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CheckersMidwest

HORIZON MAY 18-26 2019

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We sailed on the Horizon May 18 2019 - 8 day Southern Caribbean .This was our 6th Carnival cruise.  Our daughter chose it for her college graduation trip. 🙂 We stopped in Grand Turk, La Ramona Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba. We had abundant sunshine the entire trip. It rained a little on sail away night and again late afternoon the last day.

 

We flew in from Kansas City to Ft Lauderdale. A college friend of my husband's is great to pick us up and take us to the port the next day. We went to the Margarittaville on the beach and ate at Land Shark. Good food and they were having live entertainment.

 

We had a Havana Cabana and loved it. We usually have two cabins (one for us and one for our kids) but our son got married last fall so didn't go with us this time. I took a few extra organization things for the cabin and we did ok with 3 people. I wouldn't do it all the time, but it is definitely doable. I took cheap plastic baskets to hold things on the shelves by the vanity in the room and a clear mesh hanging shoe organizer for all kinds of things - meds, hair stuff, lint roller, etc. We really liked the Havana area. No one under the age of 12 can stay in that section. One wristband for each person in the cabin is issued (in an envelope on the vanity when we entered our room). We could access the pool by the walkway outside our cabana. There is a sign by the door to the pool from the Havana bar that says no one past that point without a wristband. There was always an available chair. The pool was not overcrowded. We saw the same people over & over and had great conversations. The bar staff (Ronno, Jose, etc) were great as were the lifeguards. We had excellent service and they knew us by name. The area was busy but not uncomfortably so. After 7:00 pm that area is open to everyone.

 

We had Faster To The Fun, as we usually do. We arrived at the Miami port at 11:00. Dropped off our bags, checked in, and waiting in 18 minutes. Debarkation was taking longer than normal but we were still onboard around noonish. We get FTTF so we can board early. That's our first day of vacation so we want to spend it on the ship and not sitting around a hotel waiting to check out. Want to make the most of every minute ! With FTTF, we can go directly to our cabin & drop off any carry on stuff. Our luggage is usually already there and we can quickly unpack anytime. Three of our six bags were there . The other three didn't arrive until after 8:00 pm. We dress up a bit every night for dinner and ended up going to eat in our regular clothes. It was fine, but I was irritated. The non FTTF family at our table had their luggage early. This is the second time we had the priority luggage issue. Not a deal breaker, but it is a service I paid for. I also like the priority line at guest services. The few times I needed to stop there, a long line waited on the other side.

 

We had assigned 6:00 pm dinner in the Reflections dining room. We sat a table of 9. Shout out to Katleyn & Joe's families. Coincidentally, we were all on the same facebook group. It was fun hearing what each other had done in each port or around the ship. Great tablemates!

 

We had prepurchased the Bubbles for my daughter & I. (I am an avid Pepsi drinker :)). No cheers for us. I like a good pina colada or margaritta by the pool but no way we'd drink 15 a day each. We paid for alcohol as we went. I also booked and paid for a couple of spa services when they were having the sale. More on that later ~

 

 

 

 

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Our head waiter for dinner was Rachman (Rocketman, as he refers to himself). They were quick & effecient & friendly. My daughter & I always had a cold soda waiting for us when we sat down. He had two assistants and they were great as well. Everyone was always on time and we were done usually by 7:30. As usual, the Creme Brulee was excellent. I ate a lot of warm chocolate melting cake too. I enjoyed everything I ordered with the exception of the cornmeal crusted chicken on the last night.

 

Oh - meant to wave to Smurf - we sailed with him & his wife in 2015 out of Miami for our daughter's high school and our son's college graduation trip. Coincidentally we were on this same sailing and the Dominican excursion. Small world !

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First thing we did was drop off our carry on stuff. We wandered around the Havana area and then went to eat. My husband went to the Pig & Anchor BBQ. He loves BBQ (we're use to Kansas City BBQ.....) I'd read that the line to eat here is the shortest on embarkation day. It's buffet style at lunch - they serve you but you pick what you want. They had 4 meats , baked potato, salad, cole slaw, beans, etc. He sampled a bit of each. He ate here a couple other times too and didn't have to wait very long. It's good, but not sure it was barbequed. There were a couple of smokers there, but never saw them fired up.

 

Daugher & I went to the buffet. I had a reuban from the deli and we sampled the salads and misc.

 

I'd also read that this was the day that the line for the skyride would be at it's shortest, so we headed out to Sportsquare. We played a round of mini golf and then road the skyride. I'm afraid of heights and this was huge for me ! It was fun & we tried to do it again on the last couple of sea days but the line was always 45 minutes long. (They have signs telling you the wait time).

 

Muster drill for us was in the Meridian dining room. Easiest sit down muster drill I've ever had. Much better than standing in the hot sun.

 

We unpacked a little then realized we were moving. This was the smoothest sailing we've ever had. It was choppy going across the open ocean during the night but most of the time never felt it move. I do get sea sick so I take Meclazine two days prior.....every morning of the cruise.....and two days afterwards. Once I stop swaying, I get land sick. Taking it this way prevents all of it. I did have to take it one more day this time - running into everything and staggering all over the house!

 

We did have a medical emergency on board the first night.....we actually turned around and went back to Ft Lauderdale. They announced it at 10:30 pm. We didn't even feel the ship turn around. We high tailed it back, dropped off the patient and still made it to Grand Turk right on time the next morning. Kuddos to the captain & crew. I heard later that we'd had more that one emergency onboard that week but we didn't know anything about it.

 

 

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The Pig & Anchor has a beer tasting. It is $6.50 and you sampled 5 kinds. The labels tell you what they are - the one on the far right is an English Ale. The smoked one was his favorite. It was different than anything he had - thought it would go well with a pulled pork sandwhich. Not one he'd drink several of though. He didn't care for the citrus one at all. There was a distillery at the Pig & Anchor also. Live entertainment at night.

 

Our daughter and my husband teamed up for the beer pong tournament one evening. I wasn't sure if I should be proud she was winning at one point or slightly worried. lol (She'll be 22 this weekend by the way)

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Edited by CheckersMidwest

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How do I rotate a picture?! The distillery above as well as the menu are horizontal......I'll see if I can fix that.

 

More tomorrow ~~

 

Any questions? Happy to answer.

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On the first Sea Day we spent a lot of time at the Havana pool area. We also wandered the ship and attended the Steakhouse demonstration.

 

ELEVATORS: Please Please watch the youtube videos showing you how to use the elevators. If used correctly, they work great. However, even on the last sea day I was still explaining to people. The system is a touch screen. You touch the floor FOR EACH PERSON IN YOUR GROUP . So 3 of us.....that's 3 clicks for Lido or whatever. That tells the elevator how many people will be riding it. When it's full, it'll bypass other floors and drop you off.  The kiosk screen tells you which elevator to go to....A..B...Q....etc. People just got on whatever door opened first. Would run in before the door closed and say 'going up?!". Several times the door would open for us and it would be full. People didn't follow instructions. Very irritating.  It's not hard.

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The Ocean Plaza was great and really utilized on this ship. Lots of trivia but also live music every night.

 

I missed a few of our sail away pix.....

 

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Edited by CheckersMidwest

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Steakhouse Demonstration - the chefs prepare a few things, show you what they're doing, and you get to sample it.

 

We also ate at the Steak house one evening. They asked if we were celebrating anything. At the end of our meal, they brought out a special dessert for our daughter and 3 glasses of champaigne. Very nice and unexpected. I am saddened to say the Steak House was my least favorite meal the whole week.

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More ship photos......  chess board, skyride, sportsquare, basketball court, self serve beer station (swipe your card & charged by the ounce), Deli, Pixels, Guys Burgers, Cherry On Top candy store,  Show lounge, coffee shop.

 

I did like the new pixels. I am so glad I could buy 5x7 instead of 8x10. However, you had to get 2 5x7 for $17. ($19 if the 'sale' was over). I don't need 2. I would have bought so many more if I could have had 1 5x7 for like $12 or something. You can log on to the ipads all around the Pixels store, see them on your tv, or on the Hub App.

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First port of call: GRAND TURK

 

We've been here before. My daughter & I booked the Segway tour through Carnival. My husband said his balance was too questionable and didn't want to risk it. We went early, 7:30 I think. You have to wear a helmet and I thought early morning would be cooler. This was SO much fun ! They take you one at a time for a quick lesson. You turn....go straight....up an incline....in the sand....on pavement.....down the ramp....and stop. At first it's really tricky but you get the hang of it quick. The longer you ride, the easier it gets. We rode in a single file line....down a one way street first. Crossed a street and rode in the sand awhile. We stopped twice for our legs/feet to rest. My toes & ball of my foot tingled. We drove past salt ponds and stopped again at an old church. Finally we drove on a regular street with traffic and back to the dive shop where we started. I'd do it again.

 

We went back to the ship, changed into swimwear and met my husband. We went back ashore to the beach for awhile and then did some quick shopping at the port.

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Not a lot of fish to see at the beach by the ships.  The water in Grand Turk is not my favorite. It still had chunks of seaweed and stirred up debri just kind of suspended.  I've seen much better in the Bahamas, Honduras, & Belize. Still an ocean though & we're beach people so we enjoyed it.

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La Ramona, Dominican Republic :

 

We booked the Carnival Saona Special through SEAVIS TOURS. I highly recommend it ! It is $75 per person, includes the tour, a bbq buffet style lunch, & drinks. You pay a $15 deposit via Paypal and then the balance in cash when you check in at their desk. They had rum, coke, sprite, and some other alcohol. (Sorry, I drank the pop....husband drank the rum). You take a taxi to their boat/office. It's $15 per person round trip. (You pay the taxi when they drop you off back at port - ensures they come back to get you on time) Everything is explained very well in an email from Seavis and went exactly as we'd expected. The tour consists of a speed boat ride to Saona Island. There were beach chairs for everyone. We had time on the beach, lunch, time to snorkel a little and then the speedboat took us to see a few mangroves and across a shallow sandbar with starfish. Some of them were huge ! We got out on the sandbar and had awhile to walk around, swim, look for starfish, etc. They gave us their version of rum cake and drinks again. Then speedboat back. Very organized. Our taxi's were there waiting and wisked us back to port. We had about 1.5 hours or so until we had to be back onboard. The water was the prettiest green/turquoise and so clear !

 

There is a photographer - he takes random pictures of the day as well as of you & your family if you ask. You can buy ALL of the pictures he took for $30 payable at the office when you return on the boat. He emails them to you. Mine were in my email when we got home and I downloaded them without any trouble.

 

We had our picture taken in the shopping area of port with a monkey & parrots. We shopped and returned to the ship.

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CURACAO:

We were in port 1:30-10:00 pm. I hired a private guide through Viator. "Gaby" was great. (Her company is something & Stillettoes" ) We'd emailed back/forth a few times. I told her things we were interested in and she came up with an itinerary that would fit in our 4 hours. Sign up with Viator and get a discount on your first booking. I think it was $120 each. Taxi fare here is ridiculous. We would have spent a fortune traveling everywhere we wanted to go and it was all far apart. This was perfect. She sent an email in advance with a picture of the walkway from the ship through the port area toward Rif Fort. Even sent a picture of the bench we were to meet her at and a picture of her. She was standing there when we arrived. She visited while she drove, pointing out things and answering questions. We visited the Curacao Distillery and did a self guided tour & tasting. She drove us around and showed us historical buildings, etc. We also went to the Ostrich farm. Kind of a cheesy place but very informative and something we've never done. We enjoyed the tour. There is a place the flamingos live in their natural habitat that I wanted to see. She pulled over & let us get out to see better & take photos. The Curacao sign was on our list as well as a little shopping. She recommended the Governour for dinner, which was within walking distance to the ship. Our tour was from 2:00-6:00 and I made reservations a couple months in advance for 6:30. They had a table when we arrived early and the food was good. I was a little concerned over the menu (I am a picky eater) but glad we chose them. I had a sole fish with a mango chutney that was to die for. Our daughter had a fettucine dish and I can't remember what my husband ate. We started out in the courtyard (where our reservation was for) but when someone on the balcony didn't show up they offered to move us so we'd have a water view. The hostess & waiters were great.

 

You might need bug spray when it starts getting dark. Some kind of little black triangular fly kept bothering me.

 

 

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More Curacao......these were the Ostrich Farm. (I think it was $15 each entry fee....) You ride on a 'safari' type bus around the farm with a guide. The bus stops at various areas and he points out or explains things. We all got out in one place to feed them. A photographer took pictures of everyone feeding and they are for sale when you leave. At the end of the tour, you can hold an egg and stand on one. They can withstand 440 pounds.

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Curacao Distillery. They offer a guided tour for $12.50 but it's not necessary. There are signs and displays throughout, you can do a self guided tour for free.

 

After the distillery, we drove around historical buildings and then to a popular shopping district.

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Rif Fort near the pier. There is a line of 'straw market' type shops on the sidewalk on the other side. Wonderful store in the fort with beautiful blue/white dutch pottery and gifts. Loved it. I got a wallet , vase, and misc there. At the distillery, they sell all the flavors and have a couple of gift boxes for $10 & $15 of mini bottles of all the flavors/colors.

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Pictures of the market shopping, a town square area just outside the fort, The Govenour restaurant, and the floating bridge. The bridge swings open for boats to go through while people are on it. Sometimes just a little, but once it opened all the way parallel with the sidewalk! There is a bell that rings and a sign that explains the time frame.  On the other side is the Heart statue with all the padlocks. (lock your love....)

 

We'd wanted to see the floating farmer's market but due to circumstances with Venezuela, the merchants aren't able to bring fruits/vegetables right now. We drove by but it was empty.

 

We really enjoyed Curacao ! So many more things to do....snorkel with sea turtles, blow holes, etc.

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Did you notice almost every picture of my husband, he is carrying our shopping bag ?! lol. I take a Vera Bradley type bag ashore to put stuff all in one place. Harder to set something down & lose it. It gets heavy - especially with all the alcohol we bought for gifts at the distillery. Bless his heart for lugging it around !

 

On the way back to the ship, there was a local playing music for tips. My husband sat down by him & he gave him an instrument to play along. Fun !

 

Some sailings visit Curacao for a large portion of the daytime. I am so glad we were here at night ! Seeing the ship all lit up from shore was great. Such a nice atmosphere.

 

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ARUBA:  LOVED Aruba. The rainy season is Oct-Dec and might rain 3 days. Average temps in the 80's, wind from the ocean, and abundant sunshine. Perfect. We wanted a beach but also wanted to see a little of the countryside. We took the KuKoo Kanuku but tour through Carnival. It was fun ! We saw A lot of the island.....California light house........Old church.......lots of cactus and winding roads. There is a food truck selling coconut smoothies and alcohol at the light house. They are awesome!  The week we visited was a yearly music festival so parts of the main beaches were blocked off to the public. They had to take us to Sunshine beach instead. Which was very disappointing. Beautiful water, restaurant/bar, lots of chairs but also lots of seaweed. They had a few paths cut so you could get out past it, but it was like single file for everyone to do that. Sunshine also had an inflatable water park which took away from the beauty of Aruba. Oh, and its right next to the airport so saw lots of jets coming over us to land. If we had gone to another beach, it would have been perfect.

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I'm really enjoying your review and photos! I've never been to Curacao so I'm just a wee bit jealous. 🙂

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