Cruising long ago evolved into one of the best vacation values. Where else can you pay one price for pool time, entertainment, meals and accommodations -- while unpacking just once as you visit multiple exotic destinations? Still, there are those little extras onboard -- booze, specialty dining, spa treatments -- that can add up quickly. Carnival Cruise Line is one of our favorite values at sea, and its newest ship, Carnival Horizon, is packed with treats that won't have you reaching for your wallet. Here are five free activities on Carnival Horizon.
Feel like a kid again at Carnival Horizon's SportsSquare. In fact, this colorful outdoor spot is often filled with more adults than children. It's like a giant playland, where you can try your hand at mini-golf, take on friends at Ping-Pong, wrap yourself up in a game of Twister or get goofy challenging others to giant billiards, played using balls about the size of volleyballs. The SportsSquare is family-friendly fun that won't cost you any extra nickels or dimes.
2. Guy's Burger Joint
Hand's down, the best place to get a burger onboard Carnival Horizon is Guy's Burger Joint. For the low, low price of absolutely free, you can nosh on burgers designed by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. Burgers are served up hot, fresh and loaded with gooey, melty cheese. You also can add your own touch thanks to a brimming condiments and toppings station, which includes all the usual favorites along with grilled onions and mushrooms, hot peppers and coleslaw. As Guy says, you'll be "riding the bus to Flavortown."
Burgers not your thing? Carnival Horizon has a number of excellent free casual dining options, including BlueIguana Cantina for Mexican (get a burrito bowl for breakfast!), Pizzeria del Capitano (which even serves up gluten-free slices), Mongolian Wok (for made-to-order Asian noodle dishes) and The Pasta Bar (for hot and fresh Italian specialties, a la minute). Horizon even offers a made-to-order salad bar, called Fresh Creations, cleverly housed in the adults-only Serenity space, so your kids won't accidently stumble across something green in their food.
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You'll find only two SkyRides at sea, and one of them is on Carnival Horizon. (The other is on twin Carnival Vista.) This ride essentially is a foot-powered capsule that hangs from a track, which encircles Deck 14. It's open air and requires the rider to do a little work. The payoff is unencumbered 360-degree views. You can go solo and take in the sights at a slower pace, or challenge a pal to a race. Or do both. It's free, and you can go as many times as you like.
4. WaterWorks Water Park
Part waterslide, part aqua playpark, all awesome, WaterWorks water park is a blast no matter your age. The highlights here are definitely the two water slides: Twister and Kaleid-O-Slide. Both are fast and fun, and worth trying at least once. The splash zone is great for kids, with its drenching water bucket, sprinklers and water jets. It even has a pint-sized waterslide for kids who don't quite make the height requirements for the big ones. WaterWorks is an ideal way to cool off on a hot day, and you won't pay another cent to play.
5. Ropes Course
If you've got a little daredevil in you, the ropes course -- called SkyCourse -- is a perfect fit. You've actually got two options here, one a little less challenging than the other. The SkyCourse gives passengers the chance to clamber over ropes and obstacles while being safely harnessed in. Move from raised platform to platform by scrambling across rope bridges, climbing through nets and balancing on wobbly boards. Both paths are fairly short and provide quick thrills. And yep: SkyCourse is free.