Room: 7406 Grand Suite
Sail Dates: December 29- January 6
Ocean Suite Booking
Last Minute Upgrade to Grand Suite: $600
Day 1:Leave Miami
Day 2: Day at Sea
Day 3: Grand Turk
Day 4: La Romana
Day 5: Curacao
Day 6: Aruba
Day 7: Day at Sea
Day 8: Day at Sea
Day 9: Arrive back in Miami
We had initially booked an Ocean Suite almost a year before our sail date because all of the grand suites were taken. We even decided to book another cruise for December 2019 in order to guarantee a Grand Suite because we love the space and our kids usually like to nap after a busy day at a port stop so we enjoy having a larger room since we tend to be in it more than the average guest. Fortunately for us, two days before our trip we received a phone call from Carnival stating that someone had canceled their Grand Suite and that we could upgrade our room for a significantly discounted price of $600.
Before You Leave:
There are a few important steps to take before you leave on your cruise. There are documents available online that need to be printed and attached to your luggage to help the stewards deliver your bags to the room. Additionally, if you have young children that you are planning on sending the kids to Camp Ocean, which is Carnival’s kids club you will need to fill out the appropriate paperwork for each child.
Carnival Hub App:
This might be my new favorite thing about cruising on Carnival. They have an app that you can download and access at all times, even if you don’t pay for an internet package. This app will allow you to see all of the activities that are going on throughout the ship at any given time. Additionally, it will help you keep yourself on “ship time” which is what time zone the boat uses for all excursions and activities. It can be confusing because if you are on a long cruise you may change time zones more than once and it’s important to stay on ship time so you don’t miss your excursion departure time (or dinner reservation). The app is also a great tool for people, like us, who choose Anytime Dining because you can request a table from your room and you’ll receive an estimate as to how long the table will take to be ready. You can stay in your room or go around the ship to listen to live music or get a drink while you wait. The only requirement is that when your app alerts you that your table is ready you need to get to the restaurant within ~5 minutes or else your table will be given away. We never had any trouble making our table time and sometimes our reservation was only a 10-15 minute wait. The perfect amount of time to grab a pre-dinner glass of wine while we waited for our table.
One great benefit of sailing on Carnival is that all guests have access to free room service from a limited menu and access to a more extensive menu for a small fee. There was talk of adding a fee to room service orders but due to the backlash from Carnival guests, that is no longer in the works
Important Things to Note:
There is only shampoo, body wash, and soap in the bathrooms- no conditioner or lotion. Also, there are typically two formal nights on a weeklong cruise so make sure to pack at least two dressy outfits (if you’re into that sort of thing). If you are planning on eating at the sit-down restaurants each evening you can actually bring nice clothes for every night of the cruise. Just a warning though- there are no irons in the rooms so you will need to send clothes out for pressing ($) if they’re wrinkled or you can attempt to do some spot pressing with a hair flatiron if you have one. We enjoy the formal night because the food at the main dining rooms tends to be elevated to complimentary lobster tails, prime rib, etc. and it’s a fun excuse for all of us to get dressed up and take family photos.
If you’re expecting a special lounge or fancy treatment as a result of paying extra money and booking a suite, you are mistaken. We had previously cruised on Royal Caribbean and they definitely make you feel pampered in a suite. Carnival takes a different approach. They provide perks such as large bottles of water if you have previously sailed with Carnival before, however it does not matter what size or category of room you are staying in. I even asked if they had hair conditioner on the boat for suite guests and our room steward said that it was not included. The only suite perks that we experienced were being allowed to board the boat at an early time, some cookies that were delivered on the second day of our cruise and one complimentary bag of laundry.
Should I Stop at all of the Photo Ops?
This is a personal choice but I am a huge fan of the photographers on the boat and at the port stops. Although some of the backgrounds and poses that they ask you to stand in are a little cheesy, I love having the opportunity to have all four of us in a photo. On past cruises we had the opportunity to pay a flat fee for all of our photos from that cruise that were put on a memory drive the last night onboard. Carnival does things a little differently. When we asked about the all inclusive package they said that the option to do that was emailed out approximately 6 months before departure and that if we did not purchase it at that time then we would have to purchase photos individually. I was bummed to hear this but I know for our next year to buy the package well in advance. We still posed for pictures at most of the port stops and at the end of the cruise we narrowed our selection of pictures to 23. That may seem like a lot but let me add that we never take whole family professional photos at home. One of the photographers told us that we could purchase a package where we would get all 23 on a USB drive and on the Carnival App as well two large canvasses and a metal photo (that we didn’t really need) for roughly the same price as just the digital photos. I’m not sure where I’ll hang 11x18 canvass pictures of our faces in our house but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The total cost for everything was less than $400.
The food is great! You don’t even have to pay extra for the specialty dining options to eat your fill. Because the Carnival Horizon is a new boat they have changed around the stereotypical cruise dining options, especially in regard to daytime dining. In past cruises it seemed like the only option for breakfast or lunch was the buffet or a sit down restaurant that was only open for a few hours at a time. On the Horizon there is a small buffet section as well as a burrito stand, a delicious hamburger booth, a 24/7 pizza shack, and a sandwich section that are all included in the price you paid for your reservation. However, if you do choose to pay a little more the food is only a small upgraded fee and is simple fantastic. Upgraded dining options include a steakhouse, sushi, a seafood shack, and a brewery and the menu prices all appeared to be reasonable. For example, the steakhouse is only an additional $38 per person and one guest that we talked to said it was the best steak he had ever had. We chose to pay extra one evening for the Pig & Anchor brewery and the nachos were simply fantastic.
They call it “The Fun Ship” for a reason. There’s endless entertainment for kids and adults ranging from trivia, gambling, live shows, comedians, a tableside magician, poolside games, an IMAX theater, classes, etc. If you look at the schedule at any given time there is plenty to do to fill your time on the boat. I can happily report that on both Carnival cruises I’ve been on I was never bored.
We will happily sail on the Carnival Horizon sometime in the future. It was a wonderful experience and worth every penny.