PHOTO: Carnival Horizon at the shipyard coin ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)
Having stepped off Carnival Cruise Line’s newest Carnival Vista just weeks ago, I'm excited to see what her sister-ship brings to the table.
It’s expected that the Carnival Horizon will mostly mimic the Vista—all of its great designs included.
But how will it improve upon a couple of notable design missteps?
The Horizon's April 2, 2018, maiden sailing draws nearer: It has already celebrated a traditional maritime coin ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy on March 10, 2017. With its exterior now entirely outfitted, a commemorative coin was welded on its mast in order to divinely protect the ship, (as ancient Romans once believed and did).
The 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon will reprise the Vista’s one-of-a-kind designs, namely the SkyRide and IMAX Theatre attractions, both of which are home runs.
The suspended bicycle-pedaling track is far more exciting than I was initially expecting. Positioned outside high above the sea, the vehicles gain momentum quickly enough that dips and turns cause higher speeds and lateral swinging, which makes for quite a fun ride. Each of the two parallel tracks also criss-cross for unique experiences worth repeating.
Also impressive on the Vista—and soon to delight on the Horizon—is the IMAX Theatre. As a major cinephile and connoisseur of the best in presented sight and sound, I’ve always been a proponent and patron of the IMAX format on land. Bringing it onboard is just brilliant, as the full experience is available at a fraction of the cost thanks to being subsidized by the cruise fare.
First-run films like “Logan” premiere onboard and are screened in better quality than even those on a Disney Cruise Line ship.
READ MORE: Customer-First Tech A Big Winner For Carnival's Vista
Unfortunately, Horizon desperately needs a redesign from its predecessor's main show lounge.
By eliminating a dedicated nightclub, the Liquid Lounge pulls double duty as a performance venue and dance club. In order to make that happen, the main floor seating is removable on a flat surface with no slant to see over the rows in front.
Even worse? The room is only two decks tall instead of three, resulting in a limited incline of rows—even in the balconies. These are the worst sight lines I’ve ever witnessed on a cruise ship.
Another rare Vista retrograde from previous Carnival designs: Cloud 9 Spa.
While the facility is very nice overall, its extra-cost thermal suite is tiny. The thalassotherapy pool is smaller than the ship’s complimentary exterior whirlpools, and one of the steam rooms already has unsightly peeling, (likely due to poorly prepared surfaces reacting to the high moisture).
As great as the Vista is overall, it is peculiar that the largest ship in the fleet actually has drastically reduced the size of both its show lounge and thalassotherapy pool.
READ MORE: Carnival Vista Arrives at PortMiami to Start Year-Round Service
If anything, there are lessons to be learned from Royal Caribbean International’s even bigger ships in order to accommodate more dedicated spaces over smaller multi-purpose venues.
Come next April, we will know whether or not the Horizon improves on the original. Before long, the ship will make it to the Caribbean as it departs from Miami year-round beginning on September 20, 2018.