Cruise ships are always trying to find new ways to wow you, whether it’s with a giant glass observation orb, bumpers cars, or an insane water park on the lido deck. Lucky for you, the cruise lines have upped their bar game in recent years. Whereas once the main draw was fruity cocktails and steel drum bands, today’s newer ships offer private wine bars, craft-beer dens, and even robot mixologists. And you’ll realize after a couple of “at sea” days filled with tanning and trivia that onboard drinking is probably gonna be your go-to activity. So these cruise ship bars are worth staying up long past your bedtime.
1. BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle
The bar on this Holland America ship is partnering with Washington State’s best known winery — Chateau Ste. Michelle — to allow groups of up to ten passengers (at scheduled seatings) to create their own wines. Guests start by tasting a handful of Chateau Ste. Michele’s best before mxing up to five varietals in their own custom… BLEND! From there, they can bring the bottle to dinner or just back to the room to drink alone in the dark. Up to them.
Ships: Holland America ship
2. Cunard’s Commodore Club
While not just a martini bar, Commodore Club’s menu includes the line’s most extensive selection of martinis. You’ll feel like a million dollars sipping yours straight up or with a twist while taking in the 270-degree views. Chairs, many tucked into windowed nooks, are deep and comfortable and, as befits Cunard, the more formal evening dress code means everyone’s dressed to impress.
3. Svedka Ice Bar
At the Svedka Ice Bar, patrons don parkas and gloves to keep warm as they party in the chilly 17-degree temperature. Since this popular spot only holds 25 guests at a time, you’ll want to make reservations in advance. The $20 entry fee includes two cocktails.
Ships: Norwegian Cruise Line
4. Rising Tide Bar
Though you will undoubtedly stand next to someone in your boarding line from Alabama who says something like, “Hot damn, that Saban’s so good they named a bar after ‘im on a cruise ship!’, this bar has NOTHING to do with football. Built into the center atrium, the bar raises and lowers three decks, allowing patrons to get a bird’s eye view of all the action while enjoying their drinks.
Ships: Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
5. Golden Lion Pub
If a low-key pub is more your style, this cruise ship bar is for you. A wide selection of ales and lagers make this a prime destination for beer lovers, and entertainment comes in the form of pub quizzes, karaoke, live sports broadcasts (think soccer and cricket), and piano music. Golden Lion also serves traditional British fare, like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, during lunch hours.
Ships: Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth
6. Tobacco Road, from Miami to Norwegian Escape
One of Amercia’s oldest and most chronicled bars has found a new home on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape, the line’s new 4,200-passenger ship due to start sailing from Miami in November 2015. The legendary bar at 626 South Miami Avenue was issued the very first liquor license in the city over a century ago and also operated as a strip club and gambling den for Al Capone and friends. Urban development has prompted the owners to close its doors for good. The replica aboard Norwegian Escape will include many of the bar’s most famous pictures, vintage furniture and neon signs.
Ships: Escape, Norwegian
7. RedFrog Pub
The Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub on the new Magic is a massive hit (you won’t believe how few ships that cruise the Caribbean “do” the Caribbean onboard). It’s the only place to get Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red Ale (it’s available in 100-ounce glass tubes as well as regular mugs). Plus, the pub has a Margaritaville vibe that includes live music and, as bartenders wander around with video cameras, giant TV screens behind the bar that chronicle the goings-on. It’s hilarious.
Ships: Carnival Cruise Lines
8. Bellini Bar on Royal Princess
An Italian-inspired cocktail bar located on the Fiesta Deck overlooking the atrium, Bellini’s is the perfect people-watching bar. It’s a classy looking bar, reminiscent of the Art Deco hotels one finds all over Europe, with high leather stools and plenty of bling. It serves up a variety of champagne-inspired drinks.
Ships: Royal Princess