This will be my 9th cruise. I am a single mother of 2 (6 year old daughter and 21 year old autistic son). I also travel with my support team grandmother and mother who stay in a separate stateroom. My review is based on the activities that worked best for my family. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
Carnival Hub App:
Last year this app sucked. It was a complete waste. However this year I LOVED the app and give it 4 stars. I used it to plan my days. It provided reminder alerts and showed deck plans. I also used it to for dinning reservation, review menus and times of operation. Also loved to check out the pictures that were taken of us on the ship. You can purchase directly from the app but I felt they were way too expensive and lord knows I have tons of cruise pictures with no frames at home already. However the coolest feature on the app is the ability to order 24 hour pizza ANY WHERE on the ship for only $5. You select the pizza type, tag location on the deck plan, and take a picture of yourself for easy finding and in less than 20 minutes you have a pizza box delivered with a smile.
Things I would love to see;
1. Camp Ocean schedule.
2. A way to get urgent announcements via the app. For example my daughter had a minor fall at camp and they called my stateroom and left a message about the incident. I would’ve loved to get a message on the app instead because who really stays in their stateroom?
3. I would love to see where the ship is located.
TIP: Get the app before you board for quick & immediate use.
Internet speed in the past were horrible but I think they finally got this right on the Horizon. I was connected 98% of the time. I purchased Value Wi-Fi Plan which included social media and emails. I purchased online before boarding and saved 15%. The price per day is only $10.25. They have a cheaper option if you don’t care for emails. Look on their website for more details.
I used this option twice for my picky eaters and when I was exhausted from port days. However there is a cost for most options on the menu. The wait was over 45 mins. The firecracker shrimp were amazing and the kids loved the chicken fingers and grill cheese. I don’t recommend the cookies…they were hard and based on the way they crumbled they were very old.
I did not purchase the Bottomless Bubbles (Unlimited soda) package however before my cruise day I purchased the Purified Water 12 pack for only $4.50 which was in our stateroom when I got there. I also packed two boxes of Capri Sun in our suitcase and our stateroom fridge had all the beverages we needed.
My 6 year old loved Camp Ocean and met so many friends. Two of them were invited to her birthday party in August because she truly loved spending time with them. Her favorite camp coach was Coach JZ who was amazing with ALL the kids. However one of the coaches (didn’t catch her name) was not so nice and my daughter claims she was yelling at kids during camp.
Adjacent to Camp Ocean was the Dr. Seuss Bookville section which has tons of Dr. Seuss books, soft toys and such a colorful and happy space. My son loved spending quite time in here reading some of his favorites. I saw so many Dr. Seuss books I never knew existed and I made a list of the ones we plan to buy and add to our collection. The books are allowed to be checked out and then return before the end of your cruise.
Cherry on Top:
For folks with a sweet tooth like myself this place was heaven. My son loved the cameral popcorn ($8 a bag) and my daughter and I loved the cold stone inspired ice cream ($2.50). The ice cream was put inside a waffle/cake shaped like a fish. Which I learned is a popular Japanese food called Taiyaki. I was not a fan of the Taiyaki but my daughter loved it. You can add as many toppings as you wish and the Praline Pecan flavor was delicious. I wish they had a cup option.
JavaBlue Café & Shake Spot:
Another spot for folks with a sweet tooth is Shake Spot. The shakes were really good. They have strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and black & white. I hope they would add more flavors such as cookie and cream. My son ate a macadamia cookie from here every day. They were fresh and tasty. I didn’t try the other stuff in here but they really looked good. They had blue velvet cake, carrot cake, chocolate covered strawberries and more. Don’t forget to get a reward card. Your 7th shake is free.
Plaza Outdoor Area outside Ocean Plaza & The Lanai outside Cherry on top (Deck 5 – Promenade):
I took many naps in these areas. These are the best areas on the ship for some quite time and some good ocean breeze. The views are amazing. My autistic son demanded to go here and relax which I then used for some much needed nap time. Very few people come here…not sure why but at times we were alone for hours on a ship with over 3900 guest.
We had a little rain and I took advantage of the Thriller Ride in the IMAX Theater on deck 6. It was so much fun and worth the extra cost. Go check it out.
Sadly with so many guest onboard it was very hard to score reservations for the specialty dining spots and I tried on the app daily. I was told I needed to RSVP before I board to better my chances. Specialty dining spots are an additional cost, check online for more details.
Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse (extra cost) I had a sample of this when we first boarded the ship. It was good but not wonderful enough for me to pay for it. I am open to try next time.
Guy's Burger Joint I loved on my last carnival cruise, love inside Cancun airport but not my favorite on the Horizon.
BlueIguana Cantina Grandmom loved this spot. The lines were always too long for me.
Cucina del Capitano
Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse
Really wanted reservation for these. Every slot was booked on day one.
Bonsai Sushi (extra cost) My son wanted to try sushi for the first time so we went to support him and he ordered a California roll. I felt the staff was not the friendliest. Would not return.
Seafood Shack (extra cost) Another family favorite. We had lunch here many times. Loved the fish and chips, shrimp basket and crab cake sliders. They have a little wait because they serve fresh.
Main Dining We ate here 1 time during the entire cruise. It was satisfying but I was not a fan of the items on the menu. Check the app, the menu changes daily.
JiJi Asian Kitchen (extra cost) WOW is all I can say. This was the ONLY reservation I was able to secure on the last day of sailing and I was so glad I did. The food was ridiculously good. The egg roll, pork belly, sweet & sour shrimp were the best things I ate all week. I am salivating as I type. The hostess was not nice AT ALL and didn’t look like she liked her job but the food had me forget her name. They do not have a children’s menu which I feel they needed to make this place perfect. My daughter is such a picky eater and I was hoping they had some basic chicken nugget with fries or pizza to keep her busy while the family stuffed our faces.
Carnival Deli Another hidden gem. This is open from 11am-11pm and tucked away inside the Lido Marketplace. Besides AWESOME sandwich and wraps they serve hotdogs and fries…perfect for the kids to munch on before meals.
Havana Bar Loved this spot. Mambo Magic were awesome. They were a live band that played everything from Bachata to Salsa and everything in between. My mother and I sang and danced the night away in the Havana bar. Kids are allowed which is always a WIN for me. Big thank you to Carnival for giving everyone on board an entertainment option that fits our individual style.
Overall I give Carnival Horizon an 8 out of 10. So far this was my favorite Carnival ship. I enjoyed all the new technologies, the spacious stateroom, the entertainment, the upgrades to Camp Ocean, the food options and the Cruise Director (Chris) was amazing. However 89% of the staff was not happy to be there (for whatever odd reason) and were pretty rude, unresponsive to basic and reasonable request and more need to be educated on folks with disability. A big smile goes a long way.