The Carnival Horizon cruise ship is like a floating city with anything and everything you can imagine. It’s the perfect vacation for those looking for wheelchair accessible activities because everything is self-contained within the ship. There’s no need for booking taxis or worrying about transportation to simply get to dinner or a show, for example. Instead, you can enjoy all the amenities from shows and the casino floor to pool-side drinks, plenty of delicious dining, and stunning ports of call.
The following 22 activities are available on the Carnival Horizon cruise ship and they are all wheelchair accessible, providing for an amazing vacation. I personally vacationed on the Carnival Horizon in February 2019 and had a blast, with highlights including the eventful shows, pool-side lounging, and a real life game of Clue. Here are some of the many things that you can do on the Carnival Horizon as a wheelchair user –
1. Enjoy a show on the Main Stage
Cruise ships are known for their evening entertainment and on the Carnival Horizon, the Main Stage is a great place to enjoy a show. Every night there’s a different show and I really enjoyed the variety, from a hilarious night with Love and Marriage to singing and dancing with amazing performances.
Another notable night was the Hasbro Game Night, where audience members participated in live board game activities on stage. This show takes classic Hasbro games like Connect 4 and Yahtzee and makes them life size for participants to play on stage. Not only was this show fun to watch, but there were tons of opportunities to win prizes and watch friends and family having a great time.
2. Relax in your spacious, wheelchair friendly state room
When planning your cruise, you might not think the state rooms will be spacious enough to accommodate your needs, but these modern ships take wheelchair accessibility into consideration when designing the rooms and I was pleasantly surprised with my state room.
When I was aboard the Carnival Horizon, I stayed in a Verandah room, which was plenty big enough to make relaxing in the room a daily activity. There was space for a Hoyer lift to roll under the bed, and both the main space and the bathroom were easily accessible. I had space to get around the room without it feeling cramped or too small. In the bathroom, there was a roll-in shower, a pull-under sink, and grab bars with enough space to maneuver.
3. Watch the waves from your balcony
Another great feature of my verandah state room was the private balcony. It was a great place to observe the ocean, and to relax or find some quiet time during the cruise.
If your room doesn’t have a balcony, there are several quieter spots throughout the ship to take a few minutes and enjoy the waves, the breeze, and the view. The decks can get busy before meal times, but there are definitely lulls in the crowds and this can be a good time to find a secluded spot to relax and watch the ocean.
4. Play Bingo (and win!)
Days at sea can be a great opportunity to join in on the fun and play a few rounds of Bingo. Most cruises have a Bingo schedule and there’s a few price packages available to get in on the fun, as this is a cost to play activity. While this activity is an additional cost, there’s also plenty of opportunities to win, which offers cash prizes. Bingo is a great low-risk activity to get out of the sun and enjoy some friendly competition. I played on my last day of the cruise and won $250, which was a great added bonus and fun way to wrap up my vacation.
5. Laugh at a comedy show
If you’ve ever wanted to go to a comedy show, but didn’t want to worry about parking, cover charges, and drink minimums, then you must see a show at The Punchliner Comedy Club. The shows at this venue are included with your cruise and are the perfect opportunity to see some live comedy.
The schedule per cruise varies, but there are both adult-only and family-friendly acts, so everyone can attend at some point during their trip. The best way to navigate the schedule is through the daily schedule delivered to your state room. It will have the line up and the show rating, so you can see some comedy that fits your taste and is guaranteed to make you laugh.
6. Swim in the pools
Going to the pool is a must on any cruise. After all, who would want to be on the ocean and not go for a swim? Most cruise ships have several pools, some of which may be adult only. Most pools on the Carnival Horizon are accessible, but you’ll need to ask for the pool lift to be prepared. Everything can be done through guest services, so just have an idea of which pool you’d like to swim in and ask for a lift at the guest services station. When I asked, it took about an hour to prepare and set up the lift, which was plenty of time to put in my request and then head back to my room to get ready for a relaxing time and a nice swim.
7. Watch a brand new movie in the IMAX Theater
The Carnival Horizon is so amazing that it even has its own IMAX Theater. This is another added cost activity, but it’s a great opportunity to see a brand new movie in a unique setting. When I was on my trip, I saw the film Glass and it was a cool experience. The theater is wheelchair accessible, but you should know that the wheelchair seating is in the very front of the theater, so be prepared to look up and see your film on a larger than life screen. The movies vary depending on when you’re on the ship, but there are always brand new releases in the classic IMAX format.
8. Soak in the beauty of a sunset or sunrise
Being on the open ocean on a huge cruise ship is a truly unique experience. To elevate this experience even further, make sure you plan to see a sunset or sunrise, depending on your schedule and preference, while you’re on board. There are plenty of places to take in this sight, from the decks throughout the ship to your own private balcony. The sunset is more popular, as it’s time is more convenient, but a sunrise may be even more beautiful if you can handle the wake up call.
9. Experience fantastic ports of call
One of the best parts of going on a cruise is getting to experience different locations through the ports of call, the stops the ship makes throughout the trip. During my cruise, I visited Grand Turk, La Romana, Curaçao, and Aruba, which were all fantastic stops.
Each port of call offers a variety of excursions, or day trips, to enjoy the destination. I used a third-party service, Accessible Caribbean Vacations, to book wheelchair accessible activities, but Carnival offers a variety of excursions directly through their site and they have several wheelchair friendly options.
10. Participate in Groove for St. Jude
A great party on board my cruise was the Groove for St. Jude event, which is an extra cost for a great cause. For $10, you can donate to St. Jude and join in the dance party on deck. At this party, you’ll receive a t-shirt and a wristband, along with access to the dancing and other party activities. This is a great way to use your getaway to help benefit a great cause, and receive a t-shirt as a souvenir. Once the event is complete, you can see how much your cruise raised for St. Jude. On mine, we raised a total of $10,000, which is amazing and will help St. Jude in its research and support children undergoing medical treatment.
11. Sing for your life in the Lip Sync Battle
The Paramount Network has a hit television series, Lip Sync Battle, and Carnival has partnered with them to create Lip Sync Battle: Carnival, an on-stage adaptation of the show. Guests on the cruise can audition for a chance to compete on the ship, and put on a series of shows for the rest of the ship throughout the cruise.
Each show allows participants to compete with costumes, lights, and even background dancers, all working to recreate the feel of the show in real time. The winner of the series is crowned the Lip Sync Battle Champion and receives a LSB belt and exclusive gift. I had a blast watching the show as an audience member, so this is really a treat no matter if you participate or watch.
12. Treat your sweet tooth in Cherry on Top
When I was aboard the ship, there was a candy shop, Cherry on Top, that rivaled almost every other candy shop I’ve visited. Shopping here was not included in the cost of my trip, so anything I purchased was extra, but I had a great time shopping for any and every candy I could imagine.
Visiting the candy shop and making a purchase is a great way to splurge and satisfy your sweet tooth. This could be a great added bonus to any vacation or a good way to spend a few hours in the afternoon lull, or make the best of a rainy day at sea.
13. Dine at one (or all) of the specialty restaurants
Dining on a cruise ship is broken up into two categories: the free options and the extra expense options. Most cruises offer inclusive dining in a main dining room, as well as on specific decks, which provides ample opportunity to sample all sorts of cuisine and satisfy any craving. In addition to these free options, there are several speciality restaurants aboard the Carnival Horizon that are an extra expense, but can really elevate your overall experience.
I dined at the following restaurants during my trip, with my favorites being Bonsai Teppanyaki and Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse. Each restaurant was amazing and I would recommend any of them to fellow travelers. The food was delicious and it was a great experience all around.
Bonsai Teppanyaki is a meal and a show, with your Japanese entrees cooked right in front of you on a large grill. The menus offer lunch and dinner with a wide selection of appetizers and entrees. Guests are seated family style and a reservation is recommended as tables fill up fast for this interactive dining experience.
Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse is a cruise casual and elegant steakhouse with all the classic steakhouse offerings, from appetizers to chops and desserts. This is an upscale destination dining experience that also requires a reservation. You can book a reservation online after completing your cruise registration.
Jiji Asian Kitchen has a fully Asian inspired menu with amazing theming. The fabrics, colors, and restaurant design all help to deliver a unique dining experience. The full-service menu has a variety of offerings, from exotic to familiar, that can expand your palate or offer comfort. Reservations aren’t required, but are recommended so you can dine at your preferred time.
Seafood Shack offers a range of seafood for your enjoyment while sailing the ocean. This is a great spot for lunch or dinner to enjoy a seafood roll with a great view of the sea. The restaurant was designed to feel like a New England seaside port and offers Atlantic menu items like the lobster roll. Reservations are not required, as this is a more casual dining option, much like lunch at the seaside after a day at the beach.
Cucina del Capitano is the place to go for an iconic and traditional Italian meal. Everything is served family style for a classic Italian eating experience. This is a good place to go for dinner when you’re looking for a comfortable, home-like dining experience with enough food for the whole family.
14. Soar over the ocean on SkyRide
On the Carnival Horizon, there’s a great new ride known as SkyRide. It is a bit like riding a bike, but in the air and over the ocean. The ride consists of a suspended track with pedal-powered go-mobiles that allow you to work your way around and take in the sights from high up in the sky. Riders can race each other, use their ride as a workout, or simply enjoy the view and the memorable experience.
This ride is wheelchair user friendly, depending on your level of accessibility. There is a set of stairs in order to reach the ride, but there is a stair lift to help wheelchair users reach the top. The ride does require wheelchair users to transfer to the ride seat, and be able to sit unassisted, as well as pedal with your legs just as you would on a bicycle.
15. Play a game of real life Clue
Any fan of murder mysteries or the boardgame Clue will have a blast participating in the life-size version aboard the Carnival Horizon. Clue: The Murder Mystery is free to play and each member receives a free case file, which turns the ship into your game board. The game runs through the duration of your cruise with special scheduled events to add to the fun. Each event provides a new clue for you to use with your case file to try and solve the case. There’s a unique prize for those that solve the case and I had a blast playing along during my trip.
16. Practice your Pac-Man skills at the video arcade
Whether you’re an active gamer looking for some screen time or an arcade fan looking for some old-school gaming fun, check out the arcade. The arcade is open at all times and does require an added cost, but it’s a great place to get some tokens and have fun with friends or family. Being available 24 hours a day means this is a good place to get out of the sun and enjoy some entertainment during off hours, or while everyone else is busy with the day’s activities.
17. Try to win some money at the casino
Another big draw to cruises is the casino. This is an adult-only activity with everything from table games and slots to prize games, scratch-offs, tournaments, and Bingo. The Carnival Horizon offers a complete casino experience down to the free drinks, flashing lights, and big jackpots. I personally didn’t have much luck when I tried my hand at a few games, but it was still a good time and a good way to find some fun out of the sun. The casino is an additional cost on the cruise, but if you’re a fan of slots or table games, it offers hours of fun.
18. See how much ice cream you can eat during your trip
A highlight of the Carnival Horizon, as well as most Carnival cruises, is the free ice cream. At Swirls, there is free ice cream 24 hours a day, which means you can have your favorite flavors throughout the duration of your trip. This is a great way to cool off and enjoy every afternoon, as well as take a break between events or treat the family after dinner. I personally like to keep track of how many times I visit Swirls and sample all the classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
19. Admire the many towel animals
After a busy, event filled day on and off board the ship, it was always a treat to arrive back in my room and see which towel animal was placed on my bed. Every day, the rooms are tidied and made up, with the staff leaving a creative towel animal on the bed. This is a great way to continue the fun of the cruise and is a unique added touch to the overall cruise experience. It can be fun guessing which animal the towels resemble each night and can be a fun way to document your trip with a new picture each night.
20. Grab a drink (or four) by the pool
Cruises are known for their selection of beverages, both alcoholic and mocktails. It’s very easy to find a place to grab a drink and pool-side is one of the most common locations. On the Carnival Horizon, there are three main places to find the best selection of drinks: Red Frog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and Alchemy Bar. My favorite drink of the trip was the Miami Vice, a half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri beverage, which made lounging by the pool that much more relaxing.
Red Frog Rum Bar is a poolside bar that delivers a Caribbean atmosphere and themed drinks. The beverages here are rum based and can be ordered by the glass or the pitcher. There’s also signature draft beer, ThirstyFrog Red.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar is the place to go for ice cold slushy drinks and beverages. The menu offers a variety of frozen drinks, which can be ordered by the glass or the pitcher, as well as a beer cocktail, all inspired by Mexico.
Alchemy Bar is not poolside, but offers a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy” with a unique drink menu. There is a larger menu offered here, as well as the ability to be surprised and order a “prescribed” custom beverage, with or without alcohol.
21. Use the public restroom
As a wheelchair user, I know that not all public restrooms are created equal or are wheelchair friendly. The public restrooms, the restrooms throughout the ship beyond my stateroom, were very accommodating. There are wheelchair accessible companion care restrooms located throughout the ship, which makes it that much easier to stop in for a break without having to leave all the fun on the deck. Many activities were a distance away from my stateroom and it was great to be able to locate a restroom quickly that could accommodate my needs.
22. Free food. Need I say more?!
There are some great specialty dining experiences on the ship, but there are also plenty of free opportunities to enjoy food from around the world. There is a standard dining package that comes with each guest’s stay and this means that you can eat for free in a few places throughout the ship. This makes it easy to find all your meals, snacks, and desserts without having to carry cash or cards during your whole stay.
Two of my favorite lunch options were Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina. I loved lunch at BlueIguana and chose a taco salad several times, as it was delicious. For dinner, the standard is the dining room, which has a variety of options each night, as well as specialty items that vary depending on the day and the cruise.
As you can see, the Carnival Horizon offers a range of wheelchair accessible activities and amenities, all of which make it easier to focus on the fun and relaxation of your cruise and less about if there are appropriate accommodations. I enjoyed everything that the cruise had to offer, from relaxing in my room to taking a swim in the pool and attending shows for a well rounded vacation.
The accessibility on the Carnival Horizon was also great, with large state rooms complete with an accessible balcony to the public restrooms, accommodations at every restaurant and show, and activities that provided fun for the whole family. I would highly recommend a cruise on the Carnival Horizon for your next vacation, no matter what your abilities are.
*Thank you to Carnival Cruise Line for working with me on this adventure! While my cruise was complimentary, all opinions are authentic and my own.