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"Good Things on the Horizon" a cruisin USA "Long and Lengthy" Cruise Novella

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Live from the Poopdeck

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I’m BACK. Yes, it’s ME. And YES, I have another “LONG AND LENGTHY” review for you all. It’s been quite a while since my last LNL review. It’s really hard to write the review, post pictures up to go with the review, and then post the actual review itself, adding pictures to go along with what you’re writing. A semi-long process considering the detail of the reviews I write. The plan is that I will have it done by Friday, when we’re going on vacation. I thank you for your patience in advance. I will say from the start, that there were quite a few OMFG moments (mostly good) that I will detail throughout the review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First things First

 

 

 

 

 

Along with the new ship would be some other “firsts” though. We had found out along the way that this was a Carnival Elite Cruise. For those who aren’t familiar with them (I wasn’t, but looked it up), it’s Carnival’s highest level gambling rewards program. Basically, they have a number of BIG TIME gamblers that Carnival invites for a free cruise. Along with the free cruise, these gamblers get a complimentary “Cheers” package (15 free drinks a day), a complimentary liquor bottle and mixers delivered to their cabin. They also get a free group excursion. Anyway, I knew I’d be seeing some real players at some point this trip. Horizon also is the first ship with pizza delivery from the Hub app. Heard they were going to be delivering them on mopeds.  Wanted to see this in action.

 

 

 

 

 

I guess the biggest “first” besides just being on a new ship was being in the specially designated Havana suites. 65 Cabins that share a private pool/Jacuzzi/bar area. No children allowed. Really looked forward to having that area till 7pm every night. More later.

 

 

 

 

 

Planning is Half the FUN….(and it really is, isn’t it?)

 

 

 

 

 

 We had been to each of these ports a few times. We decided that Mr. Sancho’s in Cozumel would be fun. We would just play it by in Grand Cayman, and we booked a special resort day in Jamaica (more later).  Went to the online store and ordered a bottle of Jägermeister and a 4 bottles of Corona w/cooler gift pack. Skipped the cabin decorations this time. They always fall anyways. We also made reservations for the Teppayaki restaurant for day 3. For this trip I also pre-ordered the premium package internet. Never did this before, and I was curious as to its actual speed.

 

 

 

 

 

A few days before the cruise, we get an email, saying that due to high port traffic expected on Sunday, that we should arrive 1 hour later than our scheduled appointment. OMFG! How come out of the 9 ships in port, it’s ours that is telling us there taking an hour away from our cruise….sigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roll Call

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been on quite a few roll calls over the years. Some with over 100 people. Some with just 8 or 9. This was a pretty good sized roll call. I just got the impression of them being “rookie” cruisers. The roll call was run by a travel agent, but he didn’t even organize a sail away party. Instead, they were having an “onesies” party for the Dive in movies the first night. Cept there was a miscommunication and some showed for the first movie, some for the second. Either way, there was NO WAY Mary Ann or I were getting into any “onesies”. The group also had a slot pull scheduled at noon followed immediately by a bar crawl. I wasn’t going to say anything, but eventually caved and pointed out to them that not only weren’t there going to be many bars open, but also that the second night is elegant night, and they might not want to get too messed up cause of the Captains Reception at 5, and they might want to look good for their Elegant night photos. That was about it for any events. Although we met up with roll call peeps along the way, we really didn’t feel as connected as on other roll calls. Fine with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre Cruise

 

 

 

 

 

We booked our flight from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale. Always cheaper than flying to Miami. We’ve cruised out of Miami MANY times. Like Goldilocks, it took us awhile to find our perfect hotel. Sorry, can’t share it with you. Maybe next review. Anyway, our favorite was sold out for our requested dates. After checking availability, I suggested Embassy Suites, Ft. Lauderdale to Mary Ann. A place we’ve stayed before. 15 minutes away from the Airport! Just LOVED their Manager party, the cooked to order breakfast, and the close proximity to Outback for a GREAT sendoff meal.

 

 

 

 

 

Well, we had our flight and hotel booked. Goodies waiting for us when we arrived. A couple of excursions booked, and a WONDERFUL cruise to look forward to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by cruisin USA

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Prelude

 

 

Finally, after months of waiting (you all know the feeling), the day came. It was a pretty cold December morning in Detroit. Fortunately, we didn’t have any snow, so the roads were good. Our flight was at 12:30. I dropped Mary Ann off to kennel our dog (our only cruise regret….sniff), and I did my last minute banking across the street. Headed back to her, and she was already standing in the parking lot. Off we went. The ride to the airport was smooth and we didn’t get stopped by too many lights. We got to the long term parking. $24 a day!! OMFG!! I remember when it was $15!! It’s probably paid for itself twice. Why does the airport have to gouge the folks already paying high airfares, as well as 2 way baggage cost? Chalk it off to being a captive audience if you choose to drive and park. Will be looking into other option on our next trip. Most flights on Delta, we get a TSA pre-check. Not this time…sigh.

 

 

We parked, took the elevators up to the terminal. The usual check in right there at the elevators was closed. We would have to take our baggage up the escalators. Geez.  The line to check is was pretty long, but went fast. Dropped off our luggage, and headed to go through security where that line was also long (go figure). Luckily, we were directed back down the escalator to the very short security line by a lady at the entrance. Our flight was on time. Good. We headed to our favorite little airport Coney Island and had breakfast before our flight. Got to our gate with enough time to stop at the store for a soda and snacks for the flight. Boarding was a snap, and soon we were taking off. The flight went smooth. I did nod off a couple times. Delta had computer screens on each backrest in front of you. You can track your flight, play games, and watch a movie. Pretty cool, and the flight went by pretty fast. Landed got our bags. And headed out to our familiar cab stand. The warm Florida air felt GREAT to a couple from the cold Midwest. We had been here many times before, and even witnessed a person drop of a heart attack at the bus stop there back in 2011. That was on our Miracle cruise. We also found out he was supposed be on our cruise, and later, that he had a Miracle of his own, and lived to tell the tale! A fifteen minute drive (and $25) later, we were at the Embassy Suites.

 

 

The cab driver dropped us and our baggage off, and we walked in to the lobby. There were lots of people hanging out. Nice hotel.  There were 4 people working the front desk. I just walked right up. Presented my driver’s license and credit card, and was told that our room wasn’t ready yet. Geez. It was after 4. The lady took my cell number, and said she’d call when the room was ready.......

 

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.....A couple of seats opened up, and we settled down with our baggage. Within 15 minutes I got a text. Walked up got our keys and we were off to the room. 7th floor. The lady said we’d have a good view of downtown Ft. Lauderdale. Got to the room. Suite!! 2 rooms, each with a large screen TV. One bedroom, with a balcony and it did have a nice view(except that the Irish Pub that was across the street was doing a complete renovation). One entertainment, with a desk and sofas. A wet bar was also on the entertainment side. The king size bed looked inviting. We’d traveled so far and had been going since early. Had to fight it off. We had to get to Publix for our cruise stuff, and had to be back by 5:30 “Managers Party”.

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......It was a short walk to Publix. We walked through the aisles, getting Mary Ann’s 2 bottles of White Zin, our Red Bull for the bottle of Jager, and a 12 pack of Pepsi for me. A box of Zicam too. We were both fighting off colds this trip.

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.......We were back within a half hour, and had a few minutes to relax before we headed down to the party which was at the hotel’s bar. There were quite a few people there already. The line to the munchies was a mile long. We headed into the bar and started enjoying the drinks on the house. We were lucky to get a table and that we got a couple in before the line started getting long. The munchie line was down by now, and I headed over to get us a couple plates. Pretzels, Chips and Salsa, Veggies and Ranch, and even Popcorn! All guaranteed to make those cocktails taste better!! Couldn’t beat the price!! Free drinks and munchies from 5:30 to 7:30! Sold! Got us a couple more drinks. We were on vacation, and surely not driving anywhere. The time flew by. Before we knew it, it was almost over. We got a last cocktail, gave up our table, and checked out the adjacent area around the pool. Lots of people out there enjoying the weather and free drinks. Not a single open chair or table. Mary Ann found a smoking area near the front, and we finished off our drinks before heading over to Outback. Free drinks and munchies. A GREAT way to start this party!!

 

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Edited by cruisin USA

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The parking lot is surrounded by a tall steel (not concrete…hehe) fence. We were heading in the right direction, but feared that we wouldn’t be able to get through from there. We kept walking and eventually found the way out, and Outback was right across the street. It was crowded on a Saturday night (what else is new?). They took our phone number, and texted us within 10 minutes. We were sat inside the bar area. Fine with us. Had a great meal, but couldn’t finish it all. Headed back to the room. We had a LONG day getting here. Didn’t take long for us to fall asleep.

 

 

Woke up the next morning from the light coming in. Mary Ann was up before me as usual, and had the coffee maker going. We had made our boarding time at 11:30, which was now 12:30.We would still have to check out by 11am though. I woke up a little late. Mary Ann suggested we skip the breakfast and concentrate on repacking, putting our cruise tags on our luggage, situate how we’re going to carry the pop and wine. 11am came pretty quick. One last once over to make sure we weren’t leaving anything, and one more look out on the balcony, and we were off!!.......to the lobby, We talked it over, and decided with a 12:30 check-in time, and a roughly half an hour drive time, plus the unsurity of how long a cab would take getting to us, plus the guaranteed traffic jam at the port, we decided that we would try to leave by 11:40. Better a little early…..

 

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........The lobby was pretty packed. No chairs available in the lobby. All the Ft. Lauderdale cruisers getting ready to board their shuttles for the short 5 minute ride over to the port. Turned the keys in, and asked about the cab. The lady at the desk told me just see the man working up at the front entrance. He would get us a cab. We ended up sitting on a ledge, baggage right beside us. You could tell we were going on a cruise. We were asked a couple of times what ship we were on. We just told them we were cruising out of Miami this trip. The lobby started to clear. We ambled over to some comfy chairs, and not long after that it was time to go!!!....to the cabstand. The guy was up there. Easy to spot. He was talking to a driver. He saw me heading towards him. He asked if I needed a cab? I said we were going to Miami. The guy with him looks at him and says. “I’ll take them down” A little pricey, but he had a nice van. We were the only ones. He was friendly. We talked about cruising on the Horizon. He had already cruised on it. Said we were going to love it. He had some smooth jazz playing. A calming soundtrack as we headed into Miami. We hit the highway. Noticed that they had taken down the Dania Beach rollercoaster… It was always cool to check it out in the middle of nowhere just off the highway. The highway started getting pretty backed up. Almost to a point of stopping. No worries. Our driver just goes right over the markers that mark the express lane. Now we’re in the express lane and making good time. The traffic terrible, and we were just loving the express lane. The driver explained that his company has a pass to use the express lane, and that a cab driver would just be sitting there, RACKING up a HUGE cab fare. Glad we pad the extra, cause that traffic jam, was MILES long heading right into Miami. God Bless the express lane. We were soon seeing the Miami skyline up close. Through the tunnel, and up towards the terminals. The traffic was awful!! Eventually we can see the Horizon. I could see out cabin!!! The driver let us off, and into the hands of the porter. We had to ask, and were directed to a guy with a hardhat and a clipboard. Handed over our luggage and headed over to the entrance of the terminal.

 

 

Platinum has its privileges. For us, the biggest perk is priority boarding. Showed our boarding passes to the person up front. They let us through to the kiosk checking passports. Just walked right up, no line. Passports checked, we headed through the metal detectors, and walked right through, without pause to the escalators leading to the causeway leading to the ships. The terminal was full of people waiting to board. On an interesting note, Carnival has a machine in the lobby that will create a miniature figurine of yourself (or couples). The machine is a big round sphere. Guessing you go inside, and it creates a 3D image which is sent to a 3D printer. We skipped it. We were chomping at the bit to board. A short walk and we were on the ramps leading to the ship!! 2 minutes later, we walked onto the deck of the Horizon.  Here at last!!!

 

 

Well, That my friends is just the introduction to my review…

Ladies and Gentlemen, with the scene set, and the characters reintroduced please continue on to read….(to be continued tomorrow)

 

 

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Good Things on the Horizon

       A cruisin USA “Long and Lengthy” Cruise Novella

 

 

 

 

Day 1-Embarkation Day

 

A short walk from the deck to the entrance of the atrium. We were in. I’d seen pics and videos of the ship, but none of them really captured the atrium as it stood there before me. We had been on the Breeze a couple of times. This was clearly the next level. A VERY cool resort vibe. Instead of the bar being off to the side, it’s the focal point, at the center of the room, with the very cool LED sculpture in the middle rising up to the ceiling(hereto refered to as the "tornado"). The sculpture would display different LED images/moving graphics throughout our voyage. Lots of people ambling about this area while waiting for the rooms to be ready.  Gone, are the glass elevators…sniff? There were staircases leading up to both decks.  As I looked up towards the 2 upper decks, I could see the shops lining the walkways. The perimeter of each level was lined with garland, and there was a HUGE Christmas tree at the base of one of the staircases leading up.  Loved it! We’d be back, but for now, we were on our way to our cabin. Aside from Priority Embarkation, being able to go directly to your cabin is a FABULOUS Platinum perk, and we were going to take full advantage. We lugged our carryon’s over to the elevator to get up to deck 6. I had seen a video on how these elevators worked. Basically, you just have to tap the pad on the deck you wish to go to as many times as people in your party. I went over to touch the pad. I got a quick “Hey” (as in “What are you doing there buster?”) from the red t shirt gal working there, who was there to show people how to use the elevators. I had done it right and we were assigned an elevator to wait for. This system really works, and we were impressed throughout the trip on our short elevator wait times. Up to deck 6, starboard side, and all the way back. What Mary Ann and I refer to as the “usual”. From front of the ship to the back is a pretty long walk. Took a few minutes, but soon we were at our cabin. Like mentioned earlier, we were in the Havana suites section of the ship, which I now understood once seeing the change in the décor as we passed through. The Havana suites I could see were the aft cabins along with the cabins I had on the 5th deck, with the porches and swings. Our room keys were in our mailbox. Opened up the envelope, and found that instead of inserting a key, all I had to do was touch our SNS cards to the sensor to unlock the door. Pretty cool. Hadn’t heard about this.

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Stepped into our cabin, 6469. Triangular in shape, sure liked the departure from the Carnival orange of past. All of our Bon Voyage items were sitting on our long desk. We put our red bull and Pepsi in the fridge and unpacked our carry on stuff. On the king sized bed was the luggage mat and our first copy of the “Fun Times”, the ships daily paper, and a letter explaining about the Havana suites. The cabin had a large screen TV which was tuned to the embarkation channel. We spread our “Surrender the Booty” towel on the couch. Been on MANY cruises with us. Aside from the triangular shape, this is a typical Carnival cabin, except for one other very big point…..the Balcony!! Just LOVE this balcony. We were parked right next to the Magic. This was our "office" for the next 6 days!!

 

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Edited by cruisin USA

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That's our room.....Please have more pictures and info about it how its different shape worked.

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10 hours ago, cruisin USA said:

For this trip I also pre-ordered the premium package internet. Never did this before, and I was curious as to its actual speed.

 

 

How did this work for you, was it comparable to your home network speed?

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how much was your cab from Ft.Lauderdale to Port of Miami?

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Getting ready to continue........

 

1st. pcvtmom, jimbri and Janice B. Thank you for your kind words.

 

2nd. Jenjer.... Patience.

 

3rd Roxxy, I hate to admit it but it was $85 for the both of us. I did end up tipping $15 to make it and even $100. We were  the only ones in the van. That was nice. I know that it usually costs about $75.00 by cab(plus tip). The driver was cool, and said I had a "California vibe", whatever that is. All I know, is that I saw all those miles of cars at a standstill while we were TRUCKIN through the express lane. The cab sure wouldn't. The Uber sure couldn't. Well worth it to us!

 

4. markntara......The internet was superb. Although facetime was not an option. From what I understand, there is a modem in every room, which certainly will boost signal. Internet throughout the ship was FAST!

 

With questions answered and a tip of the cap,  I will resume the review shortly

 

 

Gary

 

 

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......It was a coolish, partly cloudy day in Miami. It sure felt good to have finally arrived! After we soaked it all in for a while, we decided we would take the cooler, get lunch, fill said cooler with ice, and back to the cabin to ice down our supplies. We headed to the elevators and up to Deck 10, Lido. This area is no different than on other Carnival ships the aft elevators usually bring you right to the lido buffet. We walked out the elevator doors, and could easily see the entrances on each side up to the buffet. The buffet is different from most ships though. Instead of the traditional 2 long buffet lines, the Horizon has 4 square stations with the same thing at each station. 4 sides of hot pans to choose from at each. In the center of each of these stations is a person to help serve, or carve you the cut of the day. The guy was carving turkey, and that sounded good. Lil cranberry sauce, over to the mashed potatoes, a couple of samples of some of the other dishes, and I was pretty good. We picked a spot by a window, and had our lunch overlooking the Miami skyline.  Enjoyed the view, and that turkey, sure hit the spot!! After lunch, I went over to the ice machine, and filled our 12x12x12 Carnival cooler. Had to stop a couple times to let people get their drink ice, but the machine poured it out quickly. Back to Mary Ann, who was still sitting at the table? We headed to the back elevators, and down to the cabin to ice our stuff. Mary Ann suggested that we stop and get a cocktail on the way. I was ALL for that. Stopped at the Tides bar. For our first cocktails of the trip.

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I liked the new layout of the lido aft area. Like the atrium bar, now the bar is in the center of the deck (directly aft of the elevator doors) instead of off to the side (directly aft of the Pizza Pirate) like most ships aft-lido bar.  Definitely the center of the action!!

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.......Drinks in hand, we headed back to the cabin. No luggage yet. We iced down our booty, and enjoyed our drinks out on our balcony. Our room steward “Kemmy” stopped by, and introduced himself. He asked if we would like nighttime or daytime cabin service. “Nighttime”, of course, was our answer. I did explain that we had a cooler that we place in the shower that would need ice every night, but other than that we were pretty easy. He smiled, and off he went.  Eventually, the luggage came (love priority baggage handling, another Platinum perk), we unpacked, which took a while. Hooked up the over the door shoe holder for our toiletries. Filled it fast. No sooner had we finished, they were making the announcement that they’d be signaling momentarily for the muster drill. First the signal and announcements for the crew. Shortly after, our signal came, and we exited our door, and into the hallway. There was a door open leading to a stairway not 10 feet away. We were directed through, and down some pretty steep steps. 2 levels down, and we walked through the doors into the Meridian dining room. There was a person there to scan Mary Ann’s SNS card. After that was read, they didn’t need mine. We just found a couple of chairs and waited. Better than standing in a crowded (almost claustrophobic) hallway out on deck. We waited quite a while for everyone to show at each muster station. They wouldn’t begin until almost all were accounted for. When the announcement did start they said that there would be a muster briefing for those not attending…sigh. Crew members came out at various parts of the dining room. They showed us how to put on a life vest (I liken it to the airplane stewards showing you how to buckle your seat belt), they also informed us that we were to meet right here, where we are right now in case of an emergency. The announcement spoke of the importance of children wearing wristbands, so that they could be reunited with the parents at their muster station during an emergency. The announcements paused for a couple of minutes.  Curious? The announcer came back and said that people with special needs could exit, but everyone else would have to wait till the drill was officially announced as over. And a couple minutes later, the last signal!! We were on VACATION at last!!!

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.....Of course they locked our short cut from where we came off. Doors shut. You’d never know there was a stairway behind them. We might have had late boarding, but we sure weren’t the last ship to leave port. It was 4:15 when we felt the thrusters move us away from the dock, and into the canal. We were underway!! By now our stuff had been on ice, and it was time to REALLY start the party. Uncorked Mary Ann’s wine, opened a Corona for me, and poured out our first Jagerbombs of the cruise. On the way out we pass the Allure of the Sea. Isn’t that the same type of ship that the new Carnival Mardi Gras is based on??.....

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......We made our way out through the channel, past Miami Beach, and out into the Atlantic. Started getting dark by 6 o’clock. After watching Miami fade into the sunset we settled down for a bit in our cabin.......

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.....After a bit, I stepped into the cabin and scanned the Fun Times to see what was going on for Day 1. The Welcome Aboard show is always a must for us. It’s a good way to meet the cruise director, and they usually have some fun and sample of the entertainment that you’ll see during the cruise. Other than that, Comedy that night sounded good. We were playing it by ear. We turned the TV on as we got ready for dinner. Not as many channels as before. Mostly ships channels, with a few others thrown in. No CBS, NBC, ABC; they did have a couple of cartoon channels. A movie channel, TNT (sort of), CNN (blah). We were both hungry, and were looking forward to our first MDR meal of the trip. Our instructions for your time dining told us we had to go next to the Java Blue café on deck 5. Hmmmm? The dining room is in back, why do we have to go up midship to get our table? Didn’t know why, but off we went. Not too far, that’s for sure. We walked down to deck 4, and worked our way up past Ocean Plaza to the desk where 2 gals were handing out paper slips for you to hand them as you walk into the dining room. We walked back, down the steps, and handed the slip to the woman at the front station. She gave the slip to another woman who led us all the way back to the glass of the aft windows.....

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