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Horizon Review - 6 Day (with pictures) - 01/19 to 01/25 by mlshum

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There is a hoodie that I’ve seen on Facebook that says, “Once upon a time there was a girl who loved cruises and dogs.  It was me.  The end.”


Although I have no problem with dogs, I can’t honestly say I LOVE them, so that shirt probably isn’t for me however, I do LOVE cruises!  Where else can you visit different places and do interesting things, without ever getting in your car, in the middle of winter, no less!?!  I know I’ve never had the opportunity to climb a waterfall or go scuba diving in January here in West Virginia!  Cruises are my “once a year vacation of choice” for precisely those reasons and here is my story for our 2020 cruise.


Hi, everyone and welcome to this review of the beautiful Carnival Horizon!  I can’t tell you how excited we have been to sail on this new ship!  Up until now, all of the ships that we have sailed on have been more than ten years old.  I know there is currently a newer ship than the Horizon, but she still feels “new” to us.


My name is Michelle and I always sail with my husband of 34 years, Ron.  We went on our first cruise in 2010 and have been hooked from day one!  All of our cruises have been with Carnival except for one cruise on Royal Caribbean.  While we had a wonderful time on that cruise, we found that we missed Carnival, so we came back “home”.   We are only able to cruise about once a year, so we really try to make the most of every second of the cruise.


We are both real estate appraisers and own our own business so when we are away from work, our office is completely shut down.  This is why we only get to cruise once a year.  In the past we had sailed  in the fall but a couple of years ago we went on a cruise in February and found that we really enjoyed the break from winter here in West Virginia.  Also, the weather was absolutely gorgeous in the Caribbean in January and February.   We enjoyed that break so much that we have cruised in the winter ever since. (We started out with a booking in February 2020….more on that later!)   I think this will continue to be a trend for us.


A little about our cruising “personality”.  We are very easy going and it is very difficult to upset us. Everything that happens, even the unexpected and sometimes unwelcome things, just become part of the experience.  As Ron would say, “It’s a story to tell!”  How bad can it be when I’m on vacation on a beautiful ship and visiting beautiful islands where it’s nice and warm?? 


Anyway, August 2019 arrived, and it was time to start looking for our next cruise.  As always, I read Cruise Critic pretty much year-round.  When Ron suggested we book the new ship, I was so excited!  Better still, we found what seemed to be a great deal on the Horizon departing Miami on February 2nd.  We booked the cruise and booked our flight immediately.  After that, we started looking for a hotel room for the night before the cruise.  That’s when we learned why this particular cruise was such a great deal.


Now let me preface this by saying that neither of us are football fans.  I am generally aware that the season occurs in the fall and the Super Bowl occurs roughly in late January, so it absolutely did not dawn on me that the Super Bowl might impact our lives in any way.  When I started looking for a hotel room, I was floored at the prices!  Not only were the “normal” hotels that we have used in the past were all booked solid, but even hotels that we wouldn’t have considered in the past were hundreds of dollars and more!  What in the world?!?  A Google search revealed the reason.  The Super Bowl was being played IN MIAMI…..on February 2nd!   Oops!  The hotel rooms cost way more than the cruise itself.  I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it would be to get an Uber or to move around town that weekend at all.  What had I done?!??!

    The next morning, after thinking it over, we decided it would be better to cancel everything and rebook on a different date.  It was less than 24 hours since we had originally booked, so Carnival didn’t charge anything to change the sail date to January 19th.  The airline charged a fee to make the change, but it was still cheaper than the hotels in Miami.  We booked a flight and a “normal” hotel, and we were all set.  The cruise countdown could now officially begin!


Fast forward to the week before the cruise.  That’s always a tough work week for me.  I can’t seem to focus on anything other than vacation!  I guess it’s “cruiseitis”.  Anyway, I plowed through the week…one report at a time….getting ever closer, while it seemed like time was dragging.  Finally, it was Friday evening and we could close the office for the next week!  Although we had been laying out things we wanted to take for a couple of weeks, it was time to start packing in earnest.  Vacation was upon us!  After packing I did my nails.  Now I’m a big baby and I don’t like to have a real manicure, but I have discovered Color Street nail strips and I like them a lot.  They had a pedicure set that had little anchors, stripes and polka dots.  Why yes, I will, thank you!  I was now officially ready to GO.



We always fly to the port city the day before the cruise.  We have a dread of trying to fly in the day of the cruise and being delayed, so we always go early.  We’ve never regretted that decision.  We had found a good price on a flight out of a small airport in Concord, NC on Allegiant.  I had never flown on Allegiant before but their price was right and the airport was about the same distance from home as the airport we normally used (Charlotte Douglas) so….why not?  Saturday morning, we headed south.


Our flight didn’t leave until 4:30 in the afternoon so we had plenty of time however, once the day arrived and it was time to leave, I WAS READY TO LEAVE.  We got up, got ready and took off.  I’d rather find something to do to pass the time there than waiting here!  We headed to IKEA, which is always interesting, to pass some time before it was reasonable to go to the airport. 


The Concord airport is very neat and is also very small.  It worked out beautifully.  We found parking with no problem, checked in quickly and headed for the security line.  Now if something strange is going to happen at the airport, it will probably happen to me.  My carry on was flagged as having something inside that was questionable.  The agent showed us the scan.  The thing they were concerned about happened to be my curling iron.  They opened my bag, rummaged around to confirm that it was indeed a curling iron and sent me on my way.  In their defense, they were super nice and apologetic.  I know they were simply doing their job and I appreciate what they do so I wasn’t upset at all.  After all, we’re on vacation now.  That vacation started the minute I walked out my front door!


We settled in at the airport for a 45 minute wait.  This airport has only two gates but, like I said, it was very clean and neat and there was plenty of seating.  There are much worse places we could and have waited.





We flew into Fort Lauderdale without incident.  Once we landed and grabbed our luggage, we called an Uber.  In a matter of just a few minutes, our Uber pulled up and we were on our way to Miami.  The ride was uneventful and pleasant.









We had booked the Ramada in Miami Springs.  Ron and I had stayed there a few years ago and it was an average, clean hotel, well maintained and close to the airport.  We didn’t hesitate to book it again because of a good experience in the past.  It was still clean but had deteriorated over the years.  It showed a lot of wear and tear.  The décor is cute with an English phone booth, red bicycle, courtyard pool, etc, but it was looking pretty run down.  If you are staying on the second floor there is no elevator, so you have to carry your bags up the stairs.  That isn’t physically a problem for us but at that point we made a decision that we wouldn’t be staying there again.  The main reason we had stayed in the past was the shuttle to the cruise port.  Like I said, we’ll be booking somewhere else the next time we sail from Miami.  (I completely forgot to take pictures of the hotel!)



Sunday, January 19th – Embarkation Day

Finally, it was CRUISE DAY!  Woo hoo!!!  We went down for a quick breakfast at the hotel.  I must say that their breakfast was pretty good for a continental breakfast.  We took our plates out to the pool patio.  It was SO nice to enjoy some warm weather since we knew it was winter at home.


Promptly at 10am, our shuttle arrived.  We loaded up and headed to the port.  Our check in time wasn’t until noon but we really didn’t have much choice but to go early since we didn’t have a car with us and check out time at the hotel was 11am.  We arrived at the port and got in the “early/late” line, thinking it would be better to wait at the port than to try to find somewhere else to wait.  We were amazed at how quickly the process went once we arrived at the port.  We literally walked in, walked through security, showed our boarding passes and passports and headed upstairs to find a seat.  We both had Kindles out and were ready to read for a couple of hours.  I took a minute for a restroom break and to grab a bottle of water.  By the time I returned, they were already calling our zone number.  We walked straight onto the ship and were on board by 11:15.  Wow!!














As soon as you step on board you see the “funnel” thing that I think is called a Dreamscape.  It was so neat!  I loved it!  It changed pictures frequently and I took a picture pretty much every time I went through the lobby and it was different.  There is a second smaller Dreamscape at the casino bar.  You’ll see several pictures throughout this review of those.  We explored the ship a little.  We really loved the newer, modern design and the color scheme.  It was much better than the Fantasy class ships, which I find a little “jarring” sometimes.






And here's another view of the lobby...…






Although it was a little early for lunch, we decided to go ahead and grab a bite to eat at Guy’s Burgers since the ship wasn’t very crowded, but we expected it to get crowded very soon.  We were somewhat mistaken about that.  I have read reviews where people mentioned that the ship seemed very crowded.  That wasn’t our experience at all.  We rarely waited for anything and didn’t feel crowded at any time.  We went up one floor to some covered seating with a small cube table and had our lunch.  After that, we set out to explore the ship.






There are several main public areas on this ship where food and activities seem to be most concentrated.  The first is the Lido, of course.  The buffet was a little different on Horizon and was broken up into several stations that had the same offerings but seemed to help with crowd control.  The pizza and seafood places were pretty much the same.  The Lido pool area was also pretty similar to ships we’ve sailed on in the past.  We went up to the Sky Ride and Ropes course areas.  They were pretty popular throughout the whole cruise although the longest we ever waited for the Sky Ride was about 45 minutes and the longest we ever waited for the ropes course was about 15 minutes.  More about those later on in the review.  Part of the mini golf course is on this same deck area around the ropes course.  Those two holes are a little awkward because there are so many people standing around.  Also, the big chess game is right beside one of the mini golf holes and you pretty much have to walk across the edge of the chess board to go to the next mini golf hole.  It was a little awkward.  The rest of the course was fine.  We checked out the other sports deck areas but didn’t play any other games during the cruise.



Here's Waterworks...













The IMAX theatre.....






Ocean Plaza, where trivia games are played and Horizon Wireless plays in the evening.....






...and the piano bar.





Our room was ready at 1:15.  When we got to our room, all of our bags except one had already been delivered.  Our room was nice.  It was very similar to other rooms we’d had on other ships.  I really liked the more subdued color scheme.  We usually do an interior room simply because we are rarely in our room and you can really sleep well in an interior.  We have had balcony rooms in the past and will probably do that again at some time, but not this time.   I liked that our names appeared on the television!  No idea why…I’m just easy to amuse like that.  LOL  There was a news channel, several cruise channels, HGTV and a couple other channels that I can’t remember.  We rarely watch TV anyway, so it didn’t register too much with me about the channel offerings.   We began unpacking.  Before we finished unpacking the other suitcases, our garment bag arrived.  That was really fast!  We had visited our room, unpacked all our bags and had our sign and sail cards all in about 30 minutes.  Wow!






After walking around on the upper decks and going to our room, we headed down to request our typical table for two.  I also hid the first of my six cruising ducks.  I hid this first guy on the edge of the piano beside where I was waiting in line. The line was right beside the coffee bar on deck five.  I thought after we finished with the table change, I would sit down and see if someone took the duck however, as soon as I turned around, it was already gone!  That didn’t take long!  We looked around decks three, four and five.  These decks contained a couple of the specialty restaurants, a couple of bars, the Ocean Plaza, the lobby seating area and bar, shops, entrances to dining rooms and Liquid Lounge and other public areas.  One of the things we really liked about Deck 5 in particular was the Lanai area around the exterior perimeter of the ship.  There was a ton of seating, some covered and some uncovered, and we never found it crowded a single time.  Deck five also has the outdoor seating area for the steakhouse and Guy’s Pig and Anchor, which is free for lunch.



The Lanai on Deck 5.....






Duck #1






Let me pause here to say that if you aren’t using the HUB app, you MUST try it.  I love it!  This was our second or third cruise using the app, but it had more applications this time that we had found previously.  I like that you can see the menus, the Fun Times, your pictures, etc.  The best part is that it is totally free even if you haven’t purchased an internet package.   In my opinion, that app is one of the best things Carnival has done lately.


It was time for sail away!  Since we were already on Deck 5, we simply headed to the very front of the ship to watch from that vantage point.  We usually go up to Lido and watch there but since we had the opportunity, we thought we’d go forward.  We weren’t disappointed!  There were only a couple of people at this location and the view was fantastic.


We were the first ship to leave port and the harbor police boat was forward and to our left.  ( I can never remember if that is port or starboard!)  As we started out of the port area, there was a small boat who sailed in front of us AND STOPPED!  The police boat sped up and circled around them.  You could hear the officer screaming at him to get out of the way.  He moved, thankfully.  I can’t imagine how he thought stopping in front of such a large ship was a good idea.  It isn’t like Horizon was going to be able to stop quickly or easily!  The thing that happened next was even more surprising.  When we were almost out of the port, the police boat had fallen back on the left.  From the right, there were about six jet skis who raced up and were riding back and forth in front of the ship.  This wasn’t an accident like the first smaller boat.  They were doing this intentionally.  I was holding my breath hoping that they kept moving and no one turned over or their engines died.  I have heard of motorcycle “gangs” but this was the first jet ski gang I’d encountered.  I’m pretty sure that if the police boat were still there, the officer would have absolutely lost his mind.






So here's the first boat that stopped in front of us.  The harbor police boat is on the left and beginning to circle.






Here's the jet ski "gang"!  LOL







It was just a bit windy!






And Miami is behind us in the distance.  The Norwegian Encore heads off to her first port, too.




Finally, we were out of port and heading out to sea!  Norwegian Encore and Oasis of the Seas followed us out of port.  It was closing in on time for dinner, so we decided to head back to our cabin and grab a quick shower before we went to eat.


While we were in our cabin our room steward, Komang, stopped by.  He was super nice!  We met him multiple times through the cruise and always enjoyed chatting with him.  He was one of the best room stewards we have had so far.


Ron and I typically choose early seating.  We were in the Reflections dining room.  Our head waiter was Gene.  At the end of the cruise he gave us a card with all of the names of his team however, none of these people ever introduced themselves to us during the week so we really didn’t meet them at all.  Gene was pretty hit or miss through the week.  In his defense, he was taking care of two large tables of 8+ as well as us, so it’s understandable that we weren’t exactly a priority. 


Dinner service the first night was really slow.  We ordered the empanadas appetizer, roasted chicken as the entrée and I had chocolate melting cake (my favorite!) for dessert.  We made it out of the dining room just a few minutes before the second seating was to start.  The food was good, and we had no complaints about dinner.


After dinner we headed to the Liquid Lounge for the Welcome Aboard Show.  The Liquid Lounge has some features that he hadn’t seen before.  All of the chairs on the main floor are simply that…chairs.  They are not connected in any way and there are no tables like we’ve seen on some of the other ships.  There is a bar at the back of the lounge which also offers seating.  On the balcony level was theatre type seating with a few tables and stools scattered around the back.  There were several seats where it was really hard to see, especially in the balcony, because of the large mirrored columns.  My recommendation for seeing any of the shows is to BE EARLY so you can get some of the better seats on the main level.


Here's another view the Dreamscape...…






...and it suddenly sprouted flowers!







The Welcome Aboard Show was in the Liquid Lounge, which was pink and purple when the show started.







They changed to regular lighting during the show.





Mike was the cruise director.  He is so energetic!  He played one of the standard type games where a few guests were brought up on stage to do something funny.  After being chosen for one of those one time, we usually sit toward the back on the sides!  There were a couple of numbers by the Playlist singers and dancers with some info about what would be going on for the coming week.  More about those shows and activities later.  A couple had gotten married earlier that day.  Here's a picture of the bride dancing in her wedding gown in the Lobby with Mike and a crowd.  She looked beautiful!  I wish I could have worn my wedding gown all day all those years ago!!


The Dreamscape has confetti...





When the show was finished, we headed up to Lido for a Diet Pepsi and an ice cream cone.  While we were there, we noticed that they were playing the movie “Yesterday” on the big screen.  This was a movie we had talked about going to see but hadn’t followed through.  The basic plot was that everyone in the world had forgotten all of the Beatles songs except one struggling songwriter.  When he figured this out, he became famous passing off the Beatles songs as his own.  We had only missed a few minutes of the beginning, so we settled in to watch the rest.  It was a good movie and we were glad we stayed.  We finally turned in around 1am, which is REALLY late for us!!



This is where we watched the movie on the upper part of the Lido Deck.





And here's our towel animal for the night.








More to come!!!










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Monday, January 20th – Sea Day

After staying up so late the night before, I didn’t roll over until about 8:30!  Eek!    I was shocked!  This was REALLY late for me to wake up!  Ron, bless his heart, had been up for a while and was reading.  I told him he should have awakened me, but he was too nice and let me sleep. 


I jumped in the shower and we headed up to the Lido for breakfast.  Breakfast was pretty much like we’d found on all of the other Carnival ships and typical breakfast items were available….bacon, eggs, sausage, potatoes, breads, etc.  It was all good and after eating, we were ready to play.  First stop of the day was upstairs at the ropes course. 


The ropes course was an activity that I had looked forward to doing since I read about Horizon the first time.  I love this sort of thing.  We’re very active “50 somethings” and tend to do a lot of physical outdoor activities regularly such as biking, hiking, kayaking, etc.   The ropes course held instant appeal.  We got suited up and were on the course after about a fifteen minute wait.  Quick tip…if you want a shorter line at the Sky Ride or ropes course, get there earlier in the day.  The fact that I had slept so long set us back a little later than we had intended but since it was a Sea Day, who cares?!?  We had all day long. 


The course was pleasantly challenging.  There were lots of different obstacles, none of which were terribly difficult but still required concentration.  Basically, you were suited with a harness and attached to a cable with a roller at the top.  The roller was fitted into a track in a metal beam that was over the entire course.  Your roller moved along in the track as you moved around the course.  There were junctions where you could choose one of two or three obstacles and you simply moved the roller into the correct track.  It was very easy to navigate and a lot of fun.  You are allowed to go around the course twice before you have to go down and get in line again.  While that is the rule, it wasn’t strictly enforced.  There was an older guy on the course who kept going back and forth on every obstacle.  I don’t know how long he was up there, but he was by himself and never got in anyone’s way or held anyone else up, so I guess they were leaving him alone.  We finished our two laps and headed down to try out the Sky Ride.  (I'll post a video of the Sky Ride later on.)







One of the important things to remember about the ropes course and the Sky Ride is that you absolutely must be wearing closed toe shoes and you cannot have anything in your pockets or be carrying anything.  This was very strictly enforced.  Lockers are available to store phones and such while you are riding.  Ron asked them if he could take his Go Pro.  They agreed only if it was physically strapped to him.  He used a wrist strap, which worked fine, and he was allowed to take the Go Pro along. 


The Sky Ride was about a 45 minute wait.  There are four cars on the track.  The operators will wait until one set of cars is almost back to the start before releasing the new riders in the second set of cars.  It was very easy to use.  You were strapped into a seat and there was a movable arm on either side with a hand brake much like you’d find on a bicycle. You do need to slow yourself down when you are re-entering the platform if you’re moving fast.  You also have to step on a scale prior to the ride to be sure you are within the weight range.  The top of the range was 250, I believe but I don’t remember the bottom of the range.  The scale doesn’t tell your exact weight.  There is a red or green light that will come on when you step on the platform.  There were a surprising number of kids on this sailing and we saw several of them doing this ride with no problem at all.


We strapped in and off we went!  Both of the tracks start off evenly.  The outside track has a camera and snaps a picture as you go by.  Near the end of the back of the ship, the outside track dips down for a fun little downhill slope.  At that point, the inside track crosses over and becomes the outside track.  The inside track then has a slight uphill while the outside track dips.  After that, the two tracks are even again all the way back to the stop point.  We weren’t trying to hurry so the whole ride lasted about four minutes.  It was fun and we planned to go again later on in the week.


Here's the Dreamscape as we passed by in the afternoon.



By the time we finished with our ride, it was time for lunch.  We decided to head up to the Italian restaurant for the free pasta bar.  Both Cucina del Capitano and Ji Ji’s Asian Kitchen offer a free lunch menu.  The pasta bar was REALLY good!  I wish we had made it back a second time, but we simply ran out of days.  Ron had a penne pasta with sausage and a red meat sauce, and I had a bow tie pasta with grilled chicken and alfredo sauce.  Yummy!


After lunch we were ready to take a break and read a little.  We always enjoy lounging around with our Kindles for some much needed down time.  We play hard, but we also like some relaxing time in between.  Vacation is always a good mix of both.  We headed to the Lanai on deck five and found to shady chairs to settle in for a couple of hours.  I took the “duck of the day” and put it out on an empty table on the other side of the deck.  This one took a while to disappear because there weren’t many people in this area.  Like I said earlier, it was nice and quiet.  Ron MIGHT have had a quick nap.  LOL






This duck took a while to disappear.  There were quite a few kids on this cruise, which surprised me, but I never saw many on the Lanai.



After hanging around for a couple of hours reading, we decided to go get showered and dressed for dinner.  This was the first Elegant Night.  On the way back to our room, I found a duck myself!  I had never found one and was hoping that I did.  The cruising ducks are silly, but I think they’re a lot of fun.  That particular little duck came home with me and is now part of my very eclectic “cruise collection”.


We always enjoy Elegant Night.  There aren’t many opportunities in our normal lives to get dressed up and go out for dinner.  We tend to stay home and cook a lot because when we go out for dinner, we are more likely to gain weight.  On one of our very first cruises, we met three older ladies who were dressed up.  Someone commented to them that they “looked nice enough for elegant night”.  One responded that every night was elegant night!  I liked that and have remembered it ever since.  Although we go a little further on elegant night, we like to dress up for dinner every night of the cruise.  It doesn’t bother me in the least if someone else is the dining room ISN’T dressed up or is wearing a hat or whatever…. I’m pretty much a “you do you and I’ll do me” type of person.





Current Dreamscape photo...



I had hesitated in the past to bring my fanciest dress, but I decided to bring it this year.  It was my “mother of the groom” dress from our son’s wedding a few years ago.  I was afraid that it was going to be too formal, but I finally decided…who cares?!?!  This is my cruise!  I shouldn’t have worried because there were other dresses more formal that mine in attendance.  We got dressed, stopped for a couple of pictures and headed to the Reflections dining room.  We both had prime rib and hazelnut cake for dessert.  Both were very good.




Immediately after dinner, we went to the Liquid Lounge for the “Soulbound” show.  It was SO good!  The Playlist Productions have really stepped up the quality in the past few years.  This show as sort of a “spooky” vibe and we loved every minute of it.  We sat on the side of the lower level and had a good view of the whole show.  The costumes and sets were amazing.  I've added a picture below but you really can't tell much about it other than the spooky aspect.




When the show was finished, we wandered around a bit and finally landed in the piano bar.  There were two pianists on this cruise.  On this night, we were listening to Jeffrey Munks (I think!).  He wasn’t the “sing along” type of entertainer.  He was very quiet and mainly played his own compositions.  He had CD’s available for purchase.  He was very talented, but I confess, I prefer the tunes that I know and I especially enjoy the “sing alongs”.  The second performer, Louis, did those but we were both pretty tired and had an early meeting for our shore excursion, so we didn’t stay to hear him on this night. 










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1 hour ago, mvaughn11 said:

Loving the review and all the marvelous photos!

Thank you so much!  I love doing this!  It’s almost like it makes the experience last a little bit longer.  Thanks for reading!


10 minutes ago, jennybeek said:

Enjoying your review. Did you happen to screenshot the menus for the mdr ? Thank you for sharing.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t.  Before we sailed, I found some really good videos on YouTube that had both the menus and pictures of a lot of the dishes.  I think I searched “Carnival Horizon Dining” but I’m not completely sure.  Check out YouTube and I’m sure you’ll find some great info.  Ron laughed at me because I was on the elliptical while I was reading about all this great food.  🤣


I do have copies of all the Fun Times with the exception of the last sea day.  I was having trouble getting them so scan because they are larger than my scanner.  I could take pictures if you would like to see them but it will take 4-6 pictures per sheet.  I’m happy to do that if you’d like to see those and if you think everyone wouldn’t mind all of the extra pics.

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16 hours ago, Sagittarius traveler said:

I love my name on the TV too I was excited my husband not so much lol.

I know what you mean!  It’s such a silly thing but I really enjoy it.


14 hours ago, luvcruzing said:

Great start to your review.  Looking forward to more.


13 hours ago, tradewinds traveler said:

Can't wait to read more.


8 hours ago, jimbri said:

Enjoying your review.

Thank you so much for reading along!  I really appreciate it!  I hope to have Jamaica up later this evening.

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1 hour ago, marcia014 said:

I'm following along, as I will be on the Horizon on 2/22/20 on the 8 day itinerary.  Can't wait!!!  Feel free to share any tidbits you think would be helpful 🙂

I know you will have a fantastic time!  I would love to do the 8 day itinerary sometime as I've never been to Aruba.  I hope you'll post your adventure here on Cruise Critic so I can follow.

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Tuesday, January 21st – Ocho Rios, Jamaica


We were up bright and early for our shore excursion which met at 8am in the Reflections dining room.  We mostly book shore excursions through Carnival both for convenience and for the guarantee that we will not be left should something unexpected occur.  There have been a couple of times that there have been unexpected things and we were very glad those times that we booked through Carnival.  On this trip, there was a large excursion group in Cozumel whose bus had mechanical issues.  They were a couple of hours late getting back to the ship but, as promised, the ship did not leave them.  Although there have been a couple of times we have booked independently, those are rare, and we have been happy with the Carnival excursions.


This was our first trip to Jamaica and I really wanted to climb Dunn’s River Falls.  Most of the excursions had multiple stops, several of which included the falls.  We settled on a drive through Fern Gully,  Dunn’s River Falls and finally Bamboo Beach Club.  Our group was a fairly large group that required two buses to transport everyone.  We exited the ship and met Gizelle, who would be our guide, and Evan, who would be our driver.  We first drove through Fern Gully.   It wasn’t a long drive from the port.  The foliage was quite thick and the root systems that could be seen on the mountainsides were interesting.  After that, we drove by an old church and a statue of Christopher Columbus.  We then stopped at a local store for t-shirts, magnets and touristy type items.  The stop at the store was only about 10 minutes.  I found a shirt I liked but they had sold out of my size.  I really didn’t think much about it and told Ron I’d just pick one up when we got back to the port.  That was a mistake!  I was glad that I did grab a magnet.


We got back on the bus and headed up the mountain to our second stop which was an overlook called High View Park.  Just before we pulled into the parking lot, Gizelle warned us that there was a gentleman who would be selling brownies and we should NOT buy the brownies.  They were cannabis brownies.  Just as she said, he was right there when the bus came to a stop.  He did have a sign advertising exactly what he was selling so there was full disclosure.  A few people on our bus got off and immediately purchased a couple of joints and started smoking.  Ron was joking that they put the “high” in High View.   This stop was also about fifteen minutes and it didn’t disappoint.  The view of the ship and the town below was amazing!  The High View Park area itself had a large picnic shelter with a bar, tables and restrooms.  Everything was neat and well kept.  There was a D.J. who was playing music.  As I said, we were only there about 15 minutes.  We loaded back up and headed for Dunn’s River Falls. 



Here are some photos from High View Park.  It truly is beautiful there!














Gizelle instructed us to put on water shoes.  You could purchase them if you didn’t have some with you.  They were very specific and were checking to be certain that everyone who was climbing the falls did have water shoes.  They also did not allow you to take loose items up the falls.  Again, Ron was able to take the Go Pro as long as it was on the wrist attachment.


(I will continue this on the next post as I seem to have run out of room.)


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Gizelle instructed us to put on water shoes.  You could purchase them if you didn’t have some with you.  They were very specific and were checking to be certain that everyone who was climbing the falls did have water shoes.  They also did not allow you to take loose items up the falls.  Again, Ron was able to take the Go Pro as long as it was on the wrist attachment.


When we arrived at the falls, we were ushered through the entrance where we met our guide, Marvin.  He was very high energy and was a lot of fun.  We also had a videographer with us.  He was also a lot of fun and we did a lot of yelling and laughing.  I can’t remember his name.  Although I’m sure the video turned out very well, we didn’t buy one at $40. 


We went down a staircase to the beach where our group assembled.  The falls empty into the sea right at the beach.  Marvin gave us a few instructions and we started our climb.  The first part of the climb was done hand in hand.  We climbed a short distance and then stopped for some pictures and to actually sit under the falls with the water falling on this.  We alternated between climbing and stopping.  One time we stopped and had the opportunity to fall backwards into a deep pool.  At another stop we could slide down the rocks, which formed a natural slide.  The whole thing was SO MUCH FUN!  This is one of my favorite shore excursions yet!  The entire climb took about 45 minutes.  When we reached the top of the falls, Gizelle met us and took us back to our bus.  The final stop was to be at Bamboo Beach Club.


)This is the only photo that I could get to upload.  We have several short videos but I can't get the site to accept those.  Sorry!)




Bamboo Beach Club was kind of disappointing.  If this had been our only stop or our main stop, I wouldn’t have been very satisfied with the excursion as a whole.  Since my main motivation for booking this one was to go to the falls, it really didn’t matter much.


The ride to Bamboo Beach was about 30 minutes.  When we arrived, we were taken in and told we would be there 30 – 45 minutes.  They gave us a cup of lemonade.  You could purchase food from their grill area if you wanted but we decided not to get anything.  There were only two meal choices, chicken or fish, and it came as an entire meal.  You could buy a cup of lemonade or other drinks, but nothing like a bag of chips or a simple sandwich.  You could only buy the entire meal, which was $17.


The beach had a bunch of padded chairs.  There was a sunshade over the chairs.  These were not loungers on which you could stretch out….just chairs.  There was a restroom.  It was relatively clean but not especially well kept.  There were a couple of souvenir tents but nothing particularly special.  Other than a small sandy stretch beside the swimming area, the beach was very rocky.











We dropped our stuff and decided to snorkel a little to see if we could find anything interesting.  The roped off swimming area was very small, but the lifeguard allowed us to go a little further down the beach and a little further out.  There really wasn’t anything at all to see.  We swam for just a little while.  We were tired so we decided to go back to the chairs and wait until time to go back to the ship.


Gizelle again gathered us all up and we headed back to the ship.  At this time, it was already after 4pm.   The skies were darkening, and you could tell it was getting ready to pour the rain.  We hadn’t had any lunch, so we were both tired AND hungry however, it was really too late to do anything but wait for dinner.  When we arrived back at the port area, the vendors were closing up and were all selling pretty much the same things anyway.  Ron got a t-shirt, but I decided to pass since they didn’t have the one I had liked earlier.  We got back on board and headed for our room.  While I highly recommend a trip to Dunn’s River Falls, I could have totally missed Bamboo Beach Club with no problem. 


We boarded the ship and went up to our room to shower and get ready for dinner.  After we were ready, we went to Deck 5 to put out today’s duck.  I put this one on the railing at Guy’s Pig and Anchor and again, it didn’t take long for someone to pick it up.  We headed down to the Reflections Dining Room.  We were definitely ready to eat!



Here's the "duck of the day" waiting to be found...





..and a couple of Dreamscape pictures.







Here's a photo taken from our table in the Reflections dining room.




Dinner that night was beef lasagna.  For an appetizer, I had the jerk chicken wings and Ron had frog legs.  We both tried the frog legs but didn’t like them at all so Ron ordered a ham dish as an appetizer instead.  He liked it much better.  We both had the lasagna for dinner.  He had the cheesecake for dessert, and I had the chocolate melting cake.


After dinner we went to the Liquid Lounge for the Vintage Pop show.  Since we got out of dinner fairly late, the only seats available were upstairs in the balcony.  We tried several different seats, but all of the empty seats had the columns blocking the view.  We finally sat at a table and stools in the very back of the theatre because it was the best of what was left.  Again, the show was really good.  There is a group of musicians called “Horizon Wireless” who play in the Ocean Plaza most evenings.  Several of the musicians from that group appeared in Vintage Pop.


I’m really not sure about the name “Horizon Wireless”.  I would have understood the name better if they were an acoustic group!


This is from "Vintage Pop".  You can see the mirrored column in the left side of the picture.





After the show, we went into the atrium where they were giving a salsa dancing lesson.  It had already started by the time we got there so we didn’t get to join in but it was fun to watch.  After a while we headed up to the Lido deck.  The storm really hadn’t hit yet but apparently it was ahead of us.  The captain came on the PA system and announced that we would not be docking in the normal place for Grand Cayman but instead, would be docking at a sheltered bay about seven miles from Geogetown.  We had another early meeting for our shore excursion, so it was time to turn in.  Every time I awakened in the night you could feel the rocking of the ship.  We had obviously caught up with the storm.


I crushed the poor elephant's head just a little moving it from the bed.





Tomorrow.....Grand Cayman!


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Wednesday, January 22nd – Grand Cayman Island


It was only 72 degrees in Grand Cayman.  We decided long sleeves were in order.


We met up with our shore excursion at 7:45. Ron and I had visited Grand Cayman a couple of years before and he had went scuba diving while I snorkeled.  Since we hadn’t seen much of the island at that time, we decided to do a tour on this visit.  This turned out to be a good choice.  All water activities were cancelled for that day due to the rough seas.  The rain had stopped but, as we later observed, the seas were very, very rough!


We were anchored in Spotts Bay and we were on one of the first tenders to leave the ship.  We met our driver, Bennet, who was also our tour guide and set off to see parts of the island we had never seen. 














We drove by the Conch Shell house, which is made entirely of conch shells and mortar.




Our first stop was at the Tortuga Rum factory.  We really didn’t stay at the stop long and there wasn’t much to see.  It was mainly a store with a few museum type pieces outside.  We tried a free sample of the rum cake, which I absolutely hated.  LOL  The two flavors were pineapple and vanilla.  We didn’t like either one but did buy a couple of t-shirts while we were there.




Then we drove by the oldest house on the island, which was built in 1912.




Our next stop was Hell.  We looked at the rock formations first, then went to a souvenir shop to get our passports stamped.  We bought some postcards and mailed some back home because, after all, how many opportunities do you get to mail or receive a postcard from Hell?  We only had a few minutes at this stop, so I didn't take time to get many photos.








Back in the bus we headed for the Turtle Center.  At this point we had reached an area where you could see the sea.  Wow!  It was so choppy!  The waves were breaking over the rocks and the wall.  There was no way anyone could have safely went swimming.  I think the captain made a good choice!






The Turtle Center was one place I would have liked to have more time.  The first viewing area was a large lagoon with some older green sea turtles.  They were HUGE!  I’ve seen some turtles while snorkeling before but nothing that even came close to this size.  You could buy turtle food and feed them but we simply didn’t have time to do that.  The next lagoon held a different type of turtle which was a snapping turtle that was apparently pretty aggressive.  There was a large crocodile in one enclosure.  Finally, we went to the tanks to see the juvenile turtles.  They were very cute.  You could touch them but were no longer allowed to hold them.  The smallest baby turtles were not on display.  I really enjoyed the turtles and would like to go back some time when we had more time.


These pictures don't really do justice to how big these guys were!






These were snapping turtles.




And finally the cute little baby turtles!




We went back to the bus and went to a new development on the island called Caymana Bay.  There were a number of stores, some outdoor vendors and an observation tower.  We climbed the tower to take in the view from the top.  The most impressive part of the observation town was the mosaic tile.  The tiles were tiny and the pictures they made using them were incredible!









The view from the top of the tower.








Caymana Bay is a little more upscale and was really nice.  I liked the round, clear plastic seating areas.  I made Ron take my picture sitting on one…..goofing off, as usual.








Somewhere in Grand Cayman there is an escape room.   It was listed as a shore excursion opportunity but had sold out.   Being a true escape room enthusiast, I was hoping to learn a little more about that.  Maybe next time.


Back on the bus we headed back to the port area and caught our tender back to the ship.  It was early afternoon by the time we got back and was looking like rain again.  Thankfully, we didn’t get caught out when it finally did start raining.  We got some pizza for lunch and then had some salted caramel gelato.  With lunch finished we were getting our second wind, so we headed down to Ocean Plaza for a little trivia.


This was the Dreamscape when we passed by on our way to Ocean Plaza.




We always enjoy playing the trivia games on our cruises.  I have a solid gold plastic “ship on a stick” from every ship we’ve sailed on from playing the trivia games.  Ron would say it is because we are trivial people.  By the time we got to Ocean Plaza, they had already finished a couple of games.  We joined in for a few games.  One of them was called “Outrageous Laws”.  We really didn’t know all of the outrageous laws but with some inference and guessing from the clues, we were able to win a solid gold plastic ship on a stick.  He keeps telling me that at some point we will come home without one.  Not yet!  After playing several games, we decided to head back to our room and get ready for dinner.  This was the second Elegant Night.







We got dressed and headed down for dinner.  On the way down I left the “daily duck” on the lower part of the stair railing.  I didn’t stick around to see if someone got it, but it was gone later that evening.  The menu for this night was filet mignon.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember the appetizers or desserts that we had that night.






After dinner we headed out to get a seat for Celestial Strings.  I wanted to get there as early as possible since I wanted better seats that we’d had the night before.   This was the show I had most looked forward to seeing.  There was a trio of ladies who played violins in the lobby most evenings.  They were very talented and were a huge part of this show.  The show featured a lot of music with a more classical feel and did not disappoint!  All of the sets and costuming was in white.  It was wonderful and probably my favorite show of the week.   When Celestial Strings concluded, we headed to the Ocean Plaza to listen to Horizon Wireless for a little while and then to the piano bar to catch Louis’s show.  The captain again announced that the seas would be somewhat rough, but I didn’t feel anything that night.



Just a couple more Dreamscape photos from the evening...











Up next......Cozumel!





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1 hour ago, marshhawk said:

Cant wait, I am loving your review.  We will be on the Horizon next January.

Thank you!  Are you doing the 6 or 8 day itinerary?  I know you’ll have a fantastic cruise either way!  

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I am so enjoying reading your review of the Carnival Horizon, and pictures as well.  I have been blessed to cruise over 19 times in 25 years, and my 3 sons, 3 d-i-l's, and friend, are all going on the Horizon the 15th of March.  I know this is only YOUR opinion, but when I write reviews, that is what I say, and a person can take it, or leave it. 🙂 I'm wanting to ride the bicycle, so I'm glad that you mentioned about the type of shoes we have to wear. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling our ship will probably be more crowded, because we are going, (unfortunately because my son works for the school, and that is about the only time he can get off) during spring break time. I know we'll have a good time as well.  Look forward to reading the rest of your review!

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15 minutes ago, beshears said:

I am so enjoying reading your review of the Carnival Horizon, and pictures as well.  I have been blessed to cruise over 19 times in 25 years, and my 3 sons, 3 d-i-l's, and friend, are all going on the Horizon the 15th of March.  I know this is only YOUR opinion, but when I write reviews, that is what I say, and a person can take it, or leave it. 🙂 I'm wanting to ride the bicycle, so I'm glad that you mentioned about the type of shoes we have to wear. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling our ship will probably be more crowded, because we are going, (unfortunately because my son works for the school, and that is about the only time he can get off) during spring break time. I know we'll have a good time as well.  Look forward to reading the rest of your review!

Thanks so much for reading along and for the kind words!  My cruising history isn’t nearly as impressive as yours...this was cruise #8 for us.  I wrote my first review last year, so this is only the second review.  We’ve loved every cruise better than the last and this one was the best so far.  I hope you enjoy Horizon as much as we did!

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8 minutes ago, ober134 said:

Thanks for informative review. We just booked this same itinerary on Horizon in November.

Thanks for taking the time to read along!  Jamaica was a new port for us but we had a wonderful time from beginning to end.  I hope yours is as well!

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