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I stood with my arms crossed, nervously shifting my weight from one foot to the other as I watched my mom disappear into blackness. I heard her screams echo deep inside the tunnel. About 30 seconds passed, and the guard signaled to me that it was my turn,
so I took a deep breath and followed.
I emerged into the sunlight soaking wet and hysterically laughing, and I found my mom doing the same. We had just gone down the Fun Things slide at Dr. Seuss WaterWorks onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s new Carnival Horizon. The Seussian-themed waterpark
— which, by the way, is just as much for adults as it is for kids — is one of several new features onboard the line’s second Vista-class vessel.
Among the enhancements are new dining venues, staterooms and entertainment, as well as expanded retail partnerships and improved technology. And although cruise lines are infamous for having terrible internet, that last part is no joke: To prove that
Horizon’s Wi-Fi access is faster than any other ship in Carnival’s fleet, John Heald, brand ambassador for the line, live streamed on Facebook multiple times throughout the cruise. (If you happened to be watching, you may have seen me in the background
stuffing my face with pasta from Cucina del Capitano.)
In addition, the ship employs new mBark technology for faster passenger embarkation, along with smart elevators, where passengers select their desired floor on a screen outside the elevator, then are directed to an elevator that will take them to their
destination with the fewest number of stops. Mind you, on a 3,960-passenger ship, there’s still going to be some wait time, but Christine Duffy, president of Carnival, reports that guests have been quite pleased with the new tech, which is also slated
to roll out onto Carnival Panorama, the third Vista-class ship that is scheduled to launch next year.
One thing that kept my fellow cruisers and me endlessly occupied was debating whether Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse — which serves dinner at an additional cost and an exclusive line of Parched Pig craft brews, currently available
only on Horizon — would make it onto Panorama. Of course, any debate is best served with a smoked porter, a farmhouse ale, a hoppy IPA or a toasted amber, all of which I was able to sample with the ship’s lively brewmaster, Colin Presby.Pig & Anchor
and its bar (which replaced RedFrog Pub & Brewery) is one of the most popular spots onboard Horizon, but Bonsai Teppanyaki — another new dining option and an extension of Bonsai Sushi — certainly gives it a run for its money. Be sure to make reservations
early for this intimate venue, which seats just 16 people; midway through my sailing, it was already fully booked for the rest of the cruise.
In addition to these new venues, new menus can be found throughout the ship at Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse (try the smoked oysters), Cucina del Capitano and The Carnival Deli. Clients will also notice better flow and fewer lines at the Lido buffet due to
new stations; a rebranded 24-hour pizza joint, Pizzeria Del Capitano; a new breakfast menu in the main dining room, which now offers light fare such as avocado toast; and the reintroduction of Baked Alaska on all ships in the fleet.
During my seven-night cruise, which sailed roundtrip from Barcelona through Italian ports and Marseilles, France, I found that our sea day was the best time to experience the ship’s vast offerings. My mom and I relaxation rooms, including a hammam steam
room, dry and infrared saunas, an aromatherapy room and more. There’s also a large whirlpool tub and Tepidariums, which are ergonomically shaped, mosaic-tiled loungers that produce radiant heat. Pro tip: If you’re opting for multiple shore excursions throughout a sailing, as you re-embark, take advantage of evening massage treatment specials.
Sea days may also be a great time for another sort of therapy — the retail kind. With Carnival’s new brand partnerships that include Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Nike, Tag Heuer, Le Vian and Pandora jewelry and more, clients looking to drop some dough have
plenty of options. Additionally, Horizon boasts the first full Victoria’s Secret store at sea.
Also new onboard Horizon are more rooms and suites in the Havana and Family Harbor areas, as well as three new musical productions: Soulbound, Celestial Strings and Vintage Pop, which all utilize interactive LED screens and feature fabulous costumes,
excellent music and talented performers.
And while the onboard experience has certainly been enhanced by novel additions, devoted Carnival cruisers and those new to the brand alike can enjoy popular favorites brought over from other ships, including the SportSquare outdoor recreation area, which
features SkyRide aerial bikes, the SkyCourse ropes course, SkyTrack walking track and more options to get moving. Those seeking a heartier workout will find it at the large, fully-equipped gym, or they can try an additional-fee fitness class, such
as yoga, Pilates, cycling or boot camp. For $12, the morning yoga class was the perfect way to start my day, stretch out my sore muscles after long shore excursions and keep up my practice while traveling.
There’s so much to do onboard Horizon, in fact, that if you’re ever bored, you’re doing it very, very wrong. With an IMAX theater, “Dive-In” movie viewings by the pool, Club 02 for teens, Camp Ocean, Camp Carnival, perennial favorites Seuss at Sea and
the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast, the adults-only Serenity Retreat deck, Broadway-style productions, comedy shows, live music and karaoke, there’s absolutely something for everyone.
But best of all? The brand’s fun-loving spirit abounds onboard Horizon thanks to the approximately 1,450 crew members from 60 countries. After my mom and I had thoroughly amused ourselves on the waterslides and were returning to our cabin with crazy hair,
slight sunburns and big grins, our stateroom steward, Aleksandar, popped his head around the corner and gave us an equally broad smile.
“Looks like you’ve been having too much fun,” he said.
From the start of their cruise, guests are welcomed onboard with pops of color and by friendly staffers.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
The Serenity Adult-Only Retreat is a kid-free deck where guests can lounge in the sun, grab a drink and chill out in the hot tub.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
For more adults-only fun, head to Alchemy Bar, and ask a mixologist to make you a handcrafted drink.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
The whole family will enjoy Bonsai Teppanyaki, currently only available onboard Horizon. Pro tip: Reserve a table early, because this popular venue seats just 16.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
With lobster rolls, fish and chips, fried shrimp, steamed lobster by the pound and more, Seafood Shack (available for an additional fee) should be on a client’s must-eat list.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
Passengers can work off all that food with a trip or two on the SkyRide.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
The SportSquare outdoor recreation area offers a ropes course, mini-golf, a putting green, a basketball court, cornhole, pingpong and more.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
One of the shows new to Horizon is “Soulbound,” which takes guests through a gothic-inspired journey of New Orleans.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
For an extra fee, cruisers can experience the Thermal Suites, Thalassotherapy Pool or large spa whirlpool in Cloud 9 Spa.Credit: 2018 Carnival Cruise Line
The DetailsCarnival Cruise Linewww.carnival.com