Last updated: 05:01 PM ET, Fri April 01 2016

7 Cruise Lines to Enjoy Craft Beer at Sea

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Carnival Cruise Line | Jason Leppert | April 01, 2016

7 Cruise Lines to Enjoy Craft Beer at Sea

Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

All around the world, craft beer is eclipsing mass-produced brews, and even cruise lines are taking note of the popularity. Of course, mainstream domestic and imported bottled beer and the occasional variety on tap can be found on cruise ships everywhere, but I’m here to talk about the special ones, brewed to perfection at microbreweries, nano-breweries and now even directly onboard.

It’s Friday, and it’s five o’clock somewhere, so let’s take a look at five cruise lines to enjoy a crafted cold one.

Carnival Cruise Line

Fading now is the perception of Carnival Cruise Line as a booze cruise, but that doesn’t stop the Fun Ships from having, well, a little fun with its beers. In fact, along with the fleet’s RedFrog Pubs and Rum Bars comes the line’s own signature beer – ThirstyFrog Red, poured on draft.

The line playfully describes the drink on its menu as follows: “Every frog has his story. Every story has its beer. And The Frog’s Custom Brew is light, yet bold. Clean, yet frothy. Making it the perfect partner for whatever story you’re about to tell.” And you can literally spice it up a little with Red’s Beer Cocktail, ThirstyFrog Red mixed with Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum.

If that’s not enough, the line’s newest Carnival Vista will be the first in North America to feature a full-fledged brewery at sea, and Carnival just announced the lineup of beers that will be brewed onboard. The RedFrog Pub & Brewery is teaming up with Concrete Beach Brewery (pictured above) to craft a trio of new beers to join ThirstyFrog Red – ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA, ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat and FriskyFrog Java Stout.

Carnival describes ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA as, “offer[ing] aromatic, floral and hoppy notes with passion fruit and citrus overtones;” ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat as, “an unfiltered lager with aromas of bananas and spices” and FriskyFrog Java Stout as, “a take on a traditional stout, rich and creamy with hints of coffee.”

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises hopped (pun intended) on the beer bandwagon when it began offering a wide selection of international bottles in the handsome Michael’s Club. Now that the lounge has been repurposed as a private venue for suite guests and top tier loyalty members, the premium line’s attention turns to its Gastrobar, aboard the Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Eclipse.

The Gastrobar is home to comfort food like a la carte priced gourmet dishes and bar bites, as well as a continuing ample choice of 40 boutique beers. Craft varieties range from California-sourced Anchor Steam to Oregon-sourced Rogue Chocolate Stout.

Crystal Cruises

The inclusion of luxury line Crystal Cruises on this list may come as a surprise, but indeed it is featuring craft beer onboard with special Crystal Wine & Food Festival theme cruises, the first of which I personally had the pleasure of sailing on.

Onboard, special guest lecturers elevate the beer tastings – included beer tastings, mind you – as beer experts Stephen Beaumont and Victoria Tonini took to the stage to guide us on a sudsy journey. Anthony Caporale treated us to beer cocktails, and chef Jon Ashton, along with Beaumont, paired fine dining with some of the world’s rarest and most coveted beers at a very specialty limited dinner that featured the hard-to-find Samuel Adams Utopias.

To mark your own calendars for a luxurious beer experience, Crystal is embarking again with Beaumont on another craft beer festival cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity roundtrip from New Orleans, Louisiana to the Caribbean for two full weeks on Nov. 22, 2016.

Norwegian Cruise Line

When Norwegian Cruise Line introduced its first Breakaway Plus-class ship – the Norwegian Escape – it debuted with several new dining and drink venues, one of which is The District Brew House, a shipboard hole-in-the-wall with great scenic views forward of The Waterfront al fresco boardwalk.

Here, over 50 bottled beers and an impressive 24 draft beers are served up, featuring the brews of Miami’s craft Wynwood Brewing Company. Once your beer is in hand, you can stay awhile to also enjoy the comfortable seating and casual atmosphere, to the tune of live music, before having your photo taken at the bar’s fun picture booth.

Princess Cruises

In celebration of the line’s 50th anniversary last year, Princess Cruises introduced its first house beer – the Seawitch West Coast IPA, named after the company’s iconic logo. The bottled beer is crafted in partnership with Strike Brewing Company, described by the line as having a, “balanced aroma of lightly roasted malt and barley which is strongly accented by the crisp dry flavor of a unique hop blend.”

The line has since rolled out the additional Seawitch Blonde from Shipyard Brewing Company and Seawitch Denali Red from Denali Brewing Company, as featured in The Salty Dog Gastropub, new onboard the Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess. Here you can enjoy one of the three signature beers with The “Ernesto,” easily one of the best gourmet burgers at sea from titular chef Ernesto Uchimura.

Royal Caribbean International

Last but not least, Royal Caribbean International showcases Michael’s Genuine Pub on its latest Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, home to chef Michael Schwartz’ a la carte-priced comfort food and Michael’s Genuine Home Brew classic American ale.

Other craft beer available here include a total of 18 choices like the above, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale from California and Bluepoint Toasted Lager on tap. You can even get your fruit flavors on with J.K.’s Scrumpy Hard Cider Farmhouse Organic from Michigan.

Un-Cruise Adventures

For an entirely different kind of cruise experience and beer theme sailings, Un-Cruise Adventures has five upcoming small ship itineraries dedicated to craft beer aboard the Wilderness Discoverer in the Pacific Northwest for 2016 and 2017.

Featured along the way are beer experts and brewers, culinary pairings, excursions, presentations, tours and, of course, tastings. Scheduled to be aboard in 2016 are Kim and Kendall Jones on April 30, Nate and Becca Schons on Oct. 8 and Boe Trosset on Oct. 22. Plus, two more special sailings extend into 2017.


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