For the past several years, cruise ships have been increasingly tapping into our thirst for tasty craft beers. Yes, the craft beer scene has been a thing on shore for a couple decades, and it’s been huge.
So, it was impossible for cruise lines to ignore. Thus, they have been bringing the best suds out to sea so we can enjoy them on our cruise vacations. No longer do we have to settle for the simple Buds, Coors and Millers. I’m not saying that these aren’t fine options; I also love a cold bucket of Coronas on a hot day by the pool.
But we now have great choices to tempt our taste buds. And craft beer fanatics can really get into trying a wider variety when they hop on the best ships to drink craft beers.
Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista
Carnival Cruise Line made the bold step to put the entire craft-brewing process on these cruise ships. It started with Carnival Vista and its RedFrog Pub and Brewery and continues with Carnival Horizon at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse|Brewhouse.
Each of these ships features a master brewer and full-scale onboard production (brewery tours are available) of special craft beer varieties. RedFrog Pub is a fun bar with foosball, cornhole and other games, as well as bar food to eat alongside beers like ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat, Java Stout and Port Hoppin’ IPA.
On Carnival Horizon, the brew pub is also a barbecue joint in collaboration with celebrity chef Guy Fieri, and you can wash down your meals of awesome ribs, chicken and all the fixins with craft brews like Toasted Amber, Farmhouse Ale, West Coast IPA and Smoked Porter.
Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss
These two Norwegian Cruise Line ships have a hip music and hangout spot called The District Brewhouse. In addition to rocking out to live acts while you sail, this is where you come to work your way through the menu of more than 50 styles of craft beers in bottles and two dozen offered on tap.
The ships are regularly stocked with popular craft beers from all over the United States and the world.
Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Eclipse
Gastrobar offers an upscale pub atmosphere and is a place to enjoy comfort food and bar bites. The venue also features about 40 craft beers that are designed to pair with your foods.
The space is comfortable, too, with plenty of seating, warm brown colors and splashes of light from the outdoors streaming into the windows during daytime. Sports events are displayed on the bar’s flat-screen TVs.
Symphony of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas
Sitting squarely at the intersection of the sports fan and the craft beer fan, Royal Caribbean has designed a hit with its Playmaker Sports Bar and Arcade. The bars feature TVs with all the games (Symphony OTS has more than 30 screens), as well as the standard game-time favorite foods like chicken wings, sliders and nachos.
The ships admittedly have a modest selection of craft beers (7 to 10 on most menus), with Stone IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Steam as the highlights. They also feature all the typical domestics and a few hard ciders. The draw here is the ability to enjoy a good craft beer and watch the games in a great environment among fellow sports fans.
Viking Ocean Cruise Ships
Viking gets special mention for bringing a small selection of craft beers to its ocean ships. These beers enhance the overall Nordic feel of a Viking Ocean Cruises voyage.
The cruise line enlisted a small brewer in Flam, Norway, to offer the flavors of the Viking homelands onboard the ships. Passengers on Viking Ocean cruises will enjoy drinking any of the three delicious Aegir BrewPub varieties: Boyla blonde ale, Ralla amber ale and Aegir IPA.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.