Everyone’s idea of the perfect bar varies – fortunately, there’s plenty to choose from on every cruise ship and whether you love your traditional British pub or you’re more into supping margaritas in a sophisticated cocktail bar al fresco, there’s something for everyone on board. Here we share our favourite cruise ship bars in no particular order and give you just a taste of all that they have to offer.
Aboard Celebrity’s Silhouette, you’ll find Michael’s Club, a chilled bar with decent 46″ TV screens that broadcast sports. The cool thing about this little venue is that it offers an excellent range of craft beers with 64 on offer, alongside cognac and bourbon, scotch and fine whiskeys. The prices range from a reasonable $4.50 for Budweiser right up to $49 for a bottle of Deus Brut Des Flanders – a delightful drink which is a magnificent symbiosis of brewed beer and sparkling wine with fascinating complexity. Cruisers can also enjoy staple favourites such as Old Speckled Hen, Newcastle Brown and Fullers ESB, with beers set to change regularly due to seasonality.
Aside from the awesome selection of drinks, you can learn how to pair beer with food, have a go at pouring the perfect draught or take part in a tasting session that allows you to sample a wide range of beers from the bar. There’s also live music and a selection of bar snacks.
Another gem from Celebrity is Cellar Masters, featured on their Constellation and Solstice-class ships. If wine tasting is your thing (or something you’ve always wanted to try), this bar is for you. You simply swipe your SeaPass card and select from any of the Enomatic wine-by-the-glass dispensers which will give you a 1-ounce, 2.5-ounce or 5-ounce serving of your choice. Everything is, of course, for a fee – but the fantastic thing about this is that you can try a small portion of some of the most expensive wines for a fraction of the cost of having to buy a full glass. The Sommeliers are at hand during standard hours to help you make your selection and provide advice on your choices – and for the rest of the time, the DIY serving system means that the bar stays open 24 hours.
On board the Carnival Magic, Breeze and Liberty ships you’ll stumble across the Caribbean-themed RedFrog pub which Carnival describes as “laid-back, no-worries, oh-so-lively Key West-inspired”. Laid back certainly fits the bill and it might be Caribbean-themed but the British ‘pub’ element is still definitely there. Here you can sup on a pint of cold Thirsty Red Frog Ale or tuck into the tasty Caribbean snack menu (on Breeze or Magic ships) while enjoying some quality live music. There are plenty of treats on the menu too: try the coconut shrimp with a pina colada sauce, or tuck into a bowl of firecracker chicken wings that have been tossed in their own recipe spices and served with a rum-molasses BBQ sauce – delicious. You can hang out here, watch the ocean and relax – or if you’re feeling livelier, challenge your fellow cruisers to a game of table football or air hockey. Watch out for the drinks specials later in the day or bag yourself a five pint beer tube to ensure your evening goes with a Caribbean swing.
Rising Tide Bar
The Rising Tide bar is the first of its kind at sea and features on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas cruise ships. It deserves a mention for novelty value alone and the great thing about this little bar is that it levitates every 30 minutes or so, all the way from deck five up three decks to Central Park. The journey takes about 20 minutes in total and as it rises and falls, you’ll see a pretty fountain of water underneath. It’s a pretty cool one-off experience but aside from the fact that it goes up and down, there’s nothing exceptional about this bar – the menu is fairly standard with typical cocktails and beers on offer.
Royal Caribbean’s Wipeout is a small bar serving both snacks and drinks that offers fantastic entertainment all day long. By entertainment, we mean the chance to giggle at your fellow cruisers while they try their hand at the fantastic FlowRider which is located right next door. Yes, you guessed it – it’s not called Wipeout for nothing. Aside from the unimpeded views of FlowRider, Wipeout has a good selection of tasty food, all included in the price of your cruise – enjoy pizza, burgers, fries and tacos over a cold beer in the sunshine.
On Holland America’s Veendam, Ryndam, Maasdam, Statendam, Rotterdam and Volendam ships, you’ll find the chic Mix area which is not one bar but three. Here you can choose from ‘Martinis’, ‘Champagne’, or ‘Spirits & Ales’ – whichever takes your fancy. Champagne boasts a staggering twenty different sparkling wines and champagnes from all over the world which can be purchased per glass or bottle. Martinis has 19 different Grey Goose martinis and cocktails on offer; and Spirits & Ales has a great selection of beers (including Newcastle Brown and Guinness), whiskeys and brandies. Aside from the great selection of tipples, there are tabletop games and piano sing-alongs to enjoy.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons and Royal Caribbean Press Center. Credits: Ansik, Jennifer Yin and Royal Caribbean.