Are you researching a Southern Caribbean Cruise on Carnival? Did you just book a Southern Caribbean cruise on Carnival? Cruising on Carnival Horizon? Here are all the details!
We sailed out of Miami on Carnival Horizon on Jan 21, 2023
Southern Caribbean Cruise Day 1 : Miami
Check-in was very quick and we were on the ship within 30 minutes of parking. The pool and lido deck were packed, so we grabbed some tacos and margaritas for lunch and then headed to the Havana Bar for a retreat, and a retreat it was.
The Havana Bar has been one of our favorite bars on the Vista and higher class ships in Carnival’s fleet. There are some activities in the Havana Bar, but when there isn’t anything scheduled, you can escape there for a nice Cuban coffee, cocktail or just a place to relax in some peace and quiet. I was a little disappointed, as my favorite drink recipe was changed since the last time I cruised on a ship with a Havana bar onboard. The Cuban Iced Tea no longer has Raspberry Rum, but instead has Lemon Rum. It was ok, but it sadly didn’t remain at the top of my drink list for Carnival any longer.
The Carnival Horizon, a Vista Class Ship, built in 2018 has many unique amenities on board. There are two high in the sky bikes called the Carnival SkyRide, SportSquare, mini-golf and Dr Seuss WaterWorks. There is an IMAX theater and immersive 3-D theater as well. Of course Carnival is known for its Serenity Adult Only Retreat and the Cloud 9 Spa and Horizon has these on board as well! There is even Carnival’s First Guy’s Pig and Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse; yes I said it! A brewery on the ship!
Getting around via the elevator on the Horizon is a little different than using other elevators. There is a panel outside the elevator that you select your floor and number of passengers. The elevator tells you which elevator to go to. Below you can see an example of the panel and the instructions near the elevators.
Southern Caribbean Cruise Days 2-3: At Sea
We spent Day 2 and 3 exploring the ship, playing Bingo, going to comedy shows and lazing around in the sun with lots of cocktails. There was a Victorias Secret and Luxury Handbags boutique, with brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, on board. There was also the typical jewelry, watch, candy, liquor and novelties shops on board as well.
Day 2 was the first elegant night for dinner. For Carnival, the elegant dress code is a lot more relaxed than other cruise lines we have cruised on. On elegant nights, most women are in simple pants suits or dresses and men in khakis and polo shirts. There were a few on the extreme end in tuxedos and gowns, but for the most part, it is more church or business attire.
Southern Caribbean Cruise Day 4: Aruba
For our stop in Aruba, we had about 12 hours to visit the island, so we booked two excursions. When we researched things to do in Aruba, we booked the Best of Aruba and Eagle Beach through Carnival and a sunset catamaran cruise through Viator with Octopus Aruba.
Best of Aruba and Eagle Beach
We booked this excursion through Carnival. We rode on a motor coach to see the Baby Natural Bridge, Casibari Rock Formations, and the California Lighthouse. At each of these three stops there was a restroom (have to pay $1 US dollar to use) and drinks and snacks for purchase. The last stop was at Eagle Beach.
Baby Natural Bridge: The Baby Bridge was created by pounding waves and strong winds that slowly chiseled away the limestone cliffs along Aruba’s north coast. Sadly the original natural bridge collapsed in 2005 due to erosion and only the Baby Natural Bridge still stands. We stopped here for 20 minutes to explore and photograph the area.
Casibari Rock Formations: The rock formations are composed of quartz diorite formed million years ago. Evidence of prehistoric rock drawings is still visible at the formation. We walked through the garden and climbed to the top of the rocks for a view with the ship in the background. We stopped here for 20 minutes to explore and photograph the area.
California Lighthouse: We stopped for 20 minutes at this iconic lighthouse, spanning from the north western most tip to downtown and see the cruise ships in the distance.
Eagle Beach: The last stop was at Eagle Beach for an hour and a half of leisure time to go for a walk or swim. We could have rented beach chairs from a local beach vendor while we sunbathed, but it was super windy and the sand was literally beating us up; we found some others from our tour and told them we were leaving and would not be heading back on the motor coach. The motor coach did take the rest of the group back to the cruise port.
If we had the option to do it again, we would not do this tour again. The stops were crowded and just ok to see. Honestly, if this was the best of Aruba, I wouldn’t think very highly of the island. Whenever we went back to where we had visited in the past, our great memories of Aruba re-emerged and we were quickly reminded of the beauty of Aruba.
Catamaran Happy Hour Sunset Cruise
Our sunset sail started at 4:30 pm in the Palm Beach area. The calm waters in the Palm Beach area made this a comfortable trip during sunset time. As we boarded the boat, we were happily greeted by some of the crew with an Aruba specialty drink, the Aruba Ariba. The crew of the boat were amazing. The drinks kept flowing and you really felt like you were a special friend to them. We went along the coast down to Eagle Beach and then past Palm Beach and on towards the California Lighthouse and back to Palm Beach. We enjoyed the beautiful waters, the sunset and delicious appetizers and drinks that was served during the entire trip.
We would highly recommend using Octopus Tours for your Aruba excursions, you won’t find a better company on the island!
After our catamaran cruise, we took a taxi back to the port for $10 per person.
Southern Caribbean Cruise Day 5: Bonaire
We arrived to Bonaire and got off the ship. While in Bonaire, we headed in through the port and stopped for some coffee at Umbrella, a cafe/bar in the port area; they do have WiFi there if you purchase something. We had an excursion booked as well!
Then we headed to meet up with our tour guide for our excursion.
Off-Road Dirty Buggy & Cave Exploration
We booked this excursion through Carnival. The buggy excursion and the ATV excursion met up together and road the same bus. We rode aboard a converted school bus to the outpost for the Buggies and ATVs; it was about a 15-20 minute ride from the port.
The Off-Road Dirty Buggy & Cave Exploration was an exciting off-road experience. My husband got behind the wheel of our side-by-side off road vehicle with me in the passenger seat. We explored Bonaire’s wild side on our exciting off-road adventure along the island’s East Coast. Along the tour, we visited the following:
Washikemba Reservoir: Rugged terrain of Washikemba Reservoir, we drove through the reservoir, spotted wild donkeys, goats, flamingos and iguanas, along some of the most picturesque coastal roads on the island.
Caves & Karst Nature Reserve: Our adventure continued to one of Bonaire’s many caves, which are home to the Bonairean bat species. Our tour guide led us into the cave, between the stalactites and stalagmites and explain various rock paintings the Arawak Tribe left behind.
Spelonk Lighthouse: We had a stop at the Spelonk Lighthouse and abandoned lighthouse keeper’s house, the easternmost point of Bonaire, offering spectacular, panoramic views of the ocean and unspoiled East Coast. The light house was first built in 1910, but has been renovated since then. The lighthouse keeper’s house is a historical monument.
East Coast: Drive along the “wild” East Coast between limestone rocks and giant cacti while ocean waves crash and spray the coastline.
Once our buggy adventure was over, they bussed us back to the port. From the port, we walked about 7 minutes into the town to do some souvenir shopping. There was some construction going on in town and not too much to see, so we headed back to the ship.
After Bonaire excursions, we got ready for our second elegant dinner. This 8-day cruise had 2 elegant dinners.
Southern Caribbean Cruise Day 6: La Romana
Altos de Chavon & The Cave of Wonders
We booked this excursion though Carnival.
Altos de Chavón
Altos de Chavón, is the replica of a 16th century Mediterranean village, built by Charles Bluhdorn as a gift to his daughter. The village is a place of inspiration, learning and artistic expression. Its diverse educational and artistic activities, in a breathtaking natural and architectural setting give Altos de Chavon its unique ability to stimulate creativity and cultural interchange in its school of design.
It is located on the breathtaking Chavón River.
A walk down the cobblestone paths of Altos de Chavón reveals architectural remains of another era at every turn. The village has an amphitheater for open-air concerts and a small church, St. Stanislaus, which was consecrated by Pope John Paul II and contains the ashes of Poland’s patron saint. Artists such as Frank Sinatra, Shakira, Sting and Elton John have performed in the renowned amphitheater and Michael Jackson was married in the church there.
There are also several shops, an art gallery, handicraft stores, and exclusive restaurants. Some of the sites are linked to the famous resort, Casa de Campo. Casa de Campo is on my dream list to vacation to!
Cuevas de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders)
Cuevas de las Maravillas (Caves of Wonders). The cave’s 240-meter footpath took us on a majestic journey 25 feet underground, where stalagmites and stalactites appear like the notes of an orchestra. This cave boasts a collection of approximately 500 paintings by the inhabitants that lived on the island at the time of the arrival of Columbus. You also get to see the island’s rock iguanas in their iguana sanctuary and horses throughout the property there.
Black mangroves grow in fresh water and red mangroves grow in salt water around Dominican Republic; the roots of the mangroves were used to create red and black “paint” that was used by the Tainos to create the pictographs inside the cave.
After arriving back on the ship, we played Deal or No Deal and I won $30 free casino play!
Southern Caribbean Cruise Day 7: Amber Cove
Zipline & 27 Waterfalls Combo
For the port Amber Cove in Puerto Plata Dominican Republic we chose an adrenaline packed excursion. This proved to be the best excursion of the entire week! If we go back, we would go again for sure!
We booked this excursion through Carnival.
We met our tour guide and loaded up on a giant 6×6 Mega Tiger Truck to discover the waterfalls of Damajagua in Puerto Plata Dominican Republic.
You can see the curves and carvings that have been etched into 27 limestone waterfalls by Mother Nature as you get down into the deep canyons. We were able to experience 7 of these majestic waterfalls first-hand as we slid into the refreshing natural lagoon. This was such a picturesque site to see and the cool water of the lagoon was so refreshing after our hike in.
The hike was moderate and if you are on a carnival excursion, you can only enjoy the slides; you are not allowed to jump from any platforms. If you go there on your own or though a non-carnival tour, you can jump off the platforms.
The morning of our excursion it had been raining and we had to navigate down some stairs to get to the waterfalls. I was carefully descending with hands on both rails. I slipped and went down a few steps on my hind end. When I caught my self on the rail, I bruised up my left arm pretty bad, but I hopped up and kept going. Our tour guide rushed to my side to make sure everything was ok. Take my word for it, the stairs can be very slippery if wet; you can slip even if you’re holding on to the rails, so BE CAREFUL! If you have non-slip shoes, I would recommend wearing them!
Even after my slip and fall, this was still so much fun and I would do it again anyway!
After the hike and adventures in the lagoon and waterfalls, we hopped back on the mega truck and headed to go Ziplining. We were given training at the training center with highly skilled zip lining guides. Platforms of cable spanned out over the Mahogany trees, rich farmland, along a river bed and picturesque mountain views. Tour guides took us through every step of the way of each feature, ensuring our safety at all times. We zipped down 6 zip lines through the picturesque backdrops of their beautiful countryside!
After Ziplining we boarded the truck to head back to the starting point to enjoy an authentic Dominican lunch of chicken, beef stew, rice and beans, salad, fruit, and tostones while over-looking their beautiful mountain views. There is a small gift shop and coffee available after your meal.
Mega Adventures, DR handled everything throughout the day to perfection. They think of everything even down to water for your hike and drinks after the hike and adventures through the waterfalls. They also had a photographer with us the entire day to capture photos and videos of our day!
This is a must for those that seek adrenaline.
Southern Caribbean Cruise Day 8: At Sea
We spent the day lounging on Deck 5 on a circular lounger and frequently visiting the Havana Bar down the hall for cocktails. I won $30 free play in the casino and had to start playing. I am not much of a gambler so I headed towards the penny slots! I got up to $45 in winnings and the we headed to get lunch. After lunch I played some more and still was up.
We showered for dinner and then headed back to the casino. My husband had been watching me play for hours, so he decided to play $20 and join in on the fun. He was up to $150 on the penny slots that we were playing. Once I lost all mine and he was down right below $100 we cashed out and headed to the Alchemy Bar.
The Alchemy Bar is a must try on the ship. My favorite was a Cucumber Sunrise with Jalepeno infused vodka! It was a smash hit! Then when our table was ready we headed to dinner.
Sunday morning we woke up, had breakfast, and headed off the ship. What a great trip!