The early bird doesn’t just get the worm… he also gets his room service delivery on time. Think of ordering breakfast from room service like going to the doctor’s office. (It sounds weird, but go with me here.) If you’re the first appointment of the day, the doctor will probably see you pretty close to on time. But if his office opens at 8 a.m. and your appointment is at 10 a.m., his schedule has probably run into a few hiccups. You’re going to wind up sitting in the waiting room an extra half hour, and then in the actual exam room a while, too. Same here. The folks who order their room service for bright and early are far more likely to get what they ordered when they want it than are people who want their eggs delivered at 8:30 a.m. By then, a whole lot of little things can have set things back, lessening the odds of your meal arriving on time. I tend to order mine for somewhere between 5:30 and 7 a.m., and it’s almost always on time… if not a few minutes early. Also, don’t forget to fill out your room service order form and leave it on your door the night before. Sure, you can call and order in the morning, but… well, you’ve just become one of those hiccups we were talking about earlier, so count on it taking longer than you’d probably like.
Generally speaking shows onboard cruise ships tend to be like Applebee’s restaurants: You’ll get what you came for, but it isn’t going to blow your socks off. That’s why I was genuinely surprised by the newest show offered by the Playlist Productions crew, Celestial Strings. This one is loud and bold and at times, a little weird. There’s no “story” that I could follow, but the use of music and multimedia effects was sort of stunning. It’s definitely not for everyone (I saw more than a few people — especially older folks — walking out), but it’s also unlike anything I’ve seen on a cruise ship before.
The nightclub on board the Carnival Horizon is in the Limelight Lounge, and the bar is… not what you’d expect to find in a nightclub. It’s basically a table they set up with a few liquors, mixers and beers. My suggestion? Stop at one of the other nearby bars (such as the Casino Bar or the Sports Bar) before going to the club. You’ll be glad you did.
The Havana Retreat really is something special, and if you sail this ship without spending a little time there, you’ll regret it. Yes, the wake-facing area — with a pool, two hot tubs, a bar and lots of comfy loungers — is only open to Havana guests during the daytime. And yes, they will keep you from entering during that time if you can’t prove you “belong.” But after 7 p.m. it’s open to everyone on board. And truth be told, the evening might be my favorite time to enjoy this adults-only area. Have a late dinner? This is a great place to grab a cocktail and take in the view before your meal. If the ship is sailing in the right direction, it’s also an amazing spot to get perfect sunset pics.
I love that despite having been cruising for years, I still learn something new on almost every trip. For example, on my most recent sailing on the Carnival Horizon, I found out that with the CHEERS! package, you can get bottled water from the wait staff if you don’t want to drink the (perfectly fine) desalinized water otherwise offered. (This is a good time to point out that if you’re even thinking about getting the CHEERS! package, look to see what’s covered… you might be surprised. It’s really a heck of a value.)
If you’re a beer drinker and want to save a little bit of money, you can buy a 64-ounce growler (what you non-beer drinkers would call a “jug”) from the Pig & Anchor Brewhouse. Think of these as the ultimate “To Go Cup,” perfect for hanging out on your balcony or as a take-along to the Dive-In Movies. While prices can and do change, a Growler ran $32 during my last sailing.
The gym onboard Carnival Horizon seems a bit small for a ship that carries over 4,000 guests, so if you want to get in a good workout, avoid going during peak times. Your best bets when it comes to jumping on the machine you want without having to wait is to hit the gym early in the morning or late in the day. Another option? Avoid the gym entirely and instead head up to deck 12, where seven laps equal a mile, and get in a jog or walk.
Some folks love throwing themselves into the madness of the sail away parties held around the pool. But if you’re looking for something a little quieter, I’m going to share a secret with you: If you head to the very front of decks 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11, you’ll find areas that are pretty much always empty. Each has areas at the very front of the ship which makes them the perfect place for a peaceful sail away… not to mention incredible pictures.
At nighttime, dinner at Cucina will cost $15 per person… and it is worth every penny. But if you have a lunchtime craving for some pasta, head to Cucina for what’s known as the Captain’s Pasta Bar. The menu is more limited than you’ll find at dinner time, and it’s served as individual meals as opposed to family style, but the food is fantastic. Be warned: People start lining up well before Cucina opens, so it’s better to — after confirming the lunch hours — head here for a late lunch to avoid the crowds. Review: Lunch at Cucina del Capitano
In most of the ports, the gangway will be located on Deck 0 (just above the water line). If you’re using the midship gangway then walk up to deck one and walk to the part of the ship you want to go. This way you won’t experience the elevator congestion. If they are operating two gangways, then walk towards the part of the ship that doesn’t have a gangway (or burn off a few calories by taking the stairs).