Last updated: 05:08 PM ET, Sun November 01 2015

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  • Amber Nolan | November 1, 2015 5:08 PM ET

    10 of the Best Cruise Ship Bars

    10 of the Best Cruise Ship Bars

    PHOTO: Royal Caribbean's Bionic Bar. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

    There are plenty of bars on oceangoing cruise ships but they often look — and feel — very similar. However, cruise lines are becoming more innovative, transforming traditional spaces into featured attractions. Here are 10 unique, passenger-favorite watering holes on major cruise ships that are serving up a good time.

    Carnival’s Redfrog Pub

    The Redfrog Pub is a “Floribbean” inspired pub with live music, Caribbean cuisine, and a laid-back island vibe. Tropical cocktails like a Caribbean colada (dark rum, vanilla rum, banana, coconut, and pineapple), a selection of rums from across the Caribbean and the Thirsty Frog Red signature beer set the stage for a carefree experience.

    Celebrity’s Martini Bar and Crush

    A chilled bar counter with 100 vodkas from around the world, as well as caviar and vodka tastings make this bar a welcome addition to Celebrity Cruises. Patrons can order everything from a lychee martini to a sensual raspberry-pineapple “flirtini,” and then watch seriously talented bartenders put on a martini-pouring show.

    NCL’s Svedka Ice Bar

    NCL’s famous frigid bar first debuted on the Norwegian Epic, and has now expanded to include Getaway and Breakaway (although menus vary at each). Drinks have a chilly element, like the Polaris, a blend of Inniskillin ice wine, SVEDKA citrus vodka and lemon-lime soda. Other “cool” features include an icy throne, as well as drink glasses and bar stools made of ice. The room stays a chilly 17 degrees, so bundle up!

    Royal Caribbean

    When strolling along Royal Caribbean’s Central Park you may spot what looks like an oversized, egg-shaped elevator. Rising Tide Bar spans three decks and rises above the shops and restaurants of the park — making it a perfect people watching spot. The “first moving bar at sea” is available on Oasis-class ships.

    NCL’s Bier Garten

    Relax with a traditional brew and enjoy the breeze at the Norwegian Star’s Bier Garten. The open-air lounge has a canopy tent roof for shade and overlooks the pool area and the ocean — making it an ideal base for the sail away festivities.

    Carnival’s Alchemy

    Alchemy is a sophisticated bar with knowledgeable mixologists (who they call pharmacists) and a clever cocktail menu. Expect favorites like “Forty is the New Twenty,” (a blend of pomegranate liqueur, cranberry, SKYY Vodka, and citrus), or a spicy chipotle pineapple martini. The bar offers a popular martini tasting and passengers can also create their own customized “prescription” for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Alchemy can be found on eight of Carnival’s vessels.

    Cunard’s Golden Lion

    A regal British ship needs a classic British Pub, and the Golden Lion has everything for a casual evening. Try your luck with darts, watch the game on the “telly,” enjoy a frothy pint like London Pride and Old Thumper or a Strongbow cider. The bar also serves up dining favorites like steak and onion pie, fish and chips, and bangers and mash. 

    Princess’ Seaview Bar

    On the Royal and Regal Princess, the Seaview Bar is located on the 16th deck by the gorgeous fountain pool and features bottle-juggling bartenders. Water views surround the space, and the 128-foot glass-bottomed walkway adds another exciting vantage point.

    Royal Caribbean’s Bionic Bar

    Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class ships showcase Bionic Bar, a futuristic concept that consists of robot arms that slowly mix, shake and pour cocktails. Passengers order their favorite cocktails like “Galactic Melon” (Midori, Absolute, and pineapple) or “Clone Me” (Southern Comfort, peach schnapps, and Coca Cola) on a touch screen and pick them up from the robotic bartenders. The downside is the robots can’t tell funny bar stories or listen to a customers’ woes.

    NCL’s District Brew House

    Mirroring the trendy microbreweries that have been cropping up across the U.S., the District Brew House is Norwegian’s coolest new watering hole that beer aficionados will love.

    Debuting on the Norwegian Escape, the District has 50 bottled beers and 24 draft beers including Wynwood Brewing Company, a local Miami brewery. There’s also Maisel and Friends pale ale or chocolate porter, and fresh, “grown up” cocktails like “Funky Monk” (Hendricks gin, Chartreuse, Luxardo Maraschino, and fresh lime juice).

    For snacking, try the lobster rolls or chorizo and goat cheese dates. Brick walls add a warehouse feel to the pub, and live music gets things pumping. 


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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