Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: September/October

Black Meetings and Tourism had the pleasure of attending the newest Carnival ship naming ceremony, the Carnival Horizon. It was a night of fun, celebrities, and fireworks led by Queen Latifah, who officially named the Carnival Horizon ship, and also received a name for herself, Godmother of the ship.

After the naming ceremony, Queen squared off in "Lip Sync battle: Horizon" with Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles where she performed a fun rendition of "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls and he countered with passionate interpretation of "Here I Go Again" complete with Carnival Horizon's Playlist Productions backup dancers.

Before I arrived, the president of Carnival, Christine Duffy, presented St. Jude's Research Hospital with a $100,000 check that Carnival raised on behalf of St. Jude's. Attendees could also see art in the atrium done by St Jude's patients. It was nice to see that Carnival gives back to a charity that we can all support.

After the naming ceremony, I had dinner in the Meridian dining room. I'm an "all-inclusive" resort/cruise ship food snob because I find it to be lots of dressed up instant mashed potatoes and off brand chocolate chip cookies that likely wouldn't shatter even if dropped from the top floor of the empire state building. I imagine they serve the same food from some of these resorts on the moon. That said, this food was really good! As in I would eat at this restaurant on purpose if I wasn't being paid to be there. I ordered almost everything and my favorites were the mushroom bisque, Caesar salad, and broiled lobster tail with jumbo shrimp and wild mushroom risotto. Also, it felt like they had one server per diner, which was impressive because the dining room was huge and nearly full. My server, Koko, was delightful and he was extremely attentive. I later learned that I was sitting next to the DJ who would spin for the after party. I had a feeling he was "somebody."

After dinner, I headed over to the Punchliner comedy show and then wandered around to check out the other attractions. The Skyride was pretty cool which looked like a go-kart meets an adult tricycle that you pedal above the ship across a crane. I personally couldn't do that because even though it looked fun, I'm a scaredy cat. Speaking of cats, there was a Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss inspired waterpark on the top deck. There's an IMAX theater and several other restaurants throughout the ship like Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse (Guy Fieri was there for the ceremony too!) and Guy's Burger Joint. I figured after my "exercise" walking around the ship, I deserved some of Guy's seasoned fries. They reminded me of 5 Guys Fries…5 stars from me!

It was a perfect night with perfect weather, so I found the perfect lawn chair (deck bed?) and kicked my feet up as I waited for the after party to start. The moment I sat down, someone brought me a rum punch, which was a nice touch. Then, the DJ got the party started and everyone poured on to the deck, turned dance floor, but the real star was Mike Pack, the Horizon Cruise director. He could make a lot of money as a hype man…his energy was high octane and everyone loved it. Some of the women took off their shoes, so you know the vibes were flowing. The grand finale was the fireworks show to top off a fun night debuting the amazing new Carnival Ship.

I'd definitely recommend the Carnival Horizon for anyone planning a small to medium sized convention or even a large family reunion. There are plenty of activities for everyone (including children), several dining options (fancier and casual), with the capacity for 3,954 passengers and a maximum capacity of 4,683 guests. With 25 lounges and bars, 10 restaurants/food bars, and 16 elevators, there is something easily accessible for everyone.