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Streamers flew and cameras flashed as the godmother of the new Carnival Horizon, Grammy-award winning musical artist and actress Queen Latifah, performed the official naming ceremony for the ship on May 23 in New York City with travel agents, media and other VIPs in attendance. There couldn’t be a more enthusiastic godmother. At a pre-event press conference, she noted that cruising is “the coolest thing in the world. Everything you want is right there.”

After the official ceremony, Queen Latifah competed with Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott in a fun edition of Lip Sync Battle. The festivities also shined a light on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, supported by both celebrities, and Carnival, which has raised more a than $16 million to fight childhood cancer since partnering with St Jude in 2010. The new ship also showcases artwork by the kids served by St. Jude, unveiled by Carnival Cruise Line’s president, Christine Duffy, who presented the charity with a $100,000 check at the event.

Carnival Horizon
Queen Latifah with the Cat in the Hat aboard the Carnival Horizon.

Sister ship to the Carnival Vista, the 1,967-cabin Carnival Horizon (capacity 4,977 including upper berths), adds fun new features for families and foodies to the Vista class. These include the line’s first Dr. Seuss water park, a new teppanyaki venue and a Victoria’s Secret retail store. A new concept, the Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse/Brewhouse, created by longtime Carnival partner, celebrity chef Guy Fieri, involved creating both a craft brewery and a smokehouse right on the ship. For the first time, passengers can enjoy brewed-on board craft beers as well as smoked-at-sea Fieri favorites.

One innovation that took getting used to was the new elevator technology; to call an elevator, users enter their destination at a small kiosk and are directed to a specific elevator car, once inside, there are only open- and close-door buttons to press. Designed to move people faster, it seemed to work well.

The ship also features all the popular Vista-class innovations such as the SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre, Havana staterooms with their own Cuban-themed bar and pool, and Family Harbor suites with extra-roomy staterooms and a dedicated family lounge.

Agents said they were excited to have this new Carnival ship to sell. Self-described Carnival fan Sharon Cooper of Fairview Cruise & Travel said she was especially happy with the new Guy Fieri eatery. “It gives Carnival something new and competes with Margaritaville.” Cooper said she sells a lot of families on Carnival Vista class. “Families love the extra space in the Harbor Suites and the family lounge provides a play space so families don’t have to have their toys strewn all over the cabin. And Carnival has free kids clubs for still-in-diaper kids starting at age 2 (the industry standard is potty trained and age 3).

Carnival Horizon will benefit from the line’s large following of loyal past guests. They all want to experience the newest and best,” said Kathy Witman, owner, Cruise Vacation Center. “If the pricing is right, the short 4-day Bermuda sailings will also draw new clientele to Carnival.”

Based in New York until Sept. 22, Carnival Horizon will offer 4-day cruises to Bermuda as well as 8-day sailings to the Caribbean. Then, after a 2-day Miami-to-Nassau sailing on Sept. 22, the ship will offer 6- and 8-day Caribbean cruises out of Miami.

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