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jam19872016

Carnival Horizon 8 day Southern Caribbean Cruise Review

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After spending 38 days at sea in 2018 I decided that I may need to have just a little more self control in 2019. I love my cruises, but every dollar I saved went into the cruise fund instead of more important things like you know, savings. Fast forward another year and after spending 41 days at sea in 2019 I decided not to kid myself into saying I would do better in 2020.

 

Now that I have forewarned you that I am not a responsible individual I will go ahead of tell you I currently have 6 cruises booked from January-May of 2020 totaling 35 days at sea. My bank account weeps for me.

 

These will not be as through as the reviews I used to write but I do want to chronicle them for my own selfish reasons. My 2019 cruises are a bit of a blur as I only wrote a review to one of them and I love going back and rereading them and going "oh yea I remember that". If at least one person still finds these reviews useful, then it was worthwhile for me to share instead of just writing a journal or something for myself.

 

This is part 1 of 6 of my 2020 cruise marathon which will include the following cruises:

 

January 11- 8 Day Southern Caribbean on Carnival Horizon
January 31- 3 Day Bahamas on Carnival Liberty
February 21- 10 Day New Orleans & Mexico on Celebrity Reflection
March 27: 3 Day Perfect Day at Coco Cay Mariner of the Seas
April 23: 4 Day Mexico Independence of the Seas
May 16: 7 Day Eastern Caribbean Carnival Breeze

 

I have a very diversified schedule as I have started branching out from Carnival a bit. Three cruise lines, and only three repeat ports. Grand Turk, Nassau, and Cozumel will all appear twice. I don't really care too much about the ports though but am excited to mix it up a bit from just Carnival, although they do remain my favorite cruise line.
 

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About Me:

 

I am 32 years old and am lucky enough to live in Florida so taking cruises is more affordable and easier to do than for many people. This was my 28th cruise, my 21st cruise on Carnival and my first time on the Horizon.

 

A couple disclaimers, I LOVE cruising and always have a good time. But I like to be honest in my review. Everything is not perfect on a cruise and I do intend to include the bad with the good. Just because I complain, does not mean I did not have a great time.

 

Also, I may not hit on everything that interests you as a cruiser. I would say from reading many reviews that my cruise style is different from the norm, and that is okay. Please feel free to ask questions about something I do not cover and I will do my best to answer anything that you would like to know about.

 

After traveling on the Vista, I really had no interest in sailing on the Horizon. The ship was crowded, poorly laid out, and had no personality. The crew were obviously miserable. Outside of the fun squad all week I saw one friendly person. That is not an exaggeration - one. Everyone else ranged from indifferent, to visibly bothered by my mere presence. It was a very different experience than anything I'd witnessed on any other Carnival ship. 

 

Fast forward a couple months when I saw Horizon at her first Caribbean port of call - Grand Turk, while on my cruise on the Magic and I found myself excited again and made the Horizon a priority.

 

While on the Conquest my casino donations earned me a 35% off voucher for another cruise. Although I still wanted to do the Horizon, I am not a fan of the drive to Miami so gave my mom the choice between Horizon and Breeze. I really expected her to pick Breeze as it was cheaper and much closer. To my surprise she picked Horizon for one reason. 

 

Cherry soup.

 

Yep, cherry soup. She had it on our last cruise on the Sunshine. I told her it was only on 8+ day cruises and she remembered that, and for that reason alone she went with this cruise. Oh boy I hope that soup is as good as she remembered lol.

 

We made our way down a day early so we would not have to make the 5-6 hour drive the day of the cruise. We arrived too early to check-in so stopped by at a nearby restaurant for some lunch.

 

My mom had heard good things about a place called Pei Wei so we stopped in there. 

 

My lunch.

 

 

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It was good, but that is a $10 plate your looking at and it wasn't THAT good. My mom did not care for what she ordered. Overall I would say give this restaurant a pass if you happen to find yourself near a Pei Wei (and I've never heard of it before so you may not find yourself near one lol)

 

We drove around a little then checked in at my usual spot in Stuart, Fl. This is about as close to Miami as I can get before prices start getting out of hand. We spent the rest of the day lounging about the hotel.

 

Next up - cruise day.
 

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Day 1:

 

Boarding the Horizon

 

We left the hotel around 8 and even with construction we arrived in Miami not too much after 10. We parked at the port which at $22 a day is very expensive but honestly I feel like it is worth it as I have not had much luck with parking in Miami. 

 

Check-in was smooth. I was not given a hard time about my fan I bring on board and my passport scanned with no issues. Last time we boarded the check-in lady was quite rude. She was having a conversation with someone on her watch and my travel companion called her on it after she took another call once we were waiting on her. Then my passport would not scan so I had to go to another check-in counter. I figured she was lying to give me a hard time as it has always scanned before. This confirms it.

 

We had a short wait and then boarding began at 10:44.

 

On board the Carnival Horizon.

 

 

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It was much brighter in person.

 

Another smaller Dreamscape in the casino.

 

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I have priority so I was able to head right to my room which is a great perk. I dropped off my luggage then we headed up to Guy's BBQ for some lunch.

 

 

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This was very good, much better than the BBQ served on the Conquest class ships. It was also open on some port days not just sea days like other ships I've been on.

 

Passing by the coffee bar I see they are stocked up on Pepsi products.

 

 

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I know I am in the minority, but I prefer Pepsi over coke. I agree it tastes different than Coke, and in my opinion, better. 

 

I do not have a background in the bar and hospitality industry, but I have worked retail my entire adult life. Although Coke seems to be what more people prefer, Pepsi far outsells Coke at every place I have ever worked (in the south where Coke is probably even more prominent). Then their is Mountain Dew which also outsells Coke. Then their is their overall portfolio of beverages which is far more diverse and better selling. 

 

Those who think Carnival made a long term bad business decision, I can assure you they did not. More people may prefer Coke products, but more people PURCHASE Pepsi products. Either way, I am used to most establishments serving Coke and I can always drink whatever is available just fine. I was a little sad to see Vitamin Water gone but immediately got over it when I saw how much cheaper Gatorade was to buy. 

 

Okay, off my soapbox now.
 

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I next made my way up to Lido for some hand scooped gelato which I buried in toppings. I ended up with a slice of cake and an empenada also.

 

 

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The empenada counter at the buffet was a nice addition. It was good but a bit too salty. I will try it again with some of the sauces available to tame the salt a bit.

 

The cake was fantastic and I had intended to skip it in favor of the gelato since the cake is on all the ships but when I saw it I could not resist.

 

The gelato was also good. The flavors today were mango and coffee. The flavors are always a bit odd but if you don't like the options, the topping bar is still great with the soft serve.
 

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I love the stairway art and was glad it was carried over from the Vista. Very neat and looks even better in person.

 

 

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Next we headed to gym where I was tricked into exercising off some of my lunch.

 

My mini workout results.

 

 

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After that grueling 15 minute workout, we made our way down to the room. I love that the newer ships have on-demand movies available for purchase in the rooms. I love to chill out in the room and the TV selection is not very good. I was pleased to find a very large selection of free to watch movies available. Very nice touch. We settled in for the afternoon with The Smurfs.
 

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Next up was muster in my favorite of all inside locations: the casino.

 

 

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I've read about the Panorama making the casino smoke free on boarding day since you board in the casino. I am going to make a guess now that sometime in the near future that will extend to all ships which muster in the casino. I witnessed a number of people complain that they had to muster in the smokey smell and were allowed to stand outside the casino. I couldn't smell anything (as a non smoker) but maybe others are more sensitive to it.

 

The best part of cruising out of Miami is definitely the sail away. I usually go to a top deck for a good view and good photo ops. But I had my mom in tow and an elevator to the top was a tall order right after muster and there was no way she could climb to the top (even I struggle with that) so we settled for a spot on the Lanai. I am only going to include two of the photos because they didn't come out very well at all since I had to take them through the rained on glass panels.

 

Carnival Conquest and Empress of the Seas.

 

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After sail away we went to the spa for the spa raffle. We did not end up being drawn for some free spa money and it ran a little long so we missed the Imax tour so we just ended up going down for some dinner.

 

The Hub app was not working for me so I went to the check in desk for YTD. The line was slower than I would like but not the end of the world. The group in front of me could not seem to wrap their head around why they needed to come to this line when the dining room was on another deck and would not stop complaining about it to the hostess and when I did get down to the dining room none of the people in line had checked in. And Carnival thought we could handle these smart elevators? You think too kindly of our ability to follow directions lol.

 

I'll admit I'm a little bored with Carnival's dinner menu at this point and had hoped to do some specialty restaurants this cruise but my mom is not able to eat a lot at one sitting without her sugar levels spiking so she could not really get her money's worth out of it. They did have a specialty dining package you could purchase for $60 which included the steakhouse and two of the following: Ji Ji's, Cucina, or a $15 voucher at Bonsai Sushi or Guy's BBQ. Normal price would be $68. They also had a lesser advertised package for three $15 vouchers for $38 that could be redeemed at Cucina, Ji Ji, Guy's, Bonsai, or Seafood Shack.

 

I did not get pictures of the menu for the first two nights. I thought I could get screen shots from the Hub App but I am not very tech savvy when it comes to cell phones and can't seem to figure it out. So I am recycling some menu pics from another cruise. The menus are the same the only difference is now the dessert menu is on the same page as the appetizers on the newer menus.

 

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For my starter I tried something new and ordered the croquette and empenada.

 

 

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This was very good and something I would order again when its on the menu.

 

For my main I ordered the pork loin and the vegetable lasagna.

 

 

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The pork was not good tonight. It was very fatty. The lasagna remains one of the best dishes in the MDR.

 

For dessert I kept it simple with some chocolate ice cream.

 

 

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Overall dinner was very good and service was perfect.
 

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While walking along the Ocean Plaza I found a duck!

 

 

20200111_220300-L.jpg

 

I took that back to my mom. She gets a kick out of collecting the ducks on the cruise ships.

 

The rest of the night was spent taking it easy. I spent a little bit of time i n the casino and I got this 4 of a kind.

 

 

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A nice $250 in my pocket. I did not play much since my casino budget has been depleted booking all these cruises! I ended the night up since I did not play a lot for them to get their money back.

 

I tried to go to the comedy showcase in the main lounge but the line to get in was long and I was pretty sleepy anyway. Too bad as I knew I would probably not get in to a show at the limelight lounge. I do wish Carnival would take reservations.

 

That's it for night one on Carnival Horizon. Tomorrow will be a "fun?" day at sea.
 

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13 minutes ago, kelkel2 said:

Following along and I can’t wait to read more! 

 

Thanks for following 🙂 More soon.

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I like the rained on glass pictures it's unique.

 

30 minutes ago, jam19872016 said:

The best part of cruising out of Miami is definitely the sail away. I usually go to a top deck for a good view and good photo ops. But I had my mom in tow and an elevator to the top was a tall order right after muster and there was no way she could climb to the top (even I struggle with that) so we settled for a spot on the Lanai. I am only going to include two of the photos because they didn't come out very well at all since I had to take them through the rained on glass panels.

 

Carnival Conquest and Empress of the Seas.

 

IMG013-L.jpg

 

IMG014-L.jpg

 

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1 hour ago, Sagittarius traveler said:

I like the rained on glass pictures it's unique.

 

 

Thank you. It was a frustrating experience and I don't think my mom got to enjoy Miami's gorgeous sail away from our vantage point. Front of the ship would have been better, but alas we had just walked to the back of the ship to get her a glass of water from the plaza bar. I'm not so worried about me, I've seen it and will probably see it again many times but I don't think my mom will make the long trip to Miami again.

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Don't worry the back of the ship where I was for the sail away as well because it was crowded on the main deck so my family and I went to the back with the pizza and found chairs hahaha. 

 

43 minutes ago, jam19872016 said:

Thank you. It was a frustrating experience and I don't think my mom got to enjoy Miami's gorgeous sail away from our vantage point. Front of the ship would have been better, but alas we had just walked to the back of the ship to get her a glass of water from the plaza bar. I'm not so worried about me, I've seen it and will probably see it again many times but I don't think my mom will make the long trip to Miami again.

 

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Thanks for the review!  I am sad to hear that you did not like the Vista. I have a cruise on her in a few weeks. I hope things have improved.

 

Anyway, can't wait to read more of your adventures.

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Great review! Keep it coming! We will be sailing on the Horizon in October and love reading the reviews of her.

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Hi, Also following this review with great interest since we are thinking about trying Carnival for the first time and go on Horizon with this itinerary in February 2021. 

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Thanks for doing this review.  We are doing the eight night in March! 

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I was on this cruise with my mother and sister! Looking forward to the rest of your review! 😃

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On 1/26/2020 at 4:18 PM, jam19872016 said:

While walking along the Ocean Plaza I found a duck!

 

 

20200111_220300-L.jpg

 

I took that back to my mom. She gets a kick out of collecting the ducks on the cruise ships.

 

The rest of the night was spent taking it easy. I spent a little bit of time i n the casino and I got this 4 of a kind.

 

 

20200111_214017-L.jpg

 

A nice $250 in my pocket. I did not play much since my casino budget has been depleted booking all these cruises! I ended the night up since I did not play a lot for them to get their money back.

 

I tried to go to the comedy showcase in the main lounge but the line to get in was long and I was pretty sleepy anyway. Too bad as I knew I would probably not get in to a show at the limelight lounge. I do wish Carnival would take reservations.

 

That's it for night one on Carnival Horizon. Tomorrow will be a "fun?" day at s

Are the ducks hidden for passengers to find and keep?

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23 hours ago, Sagittarius traveler said:

Don't worry the back of the ship where I was for the sail away as well because it was crowded on the main deck so my family and I went to the back with the pizza and found chairs hahaha. 

 

 

 

Maybe we'll have another chance someday! I'll make sure I am better prepared to give her a better sailaway.

 

22 hours ago, TravelE said:

Thanks for the review!  I am sad to hear that you did not like the Vista. I have a cruise on her in a few weeks. I hope things have improved.

 

Anyway, can't wait to read more of your adventures.

 

I wouldn't worry too much, the crew issues are likely resolved as it has been two years and so there has been time for a crew turnover. The crowding issues could be a week to week issue. And other than that, well Vista class has some quirks that take some getting used to but I am sure you will still have a good time if you intend to have a good time 🙂 Enjoy your cruise.

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6 hours ago, jordanaire said:

Great review! Keep it coming! We will be sailing on the Horizon in October and love reading the reviews of her.

 

Thanks for reading along.

 

6 hours ago, MonikaNJ said:

Hi, Also following this review with great interest since we are thinking about trying Carnival for the first time and go on Horizon with this itinerary in February 2021. 

 

I think this would be a great choice! It is a wonderful itinerary and has a large variety of things to do and places to eat. 

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3 hours ago, lazydayz said:

Thanks for doing this review.  We are doing the eight night in March! 

 

This is a great itinerary! Enjoy 🙂 

 

1 hour ago, ashley1474 said:

I was on this cruise with my mother and sister! Looking forward to the rest of your review! 😃

 

Thanks for reading along! That was quite a rocky cruise wasn't it? It took me about three days to stop randomly feeling like I was still rocking.

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