Taking a cruise aboard Carnival Horizon? Then there’s a lot you should know to make the most of your vacation starting the day you step on the ship.
As Carnival’s newest ship, the company has put all sorts of new and exciting touches on the sailing experience that you may not have experienced anywhere else. To help you start your trip off right — and sail like a pro on day one — we’ve rounded up 15 of the most important tips for sailing on Carnival Horizon. (You can also read our entire review of the ship here.)
The Cheapest Beer on the Ship Is in the Buffet
Head to a bar on the ship and you can expect to pay $6-7 for a brew, before you add in the mandatory 15% tip. But on Carnival there’s one spot where you can find beer for just $4 a glass. In the main buffet (also known as the Lido Marketplace) there are four automated beer stations. You just tap your card and you can self pour a beer for $0.29 per ounce — or about $4 for an entire glass. It’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and serves two different brews: Bud Light and ThirstyFrog Red. You can read more details about the Beer Station here.
You Can Do Your Own Laundry For Cheaper
You can send your dirty clothes to get cleaned, but it’s pricey. The rates run about $2-4 per item. An entire load of laundry would cost a fortune. On the Horizon, we found self-serve laundry rooms on most decks that only cost $6 for a load. That’s $3 for a wash cycle and $3 for a dry cycle. Also, soap is available for $1.50.
That price is way cheaper than what you’d pay traditionally to send your clothes off to the ship’s laundry room and can leave you with fresh clothes after a sweaty day in port.
Some Specialty Restaurants Are Free at Lunch
There are a couple of restaurants — Pig & Anchor Smokehouse and Cucina del Capitano — that have free options at lunch, even though you have to pay to eat here at dinner. Keep in mind they may not be the full menu available (Cucina del Capitano offers a pasta bar at lunch, for example). Still if you want to be able to try a specialty restaurant without having the extra charge, these are good options.
The Havana Bar Is Open to Everyone
On Carnival Horizon there is a special section at the back of the ship called the Havana Experience. This includes a number of staterooms with a different style and design than the rest of the ship, an exclusive outdoor area with pool and hot tubs, and the Havana Bar on deck 5. While the pool is only for Havana guests, anyone can go into the Havana Bar. The bar is dark and cozy and plays lively Latin music in the evenings. It’s a great spot for a romantic date whether you want to do some salsa dancing or just have a drink in a comfy spot.
The Havana Pool Area Is Open to the Public After 7 p.m.
At the back of the ship on deck 5 is the Havana pool. Complete with two whirlpools and the main pool, it’s a cool spot that’s normally off-limits to anyone not staying in a Havana room (you have to have a wristband to enter). But after 7 p.m. it’s actually open to everyone. Most people don’t know this, so the area stays pretty empty most of the time. If you want a pool and hot tub practically to yourself, head to deck 5 and check it out in the evening.
Look to the Carpet to Help You Navigate
Find yourself getting a little lost on the ship? Look down. The carpet on the Horizon changes to let you know what general area of the ship you are in. Most staterooms have blue carpet while the central areas (where the stairs and elevators are located) are a mix of purple/brown. This can help you move around the ship and not miss your turn to get to the elevator.
Need a Private Bathroom? Head to the Havana Bar
Ok, let’s be real for a moment. Sometimes when you’re sharing a small cabin, it’s nice to do your “number two” business somewhere other than the in-room bathroom. If you want some privacy during the day while you use the restroom, check out the bathrooms in the Havana Bar. Located at the very back of the ship, this area is largely empty during the day and the bathrooms are hidden at the very back of the bar. Check it out next time you need somewhere to go in peace.
Cabins Can Be Noisy
For the most part we feel like cruise cabins are well-insulated and noise from the ship can’t be heard. That wasn’t our case on the Carnival Horizon. We had an interior cabin on deck 7, located above the Circle C teen club, and the Liquid Lounge theater. Music and bass was clearly heard in the evenings (including feeling the vibration of the bass in the floor) and went on until about midnight. If you are a light sleeper, we’d suggest looking carefully at the deck plans to make sure you don’t get a room that’s right above a public area.
You Can Find the Ship’s Coin by the Dr. Suess Waterworks
Carnival ships have a coin that’s mounted on the ship that acts a memento of its construction. If you like to hunt for these coins, you’ll find the Horizon’s on deck 14, just forward of the Dr. Suess Waterworks.
Have a Pizza Delivered for $5
Pizzeria del Capitano is the 24-hour free pizza restaurant located on deck 10. You can go any time day or night and get all the pizza — or pizzas — that your heart desires. One unique feature on the Horizon is that you can also get a pizza delivered to you. The cost is $5 (even though the pizza is free), but that’s a small price to pay if you don’t feel like traversing the entire ship to get a pie.
The Elevators Work Differently Than Normal
Everyone knows how to use an elevator. Hit a button and then wait for the car. Then you get in and hit the floor you want to go to. Elevators on the Carnival Horizon work differently. Here, instead of calling an elevator using the “up” or “down” button, you push a button for a floor you want to travel to. It will then assign an elevator for you. Once that elevator comes, it will only make a few stops in between, getting you to your floor faster than in the past.
Check In Online to Avoid the Wait at Embarkation
Want to get on the ship the quickest way possible? Check in online ahead of time. Here you will set up your boarding information and your onboard expense account. Then, you can print out your boarding pass for embarkation day.
When it’s time to board, just show your pass, walk through security and get on the ship. There’s no meeting with an agent to get your room keys. They are in a sealed envelope at your cabin door. This is by far the fastest way to get on the ship.
Staff Doesn’t Really Care When You Debark
On debarkation day, it’s a mad rush to get off the ship. While the staff will call down specific decks to get off the ship at specific times, we found that just about everyone tries to leave at once, no matter if it was supposed to be their turn or not. If you have time, you might want to wait until things calm down, but if you have an early flight, then don’t worry about leaving before your deck is called. It seemed to be common on our cruise.
Interior Cabins Are Small… Very Small
Most interior cabins are around 185 square feet. Balcony cabins have about the same interior space but also include 35 square feet of balcony space, providing about 20% more room. If you plan to stay in an interior cabin, we’d suggest no more than two adults. It’s simply too cramped for much more than that. Unlike some cruise ships we had no sofa in the cabin as there simply wasn’t the space.
Traveling With a Family? Check out Family Harbor
Family Harbor is a newer feature for Carnival that’s perfect for families. Located on deck 2, this block of rooms has exclusive access to the Family Harbor Lounge. This area features a place for families to hang out, including TVs, board games, computers, video games, and even breakfast and snacks throughout the day. In other words, it’s a place where families can go spend time without having to go a long way. The lounge is just a short walk from Family Harbor staterooms.