Carnival Horizon is a bold, beautiful ship jam-packed with activities, dining options, and bars and lounges galore. The cruise ship is sophisticated and modern, though with Carnival's take on those concepts, which includes bold colors, bright spaces and a heavy dose of fun.
The scene is set from the moment you step onboard, where live music and enthusiastic crew members greet you in the ship's main atrium, which is built around a brilliant LED funnel called the Dreamscape. The digital sculpture changes often throughout the day, and it's simply mesmerizing.
Families will adore Carnival Horizon, which boasts a huge variety of cabins for multiple passengers and larger groups, nighttime babysitting, a flashy splash park, outdoor and indoor activities, and great kids clubs. Dining rooms feature kids menus and some of the specialty restaurants include reduced prices for kids under 12.
The ship makes great use of outdoor space, thanks in large part to a wraparound promenade on Deck 5, which during the day is great for relaxing while at night it becomes additional seating for the restaurants and bars adjacent to them indoors. We also love the outdoor bar at the Havana Club, which features a pool, two hot tubs, colorful deck chairs and Latin music.
Carnival Horizon also debuted some new technology, including a smart elevator concept, designed to help with crowd control and to move people along faster -- which it does with mostly success. It's also got an upgraded version of Carnival's Hub App, which on Horizon allows passengers to do things like make restaurant reservations using their devices. (You can see the menus for each of the restaurants using the app, too, which helps with decision making.)
Service on our sailing was hit and miss. Restaurant and cabin crew members were terrifically friendly and efficient, while bar service ranged from slow to apathetic. We had long wait times poolside for service, and visited bars listed in the daily schedule as "open" only to find they were closed.
Overall, Carnival Horizon does what Carnival does best: Provides a fun vacation with endless options for passengers of all kinds. It does it with tongue-in-cheek signage and programming, a terrific partnership with Dr. Seuss and a range of great dining venues and entertaining bars and lounges.
Carnival Cruise Line is recommending vaccinations for those 12 and older on Horizon sailings from Miami. Within the limits of the CDC's definition of a "vaccinated" cruise consisting of 95 percent all passengers and crew, vaccination exemptions are possible with preapproval, including for children.
Unvaccinated adults must have travel insurance in place that meets the line's requirements ($10,000 medical/$30,000 emergency evacuation with no COVID-19 exception.) Children of all ages are welcome but must be preapproved if unvaccinated.
Carnival ships are sailing with reduced overall capacity, currently around 70 per cent.
Off the ship
Carnival Horizon passengers tend to be a fun-loving group hailing from all over the world -- but especially the United States. The ship's multiple cabin options and myriad activities appeal to families, and you'll see all kinds of kids onboard especially during the summer and over the holidays. Couples across all age ranges are common, as are large groups sailing together.
Daytime: During the day, relaxed and casual is the name of the game. Virtually anything goes, though swimsuit attire is restricted to the outdoor spaces and men are required to wear shirts with sleeves to the main dining room.
Evening: In the evening, Carnival Horizon adheres to what the line calls a Cruise Casual dress code. For women, that means beachy dresses, casual skirts, pants or capris, jeans or dressy shorts with blouses. Men are requested to wear items such as sport slacks, khakis, jeans, long dress shorts and collared shirts.
On formal or elegant night, main dining room attire is fancier, with men wearing suits or dress pants with dress shirts and sport coats. Tuxedos are rare but not unwelcome. Women wear cocktail dresses, pantsuits, evening gowns or elegant skirts with blouses. Not all passengers participate in formal night; passengers who wish to skip it can dine at the Lido Restaurant wearing casual clothing instead. Still, you're likely to see a few passengers wearing more casual clothing in the main dining room on formal nights. Carnival Horizon sailings of two to five nights have one cruise elegant evening; sailings of six nights or longer have two.
Not permitted: Shorts (including cutoff jeans), T-shirts, flip-flops, bathing suits, caps and men's sleeveless shirts are never permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants during dinner.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival.
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Cruising with Masks, Covid Vaccination and testing