GREEN EGGS AND FAMILY
Let us tell you a Thing 1 (and Thing 2) about a new chapter in blockbuster cruising
She’s big, bold and brash, home to the first Dr Seuss waterworks fun park and a two-lane bike ride in the sky, plus there’s smashed avocado on toast and good coffee. Welcome to Carnival Horizon, the latest blockbuster on the new ship circuit that’s joined Carnival Corporation’s global fleet of more than 100 ships across nine cruise brands.
Under the command of Captain Luigi De Angelis, a native of Ischia in Italy, who is the fourth generation to serve as a ship captain, the 15-deck Carnival Horizon has been cruising the Mediterranean for its inaugural season before heading to Miami, Florida, for Caribbean jaunts.
There are 4300 passengers on board. Most are American, with a smattering of British, Europeans, Chinese and Japanese as well as 11 Australians and New Zealanders for a seven-night Barcelona return cruise. Ports include Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy’s Naples, Civitavecchia and Livorno and Marseilles in France.
With 1445 crew from 56 nations aboard service is prompt and friendly and there’s little queuing despite the hefty numbers.
Everything is sparkling new and while some diehard Carnival fans mention they took a little time adjusting to hi-tech features such as the ever-changing LED atrium Dreamscape sculpture and new lift system, it appears most are impressed by the super dooper facilities and new restaurants.
Here’s the lowdown on this fun family ship where you may well be ambushed by a Dr Seuss deck parade and, just like in one of his books, you can dine on green eggs and ham at a special family breakfast.
START AND FINISH
Thousands of passengers all wanting to board is a sure-fire recipe for chaos, but surprisingly it’s quick and painless thanks to a new efficient check-in system and staggered boarding times. Wheeling my own luggage on board, I was unpacked and out on deck exploring within 20 minutes. Disembarkation in Barcelona is also pretty swift but be prepared for a lengthy taxi wait.
Forget about pressing buttons when you enter a lift, here you punch in the deck you want on an external panel that flashes which lift to enter then whisks you to your destination. Hotel director, Pierre B. Camilleri says research shows it cuts waiting and travel time.
A wide range of accommodation is on offer – fancy a spa cabin with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa or an extra-roomy stateroom in Family Harbour with nautical decor? Tropics-inspired Havana staterooms and suites that come with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and infinity pool are snapped up.
Home is a deck seven stateroom with blue and camel decor plus blond timber wardrobe and mini fridge. The balcony is perfect for ocean and port gazing. Olen, an unflappable steward, ensures everything is shipshape and reveals his creativity with towel animals that hang from the ceiling or lounge on the bed.
There’s literally a smorgasbord of restaurants and cafes onboard so you will never go hungry or tire of venues – some you pay extra for, some you don’t. Specialty restaurants incur an extra fee but you get your money’s worth. Favourites include the first Bonsai Teppanyaki at sea where chefs
YOU MAY WELL BE AMBUSHED BY A DR SEUSS DECK PARADE ON THIS FUN FAMILY SHIP
dazzle with daring knife skills preparing lobster tails, Wagyu beef and spiced, grilled chicken with a Japanese twist. Next door Bonsai Sushi serves traditional sushi and sashimi rolls.
Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse offers premium meat cuts and seafood with a spectacular white chocolate dessert creation – art on a plate. Guests are also serenaded by music from the adjoining piano bar which is another popular haunt.
At Cucina del Capitano you will find delicious house-made burrata with tomato and basil, pastas, beef and chicken Italian dishes with a knockout tiramisu or delicious gelato for dessert. Prepare to sing along with waiters when they serenade with That’s Amore.
Ji Ji Asian serves Mongolianinspired dishes while poolside at the Seafood Shack, lobster rolls and crab cake sliders have a following.
But the talk of the ship is a match made in heaven – a barbecue and brewhouse which is another Carnival first where Guy Fieri, a member of the American Royal National Barbecue Hall of Fame, has his Pig and Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse and a brewery. The menu is all about “low and slow” cooking with smoked on-board brisket, Memphis-style baby back ribs, dry rubbed chicken and cedar-smoked salmon with apricot glaze.
Brewmaster Colin Presby is excited about four distinctive micro brews including Parched Pig Smoked Porter, Farmhouse Ale, West Coast IPA and Toasted Amber that are brewed onboard.
The Lido Marketplace offers food stations serving hot and cold tasty dishes with salad bars, gourmet sandwiches and for a sweet treat gelato and a range of decadent gourmet cakes at the Sweet Spot.
Ship board dining is impressive overall but the main dining room was a little inconsistent at times – bland chicken and uninteresting vegetables arrived one night and the next the curry was sensational.
There are bars and cafes serving burgers, tacos, seafood and pizzas poolside and there never seemed to be a long wait plus there’s also room service.
Favourite watering holes include the Alchemy Bar where vintage themed cocktails are created nightly and the Havana Bar where you can sip a mojito and tap your toes to the Cuban classic Guantanamera.
Whimsical adventures await at the Dr Seuss WaterWorks that is definitely the star of the show for families as youngsters slip, slide and splash around with dual slides and a giant tipping bucket that drenches all.
The popular Skyride gives an adrenaline rush and a bird’s eye view of the ship – just take a seat and start pedalling on the suspended track.
There’s an IMAX Theatre, sports square with the first sky ropes course at sea, outdoor fitness area, mini golf, pools, ping pong and billiards, shuffleboard and a two-lane bowling alley.
The walking track has its devotees as well – seven times around equals a kilometre. Pilates, yoga and stretch classes are on offer and the fitness centre gets a workout.
There are also dedicated children’s clubs catering for ages from 2-17 with fun activities.
There’s never a dull moment on this ship with everything from bingo, lip synch battles, karaoke, games, comedy and stage shows including
Soulbound, a sinister story of mayhem and dastardly deeds with gothic-inspired costumes. Port days are busy with optional tours including do-it-yourself with bus or train transport organised and maps provided. Movies are poolside on the big screen – Murder on the Orient
Express seems so much better bobbing around the Mediterranean. Side trips include Sorrento, Rome, Florence and Pisa, and showstopper Aix-en-Provence, with other options.
Forget port shopping, there are enough shops onboard to satisfy the most discerning shopper. Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Kate Spade, top shelf jewellery shops stocked with designer watches and gems are busy and Cherry on Top with 120 kinds of bulk candy and ice creams tempts all.
A little eavesdropping in the lift reveals some avid Carnival cruisers are concerned there are no tablecloths at afternoon tea and cabin doors slamming is a common bug bear.
TAKE A BREAK FROM KIDS
If you don’t want to be serenaded by squealing children, escape to the adults-only Serenity Retreat with hammocks and sunbeds – on sea days there’s a healthy chopped salad station. Cloud 9 Spa offers treatments and passes to the thermal suite with sensory showers and tiled, heated sun lounges – heaven after a busy port day.
BEST SUITED FOR
It’s a fun family ship and Carnival has stepped up with a wide variety of dining choices and fun activities. Staff are excellent and I’m impressed by the efficiency. As for avocado on toast, head to the dining room for breakfast, and Java Blue Cafe does a roaring trade in good coffee.
Those who long for 24-hour allyou-can-eat soft serve ice cream and pizza will be in cruise ship heaven.
THE AUTHOR WAS A GUEST OF CARNIVAL HORIZON
Dr Seuss WaterWorks Park on Carnival Horizon is fun for all; Dreamscape LED atrium lighting will enthrall; try green eggs and ham for breakfast, and enjoy the first Bonsai Teppanyaki at sea. CAT IN THE HAT
GREEN EGGS AND HAM