Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 365 out of 500
Accommodation: 140 out of 200
Food: 236 out of 400
Service: 264 out of 400
Entertainment: 61 out of 100
Cruise: 258 out of 400
Overall Score: 1324 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: CDF Croisieres de France
Former Names: Pacific Dream, Island Star, Horizon
IMO Number: 8807088
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: $185 million
Entered Service: May 1990/Apr 2012
Length (ft/m): 682.4/208.0
Beam (ft/m): 95.1/29.0
Draft (ft/m): 23.6/7.2
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (19,960kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 620
Passengers (lower beds): 1,442
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 32.8
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2
Cabins (total): 721
Size Range (sq ft/m): 172.2-500.5/16-46.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 68
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 4
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 3
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
This is a family-friendly casual ship for French-speakers
Overview. This ship is quite suited to young (and young at heart) French-speaking couples, singles, and families with children of all ages who want a first cruise experience in a smart, almost elegant ship, with plenty of public rooms, a lively atmosphere, and a French cruise experience.
The Ship. Horizon was originally built for and owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises. Although now well over 20 years old, it still has a fairly contemporary, though angular profile that gives the impression of power and speed thanks to its blue hull (the hull itself was designed by mega-yacht designer Jon Bannenberg). CDF Croisières de France took over the ship - from Pullmantur Cruises - in April 2012.
The exterior pool deck features one large pool and another for children, plus a couple of hot tubs, and in-built shower enclosures.
Inside, there is a similar interior layout to its sister ship - Pullmantur Cruises’ Zenith, with decor that is quite restrained, even elegant. The feeling is one of uncluttered surroundings, and the ship features some interesting artwork. Soothing, pastel colors and high-quality soft furnishings are used throughout the interiors. The decks are named after colors (cobalt, turquoise, indigo, etc.).
An elegant Art Deco-style hotel-like lobby, reminiscent of Miami Beach hotels, has a two-deck-high ceiling and a spacious feel, and is the contact point for the reception desk, shore excursions, and onboard accounts counters.
The principal deck that houses many of the public entertainment rooms (located two decks above the lobby, has a double-width indoor promenade - good for strolling and people-watching. There is a decent-size library. Other facilities include a large Zephyr Lounge Bar; a Jame’s Piano Bar - with quasi-fireplace and Internet-connect center; and a Café Moka - for coffee and chat (tête à tête). A large, elegantly appointed Monte Carlo Casino has its own bar.
CDF Croisières de France changed some of the public rooms and open areas, and has added splashes of bright colors, motifs, and new signage. The hospitality and the range and variety of food have been tailored to its French-speaking family clientele. Expect to find an abundance of children during the peak holiday periods, when the passenger mix becomes younger.
Passenger niggles? Lines for embarkation, disembarkation, shore tenders, and for self-serve buffet meals. The doors to the public restrooms and the outdoor decks are very heavy. The public restrooms are clinical and need some refreshing decor change. There are no cushioned pads for the poolside sunloungers.
Families. CDF Croisières de France has a good program for children and teenagers, with specially trained youth counselors, and a decent range of activities, although the children’s play areas are not extensive (because this is a mid-size ship and not a large resort ship). Children under 3 travel free. All drinks are included, which makes things simpler for families with children.
Accommodation. There are several price grades, including outside-view suites and cabins, and interior cabins. Note that many of the outside-view cabins on the safety equipment deck have lifeboat-obstructed views.
Standard cabins. The outside-view and interior cabins have good-quality fittings with lots of wood accenting, are tastefully decorated and of an above-average size, with an excellent amount of closet and drawer space and reasonable insulation between cabins. All have twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed, and a good amount of closet and drawer space. The cabin soundproofing is quite good although this depends on location - some cabins are located opposite crew access doors, which can be busy and noisy. The bathrooms have a generous shower area, and a small range of toiletries is provided, although towels are a little small, as is storage space for toiletries. The lowest priced outside-view cabins have a porthole, but all others have picture windows.
Royal Suites. The largest accommodation is in two Royal Suites midships on Atlantic Deck (Deck 10), and forward on Marina Deck. These have a large private balcony and a separate bedroom and lounge, a dining area with glass dining table, plus CD and DVD players in addition to a large television. The bathroom is also large and has a whirlpool tub with integral shower.
Another 20 suites, also on Atlantic Deck, are very tastefully furnished, although they are really just larger cabins rather than suites. They do have a generous amount of drawer and other storage space, however, and a sleeping area with European duvets on the beds instead of sheets and blankets, plus a lounge area. They also have good bathrooms. All accommodation designated as suites suffers from noise generated on the swimming pool deck directly above.
Dining. Le Splendide Restaurant (the main dining room) features a raised section in its center. It has several tables for two, as well as for four, six, or eight (in banquettes), although the chairs don’t have armrests. There are two seatings for dinner and open seating for breakfast and lunch, at tables for two, four, six, eight, or 10. The cuisine, its presentation, and service are quite decent, now that the menus are overseen by Francis Leveque, chef of the Restaurant du Marché in Paris. Menus include a choice of four appetizers, four main dishes, and four desserts.
Other dining options. For informal meals, the Marché Gourmand has a traditional single-line self-service buffet for breakfast and lunch, and includes a pasta station, rotisserie, and pizza ovens. At peak times, the buffet is simply too small, too crowded, and noisy. It is also open (as Bistro Gourmand) for casual dinner between 6.30pm and 11pm.
The Terrace and Grill, located outdoors adjacent to the Bistro, serves typical fast food items such as burgers and hot dogs.
Entertainment. The two-level Broadway Theater, with main and balcony levels, has good sight lines from almost all seats, except where the railing at the front of the balcony level impedes sight lines. It has a large stage for this size of ship, and decent lighting and sound equipment.
The shows consist of a troupe of showgirl dancers, whose routines are reminiscent of high-school shows. Cabaret acts are the main feature; these include singers, magicians, and comedians, among others, and very much geared to the family audience that this ship carries on most cruises. There is also plenty of live - and loud - music for dancing to in various bars and lounges, plus the Saphir Dance Club (disco). Participation activities tend to be quite amateurish.
Spa/Fitness. The Salle de Fitness is located high in the ship, just aft of the funnel. It has a gymnasium with ocean-view windows and high-tech muscle-pump equipment, an exercise area, several therapy treatment rooms including a Rasul (mud treatment) room, and men’s/women’s saunas.