More fun to choose aboard new Carnival Horizon

A Carnival Horizon first - the fun and colorful Dr. Seuss WaterWorks A Carnival Horizon first - the fun and colorful Dr. Seuss WaterWorks (Photo: Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival Horizon packs all the punches that live up to Carnival Cruise Line's 'Choose Fun' motto, while introducing some new tricks.

This second ship in the 133,500gt Vista class follows Carnival Vista by two years.

Carnival Horizon introduces a Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks, the line's first teppanyaki restaurant and a combined smokehouse/brewhouse with Food Network celebrity Guy Fieri. More premium accommodations, an elevated steak house experience, new shows, upgraded retail and new technology are other features.

New app speeds check-in

When it comes to technology, the mBark mobile application is speeding cruisers through check-in at a 30% faster rate, according to Carnival president Christine Duffy. During the ship's inaugural summer sailings from Barcelona, the Intercruises ground handlers are using hand-held devices to quickly process those passengers who completed online check-in in advance (the vast majority) when they land at the airport, en route to their motor coach transfers to the ship.

This breezes them through the airy, new Carnival Corp. terminal at the Port of Barcelona, where staff are also available for conventional check-in.

On board, Carnival Horizon's Wi-Fi is the fastest in the fleet and can support Facebook live-streaming, Duffy said.

Schindler elevators the 'biggest buzz'

And those attention-getting 'destination-based' elevators by Schindler—which Duffy said have sparked the 'biggest buzz' on social media—are another example of technological advance.

Instead of pushing a button to call the elevator, riders select their destination on a touchscreen and are immediately directed to a specific car, indicated by a letter. In the car, there are no further buttons to push (other than 'open' and 'close'); riders are whisked straight to the floor they selected.

The idea is to speed up the service, and on busy embarkation days, the elevators can be programmed to go just to the decks where lunch is served. Once the staterooms are ready, the elevators can access all floors.

The system takes a little getting used to. One disadvantage is if a rider changes his mind about the deck; there is no way to pick a different floor en route. But Carnival Horizon hotel director Pierre Camilleri said the elevators are getting 'great reviews from our guests.'

New Smokehouse|Brewhouse

When it comes to dining, Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse|Brewhouse serves barbecue favorites and four new craft beers brewed on board. (It replaces the RedFrog Pub & Brewery on Vista.) Pricing is a la carte—for example, $4 for Trash Can Nachos, loaded with pulled pork, bourbon brown sugar sauce, melted cheese and pico de gallo. Barbecue ribs start at $8.

Carnival's VP beverage operations Edward Allen said the brewhouse's ParchedPig Toasted Amber Ale was the best-seller on last week's inaugural cruise. As for signature cocktails, they include a Bacon Manhattan, where the bourbon is infused with bacon fat.

Bonsai Teppanyaki expands the line's popular sushi restaurant with teppanyaki dishes and the chefs' knife-skills showmanship. The service charge for a three-course dinner depends on the protein selected and ranges from $18 to $30.

Carnival's consistently outstanding steak house, Fahrenheit 555, has been elevated with new preparations and presentations as chef Jeffry Dias blends 'European traditionalism with Asian minimalism and American ingenuity.'

There are new sides like French fries with bourbon-smoked paprika, and a salt menu gives six choices (Himalayan Pink is the most popular). Smoked oysters are served with a flourish under a smoke-filled glass dome. And one dessert, Art on the Table, involves a chef 'painting' a large white palette with fruit sauces, candies, meringue and cookies to go with big globes of ice cream.

The Piano Bar is now located beside (and open to) the steak house, so piano tunes serve as the backdrop for diners tucking in to entrees like super-tender wagyu beef, spice-rubbed USDA prime ribeye, filet mignon and lobster tail. Fahrenheit 555's service charge is $35.

More premium Havana staterooms

Carnival Horizon has upped the number of premium accommodations, with 18 additional Havana rooms for a total of 79. These provide exclusive daytime access to the tropical Havana pool and bar. Other premium rooms are the 96 Family Harbor accommodations, 104 spa cabins and 74 suites.

There is abundant nighttime entertainment. New Playlist Production shows are 'Soulbound,' a gothic-inspired journey through New Orleans; 'Celestial Strings,' with a live string trio; and 'Vintage Pop,' mingling music from the Great Gatsby and Cotton Club era with contemporary songs. Carnival Horizon is also introducing magic shows; the first headliner is Richard Jones, the 2016 winner of 'Britain's Got Talent.'

The ship continues Carnival standards like Lip Sync Battle, Rock-N-Glow, Hasbro game shows, deck parties and Punchliner Comedy Club, with both adult and family-friendly comedy.

First Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks

Carnival's first Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks park is fun and colorful. Slides are named after The Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the giant dumping bucket is The Cat's red-and-white-striped hat.

As well, Carnival Horizon is packed with all the line's latest family draws including an IMAX Theater, the multi-dimensional Thrill Theater, SkyRide, SportSquare with its ropes course, mini golf course, clubhouse games and more. Camp Ocean for children and the teen clubs Circle C and Club O2 are reprised.

According to Duffy, Carnival carries more children than any other line—800,000 a year.

When it comes to shops, Carnival Horizon's upgraded retail features Le Vian jewelry, Victoria’s Secret and, for the first time, designer brands Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Breitling and Hublot.

Posted 18 April 2018

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review