We’ve been searching for how many types and styles of bars and lounges there are at sea – and there’s a lot! So we decided to come up with a short list of our Fab Five favorites. There seems to be a never-ending and wide range of choices for that pre-dinner cocktail, a nightcap, glass of bubbly, or a classic aperitif accompanied by music. There are al fresco spots, sunset bars, sugar-cane mojito bars, bionic bars and more. Champagne lounges, sports bars, draft-ale venues, pubs, jazz bars, wine bars, even a molecular bar and of course, the perennial and always popular martini bar!
We also discovered an amazing array of décor and design and most importantly, flavors and tastes prepared by talented bartenders and mixologists with a bar for literally every mood and occasion. It was hard to choose just 5 but here they are.
CELEBRITY CRUISES SERVING UP MAGIC MARTINIS
The fabulous, chic and sophisticated Martini Bar and Crush on every ship in the classic fleet on Celebrity doesn’t just offer a martini – each one ensures a performance along with your favorite and tasty, shaken or stirred Martini. The talented bartenders will twirl your shaker, throw it in the air, stack a tower of shakers and then pour from that tower into a pyramid of glasses on the ice-topped bar. Their prowess is legendary and adds to the fun atmosphere at this very popular spot in the center of the ship. Try a chilled peartini or ask your server for a surprise concoction from their rare vodka collection. This is the spot to see and be seen on a Celebrity cruise.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE – THE COOLEST BAR AT SEA
Three ships in Norwegian’s fleet, the Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic offer a totally chilly experience at sea with the Svedka Ice Bar. This intimate venue, where patrons don a parka with a faux fur hood and gloves to stay warm (as the temp is about 17˚F/-8.3˚C) is one icy spot – but it’s a cool experience too! The bar itself, tables and stools are all ice – and warning, so are the glasses. Pay a small cover charge for a 45-min stay and 2 included cocktails and you’ll feel as if you are in the midst of the Northern Lights in a colored hue of blue, green and purple. Try the Cobalt Blue cocktail, a mix of famed Inniskillin Canadian ice-wine mixed with vodka, club soda and blue curaçao while you enjoy the brisk atmosphere. Perfect for a romantic snuggle too.
DISNEY IS IN THE PINK
Only found on Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream this sparkly and stylish, adults-only bar has been designed to look like the inside of a Champagne bottle. It’s also pink. Really pink! Decorated with pink plush chairs, pink bubble lights and light fixtures reminiscent of Champagne flutes this intimate space really makes you think pink. But it’s not over the top; in fact, it's quite charming. You also just might catch a glimpse of an array of pink elephants from the beloved Disney movie, Dumbo, dancing in the lighted glass bubbles which adorn the walls. Champagne and Champagne cocktails are, of course, the drinks of choice. But you can also order sparkling wine, mixed drinks, single malts and fine cognacs. Champagne cocktail options include favorites, such as the renowned Bellini, as well as more inventive drinks that include Elderberry cocktails. There’s even a Champagne Tasting which you might want to accompany with an order of caviar.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN’S UNIQUE RISING TIDE BAR
Sipping Champagne or your favorite cocktail as you gently rise up from Deck 5 to Deck 8, is one of the neatest bar experiences on three Oasis Class ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Start your journey from the bustling Royal Promenade at the heart of the ship and hop on to the Rising Tide Bar which holds just 32 guests. It will be your first drink in an “elevator”, which then slowly moves through the ship, till it emerges in the middle of the Central Park neighborhood. It’s great for people watching and a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous Promenade and so much fun you’ll likely want to take a return journey back down. Each way, it’s about 15 to 20 minutes and offers something a little different as you sip your chosen beverage and watch the ever-changing scenery. The signature drink on Rising Tide is the Blue Lychee Martini – try one.
CARNIVAL’S ALCHEMY BAR – WIZARDRY AT SEA
The vintage-themed Alchemy Bar found onboard 12 Carnival Cruise Line ships, offers a new take not just on your cocktail but also the atmosphere in which you’ll enjoy it. Sip on your chosen libation in a version of a drugstore with an "Olde Apothecary" theme, featuring expert bartenders and mixologists in lab coats and a dark wood bar decorated with apothecary jars. They'll write you a prescription to ward off any manner of ailments with elixirs, potions and such. A variety of unique ingredients help you concoct your own cocktail and despite its old-time feel, on some ships there are modern technology touches with menus being illuminated e-readers.
Written by Vanessa Lee. Originally published in Dream Voyages Spring 2018 issue.
Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean & Carnival Cruise Line