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Carnival Horizon for NCL cruisers

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Hi all. Thanks for any help in advance. My husband and I are looking into booking a 6 day cruise on carnival horizon next spring for us and our daughter. We are both 31 and love NCLs freestyle type of cruising. We have only sailed Carnival once and that was 6 years ago on the Freedom. I remember us thinking that the food and entertainment weren’t as good as we experienced on NCL. Can anyone who cruises both Carnival and NCL let me know if you found the food and entertainment better than it used to be? 

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I've cruised both lines and this is my opinion (although I have not cruised on the Horizon, I cruised on the Vista):

* NCL has better MUCH theater shows. There's no comparison in that department. Also, the theater on the Horizon and Vista are not set up well at all.  It is more like an old fashioned theater that has movable chairs on the floor level.  
* As far as entertainment, there is a lot to do on the Vista class ships
* Carnival has much better comedy shows due to the number of comedians and the number of shows that aren't repeats
* Carnival has better food and food options.  As far as food outside of the dining room for lunch, they have Guy's Burgers (great burgers) and Mexican food (love the taco salads and burritos) by the pool. They also have BBQ, but we weren't impressed with it.
* I think the drink service is better on Carnival because the packages are not offered as a free perk, so they always have plenty of crew members walking around asking if you would like a drink
* No reservations needed for Carnival's shows, but the adult comedy shows can get crowded so you will need to go early. Also, because of the way the theater is set up on this class of ship, you will need to get to the theater early to get a decent seat.
* The game shows, bingo, and things like that are equal on both lines.  But the game shows on Carnival will be in the theater or a lounge and not in the center of the ship.  Sometimes the Norwegian game show area was so packed that we had to stand.  That was no fun.

The any time dining on Carnival is similar to the freestyle on NCL.  If you book early with Carnival, you can get it.  If you book later, you can be put on a waitlist and you may or may not get it.  We got it for my cruise that is coming up, but I was unable to get it for one of my previous cruises.

Carnival has self-service laundry.  They also have an "excursion" called Faster to the Fun.  This sells out quickly, but can come up as available at random times up until the cruise.  It has perks such as boarding before the general passengers, your cabin will be available immediately upon boarding the ship, and a special line at guest services, among a few other things.

I personally like Carnival  better than Norwegian, although I am planning a cruise on Norwegian at the end of the year with family members.


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Food is subjective, so I will leave that issue alone. If your definition of entertainment includes attending shows, you are likely to be disappointed on Horizon. Like the previous poster mentioned, the theaters (called lounges on Vista class ships) are way too small for the size of the ships and have lots of seats with poor sight lines. If shows are important to you, you are more likely to enjoy a Dream class or Conquest class ship. 

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We've cruised both lines a lot.    Agree that Carnival used to have great production shows but that has drastically changed over the years.    Food is subjective, in fact, I prefer NCL's over Carnival's.    If you're hungry on a cruise, you're too picky!  🤣


We were on Horizon last May and liked it a lot.   Very nice ship.    Have fun!    

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