Set your sights on the Carnival Horizon

By Diane Tierney

Christened by Queen Latifah in New York, the new 4,000-passenger Carnival Horizon ship has earned the nickname “Vista’s Sista” due to the many similarities to her sister ship the Vista. However there are plenty of new features to ensure she’s not an identical twin.

The sister act offers ship hits such as the SkyRide open-air cycling experience. Developed by the founders of Rollerblade, these bicycles are suspended from a dual track that’s 145 feet above the top deck for magnificent ocean views.

Dr. Seuss Waterworks is ideal for when you want to cool off on a hot day — or just watch those who do. The Cat in the Hat is the centrepiece since it’s a raft waterslide that’s 455 feet long and pours you out at about 19 km/h. Or try the Fun Things waterslide for a 213-foot winding ride that has special lighting effects inside.

If slides aren’t your Thing 1 or Thing 2, for the ultimate shower, stand under the giant Cat Hat Power Drencher barrel that pours out 300 gallons of water. or to just swim, visit the Beach Pool or Tides Pool for other cool-off options.

The Ropes Course is a fun challenge that has you navigating narrow planks, ropes and platforms about 140 feet above the deck to hone your balancing skills while being safely harnessed. Located in the Sports Square, there’s also mini-golf, mini-bowling, ping-pong and basketball/soccer area. Or just relax, as there’s more outdoor seating on the Horizon than the Vista.

For virtual thrills, there’s the 160-seat, multi-sensory IMAX Theatre. Plenty of movies will have you virtually flying through the air or swimming under the sea from the comfort of you cushy seat. For more movies, relax in a lounge chair at the Seaside Theatre on the top deck. This 292-square-foot jumbo screen offers “dive-in” rather than “drive-in” movies, popcorn included.

To quench your thirst there are a dozen lounges that literally raise the bar on bars. The Alchemy Bar bartenders concoct customized cocktails just for you. Tell the bartender – who is dressed in a white lab coat – the flavours you like and he’ll prescribe a drink sure to cure. The Lobby Bar in the atrium is most popular for its three-storey, circular LED screen that resembles the shape of a martini glass. It features constantly changing images and videos so there’s never a dull moment.

With a dozen restaurants you’ll never go hungry. With Horizon, Carnival launches the new Bonsai Teppanyaki, the line’s first teppanyaki restaurant. It’s one of several specialty restaurants that charge a small fee for more sophisticated dining. The chef’s juggling of utensils is as fascinating to watch as the Japanese cuisine they cook right in front of you.

Some venues have been moved around on the Horizon. The ever-popular Piano Bar is situated closer to the restaurants so diners can also enjoy the music.

Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse is joined with the Brewhouse which were separate on the Vista. Craft beers — Carnival is the only line to have onboard breweries — and barbecue meals designed by celebrity chef Guy Fieri of the Food Network is a perfect marriage.

Another difference is Horizon’s decor. Many areas feature beige, black, white and muted reds — much different than Carnival’s usual bold, bright palette. The toned-down hues are most noticeable in the 1,474-seat Meridian dining room carpet. It also features glossy wood-like dining room tables and no tablecloths. The lack of tablecloths is not only eco-friendly since it saves on laundry, but it adds to casual atmosphere for diners.

Entertainment on the Horizon is spectacular and instead of fixed row seating in front of the stage, chairs and tables are loose and can be positioned differently each night depending on the show. This allows the performers to more easily walk around the passengers bringing the show up close and personal. There are three new spectacular shows: Soulbound, Celestial Strings and Vintage Pop that receive rave reviews. Plus the Punchliner Comedy Club offers 20 shows a week that will have you howling.

Other differences include smart elevators that allow you to select your deck before getting on and the fastest elevator to that destination arrives. There are also more Havana cabins on board, popular due to their fenced, backyard-style patio with a lounger and swing chair, rather than a traditional balcony.

You can be as busy as you like on the Horizon since activities and entertainment are always on tap. But if you prefer some quiet relaxation, head to the Cloud 9 Spa for pampering. Try the new Aromatic Grotto, an herbal steam room that features sweet smells of cinnamon, orange or apple.

Or retreat to Serenity, an adults-only top deck that has cushioned loungers, shady pods, hot tubs and bar. Situated at the bow, you can say you thoroughly enjoyed doing absolutely nothing on the Horizon — except staring at the horizon.

The Carnival Horizon offers departures from New York and Miami to the Caribbean. Visit Carnival.com

Photos courtesy Carnival/Andy Newman