by Jeff Coudriet
September 5, 1999
This was a very nice cruise and we would take it again, although I guess only the Zenith will be going to Bermuda in 2000. The Horizon is a ship which is being rehabbed and brought up to date by Celebrity marking their continuing commitment to the ship. The sailing was smooth (wedged in between Dennis and Floyd as we were) and the weather very sunny in Bermuda, although humid. The crowd aboard was the peppiest we've ever encountered and Bermuda itself was very nice.For you lazy readers out there, here s my quickie guide to this cruise:
Horizon - Food Greatest Hits
You can find that in spades on Celebrity, never fear, but for those who want a little more adventure too:
Chilled Gin and Tomato Consomme with Straw Mushrooms
As you can see--I am a big fan of the cold soups which Celebrity does wonderfully. The salads were very good I thought but hey, a salad is a salad no matter which way you slice it so I haven't made specific reference to it other than I will say some of the vinaigrettes were very interesting and quite tasty. I left off most of the main courses since I tend to be a big meat eater--found everything very well cooked and presented beautifully on that front. The presentation of the dishes was uniformly excellent--very pretty to look at as well as being tasty. The seafood lovers at the table were quite happy as well. We egged people on to try new things too--much to their enjoyment.
Day One - Sunday
We find a nice Celebrity representative and ask her where to go since we are Captain's Club members and she whisks us past the inevitable long line right to the front where the CC members check in. She checked our docs quickly and handed us off to another nice lady who checked us in. Less than 10 minutes all told. With several busses arriving at once we were quite glad to beat the line. Worth the $35 investment for that alone.
A cabin steward in white gloves takes us to our cabin, a Category 4 on the Galaxy deck. I always like to be a little higher on the ship so it's only 1 or 2 decks up or 1 or 2 down to get anywhere you want to go, so there was a bit of stair walking in our future. The cabin was nice--but I have to say it was sad not having a veranda. You really do get hooked on having one. The 2 beds hadn't been pushed together so I did that hoping our cabin steward would get the hint and fix it up, which he did while we were at dinner. Waiting for us was a bottle of white zinfandel from our travel agent. Thanks Allen! That was nice. The cabin was the same size as the one we had on the Galaxy but laid out with the desk and chairs and cocktail table near the hall and the bed pushed against the far wall under the decent sized window. A harsh reminder that we didn't have a veranda! There is not much to this room decor wise. One modern art print on the wall, cute carpeting, cute bedspread, but that's it. It's a very white room. The nice "wood" look of the Galaxy cabin (and the Rotterdam for that matter) was missing. So sort of drab looking I would say. We wouldn't be hanging out in this room so much as we have in others I suppose. We poked around the cabin a bit more and freshened up and headed upstairs to the Coral Seas Cafe for a buffet lunch.
Being a smaller ship, there are just 2 buffet lines and there was a long line on either side, but we managed. I had some nice roast beef and scalloped potatoes. Had 2 wonderful desserts (there's no time like the present for starting in on that) one of which was a slice of chocolate something or other. Very rich, like a cheese cake but it was all chocolate and little cheese. Met a nice couple who had just arrived in NY after sailing in on the Royal Princess that morning. Off one ship and onto another! Sounds like a good idea to me! They commented that they liked the Celebrity food much better than Princess. We haven't sailed on Princess but I think we're going to have to sample for ourselves! After lunch we explored the ship, of course. Aft of the Coral Seas cafe was a grill area with outdoor tables that looked very nice. As it was rather misty/rainy not many people were out there but it looks like a space we might go back to. We checked out the pool area and that looked fine and I guess cabins were in front of the pool area on that deck.
We explored the rest of the ship and the Horizon seems like a ship in transition. I was aware that they had been "updating" the ship in several ways to make it more like the Century-class ships, at least in terms of amenities. There is a new Michael's Club (cigar bar) which is absolutely beautiful. Very woody/gentlemen's club look. Near it are a new library and card room with the same emphasis on wood. Very nice. Also new are the Cova Cafe (which has very excellent espresso and capuccino for a price) and the Martini Bar, which we proudly tried out today. After the lifeboat drill we were to meet some folks from AOL and the internet in the Rendezvous Bar at 5:30 pm. It was very nice meeting them! Robert found us and after everyone left (everyone who we met had early seating for dinner) we sat down and had a nice martini! The two women working there were very nice and we'll have to go back! We wandered around a bit more and wasted some money in the slot machines and looked around in the stores which were now open since we were out to sea. I made a mental note that they had small photo albums with the Celebrity Horizon embossed on them--I always like to get those for my pictures! No sign of feminine hygiene products on prominent display!
Dinner was late at the Starlight restaurant--which is midships one deck up from our cabin. Very easy to get to from where we were but we found out that our cabin was right under the galley and we had some concerns about noise--there has been some but not bad at all. Tonight was casual night of course and we were the first to arrive at table 32, a large round table for 8, which was to become 9! Besides us were a couple from Harrisburg who were on their first cruise. They have been to Bermuda many times though, and to our left were three older women from NYC. We were later joined by a couple from Pittsburgh to make 9. There was a slight screw up with table assignments I guess but it seemed to work out fine. We were all astounded by the sheer numbers of cutlery at each place setting! The orchid on the table was very nice too. For dinner I had the vegetable terrine, which wasn't as good as last December on the Galaxy, but still tasty, the Mesculan salad with red wine vinaigrette and the veal piccatta, which was pretty good. They served a risotto with the veal which had some white wine in it--very tasty. And for dessert--what I have been eagerly awaiting for several weeks now--a Swan Puff!!! And for you folks out there who requested I eat one for you--I did!
We rolled out of dinner around 10:30 or so and headed over to the show. It was the typical sort of first night thing with introductions of the staff and whatnot and a featured singer who was very good with her torch songs but not so good on some of the other cheesy material. She should stick to the ballads I guess. Some lame attempts at humor too. Earlier in the evening we did see a woman in the Cova Cafe/Plaza Bar who was playing the piano very nicely. That was relaxing. Saw some other entertainers here and there but didn't stop long enough to see or hear much. The Celebrity singers and dancers--a homelier lot I have never seen on a cruise ship. Hopefully they will get better, and I know, it's terrible to judge people on the basis of their looks. It's not like I could fit into tights and do any better! LOL! In any case, the opening night shows are always awful so we'll have to see what tomorrow night is like. After the show we headed to the casino for a little more slot machines (no luck). The casino was crowded--it was good to see. Nothing worse than a casino that doesn't have any life in it. Maybe there are a lot of NYers on board and they like to gamble? Who knows. In any case, it was back to the cabin and bed. We had to set our watches forward an hour tonight so no sense staying up too too late! The light rocking of the ship would lull us to sleep (no big Dennis-related waves here!)
Day Two - Monday - At Sea
We had a nice lazy afternoon and ended up taking a nap, another important vacation activity. There is nothing like late seating to make for a nice long full day. Tonight was going to be a formal night so I had to think about showering and getting dressed up. I was going to wear my nice new pinstripe suit tonight. We thought we would bring a bottle of wine to the table to share but we had some time to kill before the doors were going to open (and we skipped the Captain's cocktail party) so we headed for the casino where I won some small change at the slots. We were the first to dinner so we sat down and waiting a bit for the others. I would say the highlight of the dinner tonight was the very interesting sorbet they served between the salad and the main course, which was a Rose wine sorbet--very tasty, and the dessert I had, and apple tart Tatin, which was drizzled in about the best butterscotch sauce I have ever tasted with a dash of Calvados. Very good. For the main course I had the Beef Toredor or whatever it was called, which was like a filet mignon and cooked perfectly to order. Everyone looked so nice all dressed up tonight too but I did notice very few tuxedos, most men wore dark suits with a few exceptions. That was one strange thing about the dress code for this cruise--we were expecting 2 formal nights, 3 informal, and 2 casual but on the first day the Horizon Daily said that it was going to be 2 formal, 1 informal, and 4 casual, so I definitely brought too many dressy clothes but I guess I will just ditch the jacket and tie and make my outfits 'casual'. This is probably a very practical idea since we will be in port for several days and you can stay out on the island until 7 pm or so and come back for dinner.
After dinner we went to the show, "Broadway Classics" which was just terrible. Ok, maybe that's an overreaction. There are just 2 singers in the company, the 'boy' singer and the 'girl' singer. All the other cast are just dancers but strangely there were background singers, I suppose they were on tape. The only redeeming value about the show was the 'girl' singer was actually pretty good. Her name is Mikki Spoon. She could belt out a show tune pretty good. The boy singer wasn't nearly as good and he had a very cheesy haircut and mustache. I thought I was looking at Tony Orlando. Very 70's look, which I know all that stuff is coming back these days but isn't there some way we can prevent that from happening?? In any case, while we are in port Bermuda doesn't allow professional entertainment so I don't know what to expect for the next couple days. It does look like (from our Horizon Daily for tomorrow) that there will be bands playing on deck and Marilyn the piano player down in the Plaza Bar right next to the Cova Cafe. She really is quite enjoyable and a pleasure to listen to playing. There is apparently a movie theater at King's Wharf so maybe we'll be adventurous and go see a movie onshore. It says in the daily program that the gangplank will be open 24 hours so I guess we can come and go as we please, although I can't imagine that Bermuda is a late night kind of island--that whole British reserve thing you know. Well, off to bed...
Day Three - Tuesday - King's Wharf
What a very hot day it is out there today! We finally did motivate and get off the ship. We weren't officially docking until 11 am and that's about what it turned out to be. I ran upstairs and grabbed some yogurt since I felt like I hadn't eaten enough. Chocolate chip cookies don't cut it for a breakfast after all. Getting off the ship the 'pileup' to get on a bus was quite a mess so we opted to hop on the ferry to get to Somerset bridge. We wanted to see it since it's the smallest drawbridge in the world. It was a nice little ferry ride and it was a cute little bridge but once we were there we were hard pressed to figure out where the bus stop was, but we found it, and waited and waited for the #7 bus to go to Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. The bus, once it came, was quite crowded with beachgoers but we managed to get on. We passed some gorgeous beaches on the way and will have to get off and look tomorrow. In any case, we got off the bus at the Gibbs Hill/Sonesta beach stop and walked uphill to the lighthouse. It was steamy outside! But the view from up there was worth it! We could see the Horizon docked far off in the distance across the Great Bay. It was worth the effort to get there. There is also a little tea house at the top that I'm sure you could have a nice lunch at, but we were moving on. We hopped back on the #7 bus hoping to go to the Botanical Gardens, but I guess you have to speak up and say something--the bus doesn't stop at every stop unless you ring the bell so off to Hamilton we went, passing the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on the way. I suppose the day we're in Hamilton we can go back and find the botanical gardens. We walked around Hamilton a bit but didn't do any of the stores yet since I think we're going to do that tomorrow night when on Wednesday nights they close off Front Street and have a street fair type thing. We did go and find the internet cafe in Hamilton and I checked my AOL mail. I wasn't bold enough to put my diskette into the computer and upload this travelogue yet, and the internet connection there was rather slow so I didn't want to mess around with it. Maybe tomorrow. The price for internet access was $10/hour. Not bad I thought. The guy charged me $5 for the half hour I was there. The other nice thing about being there was it was very heavily air-conditioned in the Onion (the internet cafe) which we liked. Docked in Hamilton we saw the Celebrity Zenith and the Norwegian Crown. I wonder if we could take a tour of the Zenith with our Celebrity card? We'll have to try that tomorrow. We took the 3 pm ferry back to King's Wharf and were back on the ship in no time. We had missed lunch and the grill so we ordered a sandwich, a pizza and a salad from room service. The pizza is quite tasty! The sandwich was smallish and the salad was ok (according to Robert.) I also got a cheese plate with crackers which is always nice. Celebrity's room service menu is limited as I have noted in the past.
Robert wanted to stay and read in the room for a while to enjoy the AC, but I wanted to explore the Dockyard area a little more since we didn't see that much of it when we were here for 1 rainy day in April. There is a big craft market which had a lot of interesting things which I will have to check out again tomorrow. I was also looking for the Neptune Cinema thinking it might be fun to go to a movie tonight, and I did eventually find it but the movie that was playing didn't interest me. So who knows what we'll do tonight? In Bermuda the casino and the shows have to be closed on ship by law so we'll have to see what might be fun. There is some movie playing late tonight in the show lounge and a deck party too so maybe we'll go check that out. Since I brought this laptop with me I have the DVD Rom player so I brought a couple of DVD movies with me so maybe we'll watch "Shakespeare in Love" on the computer screen tonight! I am looking forward to going up to St. George tomorrow. There is a direct ferry tomorrow at 10:30 am right to St. George so we're going to go do that. St. George is referred to as the Williamsburg of Bermuda and it was the first capital of Bermuda as well.
When I was up on the deck this afternoon I was scoping out the decks to see where I can start getting a serious suntan. I know, I could go hang out at the beach and have a nice time I'm sure, but the beach doesn't have all that nice food and other things to do. Robert can't do much sun so we don't hit the beach too often. In any case, my rear decks of the ship look like they get very good sun late in the afternoon so I'll have to go there. It will be off the beaten path too which I like.
Have I said anything about the passenger mix yet?? Very diverse range of ages, even a bunch of kids which surprises me with school going back in September. So I guess they are playing hooky although some families look like the kids are still preschool so I guess that's not an issue. There are a good bunch of young adults on board in their 20's and 30's who are more or less acting like adults. So far I'd have to say it's the liveliest ship we've ever been on (if you don't count the Finnish vodka cruise we took several years ago, but that's another story.)
It's funny how different people have different perceptions of things--we didn't like last night's show "Broadway Classics" but everyone else at our dining room table did! Go figure! Tonight up on the Pool Deck they had the Tropic Fruit and Sorbet buffet which was very lively not to mention tasty! Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
We also kicked some serious Broadway Trivia butt tonight in the Plaza Bar with Marilyn Woods the piano player and the cruise director, Dave Cole. We were joined halfway through the game by a couple from NY who had the crucial answers to a couple of questions we just had no idea about, so with their help we emerged victorious with 20 out of 26 answers right! For our efforts we got Celebrity visors, which we ended up giving away to some of the ladies at our table. Coffee cups would have been nice, hint hint Celebrity, or maybe a t-shirt. I had won a t-shirt last December on the Galaxy at the Roulette table. Speaking of roulette--I did terrible, but there was this one old man, who we shall refer to as the "troll" who was at the roulette table nearly every hour the casino was open. He won thousands of dollars on this cruise. But it was annoying to see him there all the time so I didn't play too much on this cruise. He played multiple chips on multiple numbers at all times and was bound to hit something--thus he kept raking in the money.
Day Four - Wednesday - King's Wharf
I guess I finished off the afternoon by finding a place to sit out in the sun on the ship and continue reading my books. Tonight was the one informal night so I was going to wear a blue blazer and some khakis. I had brought 8 ties--another sign of overpacking once again! Oh well. We enjoyed going off to the "Not So Newlywed Game" before dinner for the late seating and once again wondered why anyone would get up and humiliate themselves by participating in this! Of course, it was fun for us to enjoy but who would consent to such a thing?? We also went to see the "Liar's Club" which was rather funny as well. Tonight in the Palladium show lounge (a room that needs a makeover--I didn't like the dark colors and the balcony sight lines were bad) there was going to be a Rock-n-Roll party which we skipped. I think we were just being lazy tonight! So we decided to hole up in the room a bit and watch "Shakespeare in Love" on DVD on my laptop. What a good movie that was! Needless to say, we spent some time in the Plaza Bar tonight before dinner listening to the piano stylings of Marilyn Woods--she really has made this cruise a pleasant one. We also got to see our cheerful waitress Renata bring us some drinks as well. We shall have to tip her extra at the end of the week. Have I mentioned how good the capuccino is down at the Cova Cafe/Plaza Bar?? Very tasty. Worth the 2 bucks. They also bring you a very very tasty piece of chocolate from Cova, a famous cafe in Milan. Yum yum yum.
I was starting to get that feeling that our cruise was just about halfway over and that we would have to go home soon. I hate that feeling!!!! Do we really have to leave?? Life is so unfair.
Day Five - Thursday - King's Wharf/Hamilton
Readdressing the coffee issue--other than the Cova Cafe, which you pay for, the best coffee on the ship is from room service, according to my in-house coffee expert, Robert. Although he did think the dining room coffee was the best we've ever had in a dining room of a cruise ship.
I was starting to get extremely agitated that our cruise was coming to an end soon! Oh, another issue, hot water in the cabin--there was a never ending supply. In fact, with the sunburn I wished I could have gotten the water a bit cooler at times!
Day Six - Friday - Hamilton/Sail Away
I decided I would work on my tan some more today so I was around the pool area a bit (and enjoying my private deck space at the back of the ship) but went to see the "King of the Horizon" contest in the pool area which was silly but I was glad the old Italian-American guy with the potbelly won. He had the most charm by far! There was a young bodybuilder type guy there but he just didn't have the personality the old guy had! There were a variety of personal enrichment lectures to attend as well but never made it to any of those. Tonight was our 2nd formal night so I had to get cleaned up at a reasonable hour. We got gussied up and went and spent some time down in the Plaza Bar, of course, to listen to Marilyn Woods. She takes requests by the way! The show tonight was going to be the Best of Times, but we only sat in on it for a few minutes. I will say, the stage on the Horizon is very limited in what you can do so it would necessarily limit what sort of production values you can have (such as scenery changes and moving risers and that type of thing...) It was nice to be at sea again, as sad as we were to be leaving Bermuda and sailing towards home. Tonight was the Grand Buffet in the Starlight Restaurant and I managed to sneak in by the back just to get in to take pictures. It was lovely! All those ice carvings and breads in interesting shapes--and of course--swan puffs! Can't miss out on those!
Day Seven - Saturday - At Sea
The high tea was today but I didn't feel like dressing up (again, since I put on long pants to meet the Captain, which I thought was respectful) and wanted to concentrate on tanning and reading my book. They had to do a medical emergency airlift by helicopter today so the grill area on the back of the ship and all the back deck areas were closed for a while. We heard wildly conflicting stories about what the problem was--it was either a young lady with appendicitis or an old man who had a heart attack. I saw the Coast Guard planes fly by scoping out the scene but didn't stay up near the pool to watch the helicopter. Too scary to watch for my money. So I easily found amusement elsewhere. We went to lunch in the dining room, which was tasty as usual. I think I snuck a hotdog in there somewhere before the grill area closed down which was very good!
Today I had fun with fruity drinks--I had a Crazy Pineapple which was basically a Coco Loco inside of a real pineapple. I felt like a true vacationer then! All I needed was a big beer gut and a tacky t-shirt which said "I'm with stupid" or something like that. In short, I was without shame at that point. But I just had to try one.
Tonight was our final dinner in the dining room, a depressing though. My thoughts started to turn towards the ugly reality that Cem and Mukesh would not be serving me dinner tomorrow night at home. Where was I to get my veal medallions?? My swan puffs? My panna cotta!?? Tonight we would skip the show again, "Jump, Jive, and Rock -n- Roll" in favor of a little time in the casino and of course listening to Marilyn Woods at the piano. We just did not win any money in the casino this time. And the troll was at the roulette wheel again. Thoughts turned to throwing him overboard! I like a lively, friendly table of people in good spirits but this guy was all business. It was rather depressing to watch actually. I guess the first night out my favorite number, 16, kept hitting on the roulette table. Of course that was the night I wasn't playing!!!! Oh well.
Before dinner I managed to pack up my bags and lay out some clothes for the morning. I hate this part. I scooped up all my bar bills and my Horizon Dailies so I could save them for my ever-larger archive of such materials. I had to go down to guest relations to make sure I bought some of the souvenir "mini-menus" from the chef Michel Roux. They are cute and have recipes on the back! That will help bring back memories of the trip and tide us over until the next cruise! They also sell a number of cookbooks by the Roux brothers but you have to get them from Guest Relations as well. Considering how much they promote their cuisine you would think they have these things in a nice display right in the gift shops?? That would make sense. They should make that change. I think they could sell a whole bunch of those things!Day Eight - Sunday - Disembarkation in NYC
I hate this part.
We had a very nice breakfast in the Starlight restaurant and got to see our dining room companions once more. The guy at the table next to us who had the bad moped accident was up and walking much better now. I got to have the bananas and cream once more. Everyone was sad to be leaving of course. Since we were Captain's Club members we had to go to the Rendezvous Lounge to wait to get off the ship--we had #2 as well due to the Captain's Club thing. I guess it took us over an hour and a half to disembark but went fast once it got moving. There were non-US citizens who had to go to customs on the ship and I had to go pay some duty on the extra things I bought above my duty free allowances on liquor and cigarettes. They were both still a very good deal with paying the duty. These matters were efficiently handled on board. We disembarked and then went to the Custom's cashier to pay and were on our way to find the luggage (easily) and get to the bus. The one bad thing about getting off early when we had the Celebrity bus to take back to Washington was everyone else was not getting off early, so we waited around quite a while near the bus waiting for everyone else to get there. The bus was rather pokey getting back to Washington so I don't know that we'll do that option again, but it was free so I shouldn't complain too much. Amtrak Metroliner to/from NY would have been much faster but costs money, of course. Getting home we unpacked and started doing our wash.....boo hoo!!!
All and all it was a very nice cruise. I'd say as good as any of the
others. The food was definitely better and more imaginative than on the
Rotterdam, maybe a little better than on the Galaxy, but the cabin was
rather plain and no match for either the Rotterdam or the Galaxy. But
then again, we didn't have a veranda so I'm sure that's coloring our
impression. This cruise was more lively than either of the 2 previous,
but not so much so that we couldn't find nice quiet areas to read our
books or take in some sun. All and all, the combination of a healthy
dose of at sea days and time in Bermuda was a good one. While King's
Wharf doesn't have all that much to do, it is very convenient to good
beaches by way of bus and it's a quick ferry into Hamilton if you want
to walk around there. Considering this sailing was a few hundred
dollars cheaper than the comparable one on Zenith, which docked in St.
Georges instead of King's Wharf, I would rate it as a very good deal.
St. Georges isn't worth the big difference in cost in my opinion. As
quaint as it is, I suspect most people are going for the sun and
beaches, and the beaches on the South Shore are more prevalent and
closer to Hamilton and King's Wharf. The decent number of children we
saw seemed to be largely well behaved and having a good time. The food
and our wait staff and cabin steward were all excellent. In short, this
is a wonderful and convenient getaway to paradise for anyone in the
Northeast USA with a convenient sailing out of NY for those who don't
want to fly! I would highly recommend the Horizon as a good buy for the