Ship Reviews

Ship review: Pullmantur’s Horizon

Horizon is Pullmantur’s smallest cruise ship, at just 46,811-gross tons, and carrying 1,875-passengers, but she has an impressive array of amenities and features designed to make her as dynamic as possible. She will be cruising the Arabian Gulf this coming cruise season, catering primarily to the Spanish cruise market.

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Horizon most recently sailed as Island Star for the British cruise line Island Cruises, which was dissolved in 2015. She joined that cruise line after a successful career with Celebrity Cruises as Celebrity Horizon and was from the spring 2012 until 2017 operated by Croisières de France until it too was liquidated.

Horizon re-joined the Pullmantur fleet last year and has since then been cruising the Mediterranean, Canaries and Caribbean. Everything about her is intended to make her appeal to a broad cross-section of the Spanish cruising public, from retirees to couples and young families.

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Pullmantur Cruises’ ship Horizon is cruising her first ever season in the Middle East in 2018/19, home-porting in Dubai.

For this reason, Horizon offers a taste of Spain in the Arabian Gulf, which until recently has been dominated by the Italian and German cruise lines. Now, with Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas homeporting in the 2019/2020 cruise season, and P&O’s Oceana joining Horizon in the coming 2018/2019 cruise season, that’s all changing.

Horizon’s public areas and amenities

Horizon features more bars and lounges (including a cigar bar) than one would expect aboard a ship this size. There’s even a kids’ club and of course a Broadway-style show lounge, one of the defining features of the modern cruise industry.

Reflecting her age (Horizon was launched in 1990), the ship’s passenger deck layout is more reminiscent of an ocean liner than a modern cruise ship. Unlike newer ships that have the public passenger decks low down, and the accommodations up-top, Horizon is the opposite. Decks 3 through 6 are entirely taken up with staterooms, and Deck 7 and Deck 8 are the two entertainment decks, home to the ship’s many bars, lounges and restaurants.

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Aft on Deck 7 is the main dining room Le Splendide, which sits directly aft of Salon Rendezvous, where guests gather for pre-dinner drinks in the evening. This bar is also a popular before and after party venue for the evening show, which takes place in the Showroom Theatre directly ahead in the bow area of the same deck.

Salon Rendezvous aboard Pullmantur Cruises’ Horizon.

Adjacent the to Salon Rendezvous there is also a small conference room. The room directly above, on Deck 8, is the card room, adjacent to the ship’s small library and internet cafe.

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Saphir Disco aboard Horizon.

Packed into this space in the stern of the ship there are two bars, Le James Piano Bar and the ship’s main nightlife locale, Saphir Disco.

Horizon’s retail area and Cafe Moka.

Forward on Deck 8 Horizon’s retail area occupies the full beam, transiting nicely into the Café Moka, which sits behind the (rather large for a ship this size) Casino Del Mar.

Horizon’s casino and kids’ and teens’ facilities.

In a wise move, perhaps intended to encourage or better facilitate use of the casino, Pullmantur have also located the delightful Kids Club here.

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The double-story Showroom Theatre occupies the bow area of Deck 8.

Outdoor areas aboard Horizon

Up top are the ship’s recreation areas, consisting of two pools, a fitness facility and a spa. The large pool area occupies the middle of the ship, with an adult’s pool directly ahead of a smaller kids’ pool.

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Between the adults and kids pools there are two Jacuzzis.

This area is framed by extremely comfy and rather classy looking lounge areas for relaxing during the day with a book, or after dinner with a drink.

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The ship’s pool bar, Bar Zephir, serves until late at night, but the pool area is rarely the focal nightlife spot on the ship, it’s more of a have a drink and chill hangout than a party venue.

Up top, on Deck 12, the highest deck, are the ship’s sun loungers, in an area overlooking the bow called the Solarium.

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Around the pool on this deck there is also a jogging track, although it is mostly used as a vantage point during arrivals into port and sail-aways.

All the way aft on Deck 12 is the ship’s spa, complete with men and womens’ saunas, a gym and beauty salon. Unlike most modern cruise ship spas, there is no dedicated spa pool area, which is a pity.

Dining aboard Horizon

There are three options for dining aboard Horizon. There is the ship’s main dining room Le Splendide, which seats 912 in a set-seating two sitting dining arrangement each evening. Breakfast and lunch are also served here in a freestyle seating arrangement.

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Le Marché Gourmand Buffet Restaurant on Deck 11 aboard Horizon.

Up above, Le Marché Gourmand Buffet Restaurant on Deck 11 aft, serves a variety of international cuisine in an informal setting.

The indoor dining area can become quite boisterous during the breakfast, lunch and dinner rush, but there is also an outdoor seating area, with its own outdoor grill, which is a fantastic spot in good weather.

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Casual is the predominant dress code aboard Horizon, although for dinner guests will tend to smarten up slightly. The cruise line advises that guests don footwear prior to entering the dining room, which gives an indication of the standards expected.

Staterooms aboard Horizon

There are 721 staterooms aboard Pullmantur’s Horizon spread across 11 categories. The pay-grade is based on the size and category of the cabins, as well as their location aboard the ship. In reality there are only four main differences between the staterooms, inside, outside, balcony and suite.

In another reflection of Horizon’s age, with her accommodation layout designed for a different cruise era, she has just 68 balcony cabins. The vast majority of the other 637 staterooms are outside cabins.

There are also 16 suites, the largest of which is the Suite-Royale rooms, which are double the size of a balcony cabin, with a separate living room and bedroom.

Horizon’s Middle East cruise season

For the winter 2018/2019 cruise season between November and March, Pullmantur will homeport Horizon in Dubai, cruising roundtrip in the Arabian Gulf with an overnight stay in port prior to departure.

The 7-day cruise itinerary includes port calls in Abu Dhabi, Khasab and Fujairah, as well as Muscat in Oman.

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