The best bars on cruise ships are more than just places to drink. They’re destinations with atmosphere and attitude—plus creative approaches to sipping.
You can have your drink brewed by a robot or by a human in a chamber maintained at 17 degrees Fahrenheit, in a levitating bar, or while “traveling” through hyperspace.
Whether you’re a fan of the perfect martini or craft beer, or you’re looking for bartenders to whip up molecular cocktails that sizzle or smoke, check out these cruise ship bar favorites.
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Exclusive to Carnival Cruise Line’s 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras, the Fortune Teller features a cool New Orleans vibe. Located in the tall ship’s French Quarter (which is also where chef Emeril Lagasse has his first seaworthy bistro), it offers creative drinks, Victorian decor, and a voodoo vibe. Drinks change color, smoke, or otherwise impress. The crystal ball is topped with a cloudy sphere in which you may or may not see your future after sipping the concoction of Herradura Silver Tequila, Green Chartreuse, Agave Nectar and Lime.
Rising flood bar
On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, this popular bar moves up and down three decks in a slow, 20-minute ride. There is seating for 32 drinkers, who sip on their way between the bustling Royal Promenade and tree-lined Central Park. The popular drink: a kir royale (creme de cassis and champagne). You must be at least 21 years old to ride this elevator.
Related: Are Drink Packages on Cruise Ships Worth the Price?
SKYY vodka ice bar
Who wouldn’t want to don a parka in the Caribbean? On select Norwegian Cruise Line ships, band together for this icy bar, housed in a chamber always kept at 17 degrees Fahrenheit and decorated with ice sculptures and cool colored lights. Bartenders serve vodka drinks on ice and in ice glasses. They even sit on ice.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships, as well as the Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, take the task of preparing drinks from the hands of human bartenders and puts it in the hands, or rather robotic arms, of machines. The robots, with names like Sock ‘Em and Rock ‘Em, can’t make all the drinks in the book, but they can shake a typical Bionic Tea (think Long Island Iced Tea) and push it towards you via a bar at the top. You order your selection by communicating via a smartpad. George Jetson would be impressed.
Related: 8 Best Drinks To Order With A Cruise Ship Drinks Package (And 3 To Avoid)
Popular on most Carnival ships, this bar is themed on a pharmacy — complete with apothecary jars — and is run by specially trained bartenders in lab coats, ready to cure your ailments. You order on a recipe pad, and while there’s a fun menu with categories like Energizing Elixirs and Passion Portions, it’s also a pleasure to simply check off a few of your favorite flavors and see what the bartenders “prescribe” for you.
Sugarcane Mojito Bar
Visit this Havana-style venue with indoor and outdoor seating and live Latin music on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway and Breakaway plus ships. Watch the sunset from the alfresco boardwalk while sipping on unusual mojitos like Spicy Passion, Pineapple Coconut, and Raspberry Guava. If you can’t decide, book a flight that includes a combination of sweet and savory food.
Blue Eye Lounge
You might not expect one of the coolest bars at sea to be on a small ship, but that’s the case on French cruise line Ponant’s Explorer class, the 184-passenger Le Laperouse and her four sister ships. The multi-sensory lounge is below the waterline and features two huge whale eye-shaped portals for observing the sea. The dark room gives you the feeling of being inside a whale, except that it is decorated with elegant “body listening” sofas that gently vibrate to the underwater acoustics. It’s scary, chic and fabulous. Order a martini and pretend you’re James Bond.
Related: How to Get Free or Cheap Drinks on a Cruise
Guy’s Pig & Anchor Brewhouses
At Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, Mardi Gras, and the new Carnival Celebration (debuting this fall), you can enjoy Carnival’s exclusive Parched Pig Craft Brews, crafted by a Brewmaster on each ship. There’s a smoked porter, farmhouse ale, and hoppy IPA, among others. Go with a flight. As if that wasn’t cool enough, you can also take brewery tours and dive into hickory-smoked grilled food by Food Network star Guy Fieri. The RedFrog Pub and Brewery on Carnival Vista also has the beers, but with pub grub.
Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge
Live out Star Wars fantasies in this cozy bar on the new 4,000-passenger Disney Wish. The door slams as you enter, and the bar is designed like a luxurious space yacht ready to jump between galaxies – which it does thanks to projections of outer space onto “virtual” windows and a top-notch, booming sound system. Order Coruscant The Chancellor, a cognac cocktail “enjoyed by the elite of the Senate.”
Pub Golden Lion
On Cunard ships, including the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner, the Golden Lion recreates a real British pub, from dark wood, leather banquettes and stools to darts tournaments and pub quizzes. Sample a wide range of beers and ales, including three craft beers from award-winning British microbrewery Dark Revolution. Or go with a traditional Pimm’s Cup (made with a gin-based liqueur, fresh fruit, and ginger ale). The pub’s menu includes fish ‘n’ chips and bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes).
Located in the 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse’s main lounge, this bar features over 110 wall-mounted bottles of whiskey, all in a floor-to-ceiling display case, backlit for dramatic effect. Among the golden-brown liquids are single malts such as a 25-year-old Glendullan, a 30-year-old Jura The Loch and a 16-year-old Lagavulin. Well-known super-premium blends are represented in a collection that brings together bottles from around the world, including Australia, Japan, France, India, Taiwan, South Africa, the USA, Scotland, Ireland and Sweden. Drinks are included in the cruise fare.
Shhh, that’s one of the best kept secrets on five Holland America ships. The Tamarind Bar, adjacent to the world-class Tamarind Restaurant with Asian fusion cuisine, has a stylish, Asian-inspired décor, panoramic views and fine cocktails with creative ingredients. It’s the perfect place to watch the sun set while sipping on Far East Legacy made with, for example, Absolut Mandarin, Asian Pear Sake, St. Germaine Liqueur, Cointreau and Peach Puree.
Martini Bar & Crush
On most Celebrity Cruises ships, popular martini bars are stylish, hidden areas with a collection of rare vodkas (and optional caviar) served from an ice-topped bar. The bartenders do more than just pour the drinks—they entertain like in the Tom Cruise film, Cocktail, by flipping and juggling cocktail shakers and pouring multiple drinks at once from a stack of shakers. On Edge-class ships, the action shifts to the Grand Plaza under a stunning, color-changing, three-deck-tall light. Go with a dirty martini or a candied apple, with Gray Goose, apple schnapps, pomegranate juice and butterscotch schnapps.
Good mood at sea
Each cocktail at this Princess Cruises bar has a story created in collaboration with the TV series Good Spirits. The drinks are made using spirits and other ingredients from around the world, including farm-fresh, local ingredients from cruise destinations. A mixologist takes care of the preparation and gives detailed explanations. A video screen behind the bar, found on select Princess Cruises ships, gives you an up-close look at the beverage making process. Sample a grappa peach and learn about its Uruguayan origins, or a Bangkok mule made with whiskey, ginger, and lemongrass.
Aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s new 3,099-passenger Norwegian Prima, this sustainability-focused bar specializes in handcrafted, zero-waste cocktails. The idea is to creatively combine surplus ingredients with sustainable spirits. A version of an Old Fashioned, the signature Prima Donna is made with surplus banana peels and Flor De Cana rum, made with 100% renewable energy. There is also a range of responsibly sourced botanical gins and 20 biodynamic wines (produced using organic farming methods).
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