The Carnival Horizon: Complete Photo Tour of Carnival Cruise Line's Megaship
Carnival Cruise Line’s second Vista-class vessel Horizon debuted in April 2018. With this ship, Carnival tweaks its successful Vista formula by adding new restaurants and musical revues, plus a Dr. Seuss-themed splash park.
Although smaller than Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas—a 5,500-passenger behemoth that launched the same month—Horizon offers 13 entertainment venues, 12 places to eat, and several pools. The ship appeals to passengers who like the wide array of options available on megaships but don’t necessarily need a vessel big enough to be seen from outer space.
- 3,934 passengers at double occupancy (max. 4,977)
- 1,967 total staterooms
- 133,500 gross registered tons
- Maiden voyage: April 2, 2018 from Barcelona, Spain
- 1,055 feet long
- 122 feet wide (158 feet wide on pool decks)
- 15 guest decks
- 27 feet draft
- 18 knots cruising speed
- Booking: 800/764-7419, www.carnival.com
Dreamscape, Horizon’s funnel-shaped atrium centerpiece, rises 24 feet high and consists of more than 2,000 customizable LED tiles. Technicians program Dreamscape to project more than 100 artworks, including drawings made by youngsters at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Since 2010 Carnival has raised more than $13 million for that organization.
At this themed splash park (replacing the signature water slides on other Carnival ships), kids get wet by zipping down Seuss-styled slides and standing under a 300-gallon bucket dump shaped like the Cat in the Hat’s chapeau. A slide named for that mischievous feline sends riders down 450 feet of twists and turns. Polka dots and special lights add to the fun of the 213-foot Thing 1 and Thing 2 slide. A kiddie wet zone entices tots with dripping faucets and water sprays.
Video technology energizes Horizon’s Playlist Productions shows. Technicians program LED screens as backdrops, creating fluid sets marked by special effects to complement shows. Horizon stages “Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance,” which first appeared on Carnival Vista, as well as three new revues. “Soulbound” delivers rhythm and blues, “Celestial Strings” combines classical music with pop tunes, and “Vintage Pop” highlights jazz and the toe-tapping tunes of the 1920s and ‘30s.
Pair baby back ribs, pulled pork, and cedar-smoked salmon with craft beers at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse Brewhouse. The new concept eatery from Food Network personality Guy Fieri debuts on Horizon, which also features Guy’s Burger Joint (which we'll visit later). The Smokehouse Brewhouse opens at 5 p.m. with items priced á la carte. You can eat for free at the Pig & Anchor’s barbecue lunch buffet on embarkation day and sea days.
At Bonsai Teppanyaki, watching the preparation of the meal is almost as enjoyable as eating it. Chefs juggle knives, toss shrimp, and flip eggs in the service of fun and fried rice. A first for Carnival, the restaurant is open for dinner every night and for lunch on sea days. Vegetarian options are available, too.
Bike 150 feet above the deck while savoring panoramic views of the deep blue sea on SkyRide, a thrill attraction that’s also on Vista. A harness tethers you to your bike, which is encased in a pod with open sides. The dual track system allows you to race the cyclist next to you or ignore your fellow rider and pedal at your own pace. Because of SkyRide’s popularity, lines can be long. Consider queuing up on port days when wait times may be shorter than on sea days. Riders must be at least 54 inches tall.
SkyCourse tests your balance and ability to forget about heights as you make your way across cables, step onto spaced platforms, and walk on beams nearly 150 feet above the deck. Choose either the beginner or intermediate route. Both challenge you for a stretch of 230 feet. Participants must be at least 48 inches tall.
Both the SkyRide and SkyCourse are part of the ship’s SportSquare complex, but not everything in this area is about high-in-the-sky thrills. You can also putt your way through nine holes of mini golf at SkyGreens, shoot hoops on a basketball court, and play foosball, ping pong, and pool.
The Lido Deck’s pool is the locus of the action. You can listen to a live band, grab a taco from the adjacent BlueIguana Cantina, or load up on salads, sandwiches, and hot entrees from the nearby buffet. The pool’s apron-like shaded areas enable you to dip your toes in the water—a nice option for those aiming to avoid the sun. On sea days expect the pool to be packed, making swimming unlikely. Arrive early if you want to claim a chaise longue.
Get into the game by playing onstage versions of Hasbro classics such as Connect 4, Yahtzee, and Simon Flash. Compete with friends and family or have your posse cheer you on as you vie for prizes.
Serenity, Horizon’s adults-only area, caters to those who like to sunbathe without the backbeat of bands or a chorus of cackling kids. The retreat comes with comfortable chaise longues, hot tubs, a bar, and Fresh Creations, a salad station that’s available on sea days. Because the complimentary oasis is popular, plan to arrive early to snag a spot. You must be at least 21 to enter.
Bunking in a nautically themed Family Harbor room provides access to a concierge and free meals at four premium restaurants for children ages 11 and younger when they dine with an adult. The only drawback to these rooms is their location on deck 2, beneath the kitchen and two main dining areas. Passengers staying in Family Harbor accommodations on sister-ship Vista have complained of frequent noise—so choose your cabin carefully.
Pictured: Family cabin on Carnival Vista
The big perk for staying in a Family Harbor room is exclusive access to the Family Harbor Lounge, a gathering spot serving complimentary breakfast, afternoon snacks, and, in the evening, milk and cookies.
Little kids will like the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, which features special appearances by the Cat in the Hat along with Thing 1 and Thing 2. In addition to the titular meal, kids can try Truffula Tree pancakes, Fox in Socks steak and eggs, Horton’s cereal-crusted French Toast, and other Seuss-themed entrees. The meal costs a little extra but the selfies are free.
Camp Ocean, Carnival’s children’s program, provides supervised activities for ages 2 through 11. Penguins, ages 2 through 5, play ocean bingo, do arts and crafts, and listen to stories (FYI, counselors will change the diapers of 2-year-olds but not the nappies of those 3 years and older). Stingrays, ages 6 to 8, do arts and crafts, play sports, and enjoy game nights. Sharks, ages 9 to 11, challenge each other with video games, dance at a kids’ disco, decorate T-shirts, and play basketball and volleyball. Sharks may sign themselves in and out of the program if their parents give their consent. For cruisers ages 12 through 14, there’s a dedicated space called Circle “C”.
The Club O2 lounge provides a place to hang out for 15- to 17-year-olds. A buddy-like director eases the group into Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 tournaments, declares scavenger hunt winners, gets the dancing going, and serves as DJ. Since teens sleep in, Club O2 opens in the afternoon and closes down after midnight.
The Cloud 9 Spa offers massages, facials, salt scrubs, seaweed wraps, acupuncture, and other soothing experiences (extra fees apply). Treatments come with access to a thermal suite outfitted with heated chaise longues, steam areas, and a bubbling saltwater pool. If you’re interested in spa services, book them as soon as possible because the most convenient time slots fill quickly.
A Cloud 9 Spa stateroom comes with complimentary spa entrance, free fitness classes, priority spa reservations, upgraded toiletries, and soothing décor in shades of sea green and cream.
Pictured: a Spa cabin on the Carnival Vista
Seafood Shack serves steamed lobster, peel-and-eat shrimp, crab cake sliders, lobster rolls, oysters, fish-and-chips, and buckets of fried clam strips. Meals here cost extra; steamed lobster is priced by the pound.
Inspired by America’s roadside diners, Guy Fieri’s second Horizon eatery (open for lunch only) serves five types of burgers, including a Pig Patty made out of bacon and a Chilius Maximus topped with cheese, an onion ring, Guy’s secret sauce, and chili. Add onions, sautéed mushrooms, chopped bacon, and other sauces from the toppings bar. All orders come with hand-cut fries, and, best of all, your burger is included in the price of the voyage.
Horizon has the largest and most varied retail offerings in Carnival’s fleet. For the first time, passengers can purchase items by Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Breitling, and Hublot. The ship aims for “retailtainment,” adding beyond-browsing shopping experiences such as designing your own Swarovski crystal jewelry at Hip Fish and attending spirits tastings at Port Side Liquor & Tobacco.
For those seeking poolside sunbathing and a place to soak that’s less crowded than the typically packed Lido deck pool, the Havana accommodations are a good choice. You can pick your price range, choosing an interior, ocean-view, balcony, or cabana suite. The latter features an outdoor patio with a chaise longue and a chair hammock. Because the suites’ patios open to a common deck area, guests in these cabins should feel comfortable with strangers strolling by. Also, only children ages 12 years or older are allowed to stay in Havana cabins.
Pictured: Havana cabin on Carnival Vista