our case, I pressed Deck 12 twice. They came very quick and I thought they worked great. I didn’t hear a lot of complaining so I’m thinking that prior cruisers sharing the tip about pressing the button for the number of people in your party has gotten out enough so people are doing it. Embarkation day and after busy shows are the most hectic for the elevators but that is every ship I’ve been on.

 

 

Didn’t Get to – I wanted to get one of the ice cream waffle cones from Cherry on Top but we just never got there. We did get some candy but were either too full or looking for cocktails when we walked by there so I’ll have to hit that up next time! Didn’t get to try the Blue Iguana Cantina but we did have some margaritas at the Blue Iguana Bar – very good, strong drinks! Being a short cruise, you just can’t get to everything you want to do…hmmm, may need to book the Horizon again! Skyride – we went to go on it our first sea day but admittedly were going late at mid-morning. The line was 60 minutes so we just skipped it. Not a big deal but I would have liked to have tried it. It was closed on our last sea day due to the weather. It was fun watching the people do it. We were sitting under it at the aft pool when they fly around the corner and it was fun seeing their faces –some of terror, others of pure joy! We didn't get to the Havana pool after 7 pm – it looks amazing but just had other activities we wanted to do. For lunch,we didn’t try the Guy’s BBQ lunch or the Italian restaurant or the Asian wok –we checked them all out and thought they were awesome COMPLIMENTARY options. I especially appreciated the Italian and wok options since those are sit down restaurants, which appealed to us since the buffet isn’t our first choice for a food option. I think that is a really nice touch that Carnival does that I’ve not experienced on other lines other than going to the MDR for a sit down lunch. (Actually, Princess does have a complimentary sit down restaurant - it's Italian and pizza. I can't remember the name of it but it was excellent).

 

 

Debarkation – we selected #30 for our departure slip, which was the latest since we didn’t have to rush back as our train was not until 2pm. The slips are available at noon on deck 10 on the last sea day. We had coffee at Java and just hung around a bit, then headed up to the MarketPlace for breakfast. We were a little late so the choices were limited but it was good – I had eggs benedict and an omelet –both very tasty. Once final call to debark was announced, we headed down and was into the terminal in a few minutes. We grabbed our bags and got inline for customs. I think we were inline for about 10-15 minutes – not long. Then we herded out to the street in a crowd! You have to schlep across the street for a cab or I think you can go up to the arrival deck and get a taxi there. It was a bit of a cluster and was a little drizzly so for someone not familiar or comfortable with NYC, this part isn't great. I felt bad for folks if they were trying to meet a pick up or didn’t know what they were doing or for older people that had difficulties getting around! We are both familiar with NYC – my sister lived there for a few years recently and I visit fairly often. We walked up one block and called an Uber – that was easy and quick.

 

 

Tips I Tried – read a lot of good tips so figured I’d give a couple a try. Bought a pack of 4 magnets to use to hang hats and other stuff. They are unbelievably strong and work great. Also bought a small clear shoe organizer. I was not able to hang it from any of the doors because the hangers that come with it don’t allow the doors to close. I ended up using 3 of my magnets to hold it on the wall. This worked really good for all the small items like charging cords, socks, snacks, Kindle,rolled up hats, makeup, etc…that would typically be strewn all over the desk or nightstands. There probably is a way to hang this to make it work on a door but I’ll probably just buy another 4 pack of magnets and bring those too since 3 are needed for the organizer. Bought SeaBands for sea sickness as I had heard that going from NYC can be rougher seas. Neither of us needed them, even though it was fairly rocky on the last sea day. We’ve never been sea sick on a cruise but do take Dramamine at the start of the cruise and sometimes don't need to continue to use it and taper that off. Sherry from Cruise Tips TV has a shopping page for Amazon so these items were purchased from there (http://www.cruisetipstv.com/). She also has great You Tube video’s for all things cruising.

 

 

Overall – This ship is lovely. I like the layout of it a lot and deck 5 –the outside deck space and venues they have there are a true triumph! Don’t let the negative reviews scare you off –I’ve seen horrible reviews for every ship I’ve been on and never have I had a bad experience or not enjoy the cruise. Any day on a cruise is a great day! One thing that we both noticed was that the common areas and bathrooms didn’t seem as picked up as we are used to on other ships. Dirty trays lingered for awhile at the Marketplace, bathrooms had toilet paper and tissues on the floor…not gross dirty, just a general lack of attentiveness or help maybe, in key areas that was noticeable to us. Having said that, the ship overall is very clean and well cared for. I was surprised that they didn’t stress the hand washing at all. This was really weird to us since you cannot get away from the “washy washy” on other ships we’ve been on. This may have been even more key on a ship with lots of kids since they may not always be as attuned to wash their hands frequently. We didn’t purchase any pictures but the Pixels area is so fantastic. We hardly ever have our pictures taken when we cruise but decided to do it this cruise so it was really fun to see the pictures on the I pads that are set up. This is a game-changer Carnival– very well done and we saw a ton of people looking at and purchasing pictures. The Pixel set- up is clean, attractive and inviting. The HUB app is awesome! We used it constantly to check what was going on and to flag any activities so we’d get an alert before the start time. I don’t know if the other lines are doing something similar- they probably do on Oasis but we didn’t do that (sailed on her Feb 2018). I would look for this type of feature on any future cruises as I really liked it much better than the paper Fun Times – I looked at that but liked having the info on my phone. We did the social media package but really only used it a couple of times to check in on my son via FB messenger. I’d use it again for the price ($4/day pre cruise purchase). I would sail on her again but would either book when kids are in school or would spring for the Havana area. Carnival is definitely for families and they do it well! Our next cruise is a 7 day on the Harmony of the Seas in May next year and it’s always fun to compare the ships – the good and bad.

 

 

Happy Cruising!

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Great review, I think you captured the essence of the ship. Thanks for doing it.

 

 

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Great review, I think you captured the essence of the ship. Thanks for doing it.

 

 

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Thanks so much! I so much enjoyed reading your reviews and was inspired by you and others who posted great reviews that I wanted to provide one myself!

 

 

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Thanks so much! I so much enjoyed reading your reviews and was inspired by you and others who posted great reviews that I wanted to provide one myself!

 

 

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Thanks, you did us proud

 

 

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Thank you for the review! It felt really authentic and helpful.

 

I’m leaving on Horizon this Tuesday !

 

 

 

Thanks so much! Have a blast on your cruise and enjoy!!! You must be so excited!

 

 

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Thanks for the review. I LOVED reading how you perceived the ship to be well-suited for families and teens and that the kids generally seemed well-behaved. I will have 2 teens and a tween on a Christmas cruise. We have cruised Disney once and they loved the ability to have freedom to roam the ship. Some of the reviews have tainted my perception of the peers they may encounter. Your review makes me think it will be great!

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Thank you!

Once in Bermuda ( Somers Isles) so so many things to see you will be back. R.I. has so much history in it as well.

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What day is formal night?

 

 

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Formal night was the first sea day. I think it is the same on a 7 night but not sure what day the 2nd elegant night is.

 

 

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Thanks for the review. I LOVED reading how you perceived the ship to be well-suited for families and teens and that the kids generally seemed well-behaved. I will have 2 teens and a tween on a Christmas cruise. We have cruised Disney once and they loved the ability to have freedom to roam the ship. Some of the reviews have tainted my perception of the peers they may encounter. Your review makes me think it will be great!

 

 

 

How fun! I’ve never done a Christmas cruise so you’ll have to tell us all about! Your kids will have a blast and you’ll probably never see them!

 

 

 

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