You hear it all the time: size doesn’t matter. Well, I’m here to tell you that in the world of Caribbean cruise ships, it does; especially for those of us who enjoy an adult beverage or two at sea. To prove my theory, I’ll use Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and biggest ship—Carnival Vista—as my example.
We have sailed with Carnival several times, always on different ships, affording us a nice snapshot of its Caribbean cruises. By mixing new establishments, like the RedFrog Pub and Brewery, with popular favorites from its fleet, Carnival Vista takes the onboard bar experience to the next level. Stepping onto the cruise ship for the first time feels like arriving in a new neighborhood. Each bar has its own vibe and dedicated bartenders, encouraging exploration to find that one place (or three) on the ship where everybody knows your name.
With more than a dozen bars and lounges on the Carnival Vista, you’ll never be far from your favorite libation. These are our five favorite places to have a drink on the cruise ship.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar
A staple on every Carnival cruise ship we have been on, the BlueIguana Tequila Bar is a tiki-bar on the Lido Deck around the main pool area. When we want to try new cruise cocktails, this is where we go. Each day brings a new drink special, making it a fun way to try one of the Blue Iguana’s colorful libations. Furthermore, if you sit off to the left side of the bar, you’ll have a great ocean view from your bar stool.
Related: 26 Cocktails and Tips for Your Next Cruise
Our happy place is a half-shell cabana on the Serenity deck after a day snorkeling in Grand Turk. Add in an ice-cold craft beer and a cheeseburger and fry plate from Guy’s Burger Joint, and, well, it’s pretty much heaven. Serenity, an adult-only area on Carnival cruise ships, is always one of our favorite spots on Carnival cruise ships. It always has the best loungers, and Vista’s incarnation is the finest yet. By adding a full-size bar, realistic looking faux palm trees, and a hip electronic soundtrack to the mix, Serenity now feels like a stylish Miami rooftop lounge, without the cost, of course.
Jersey City (think: a citrus Manhattan) and Gin and Tonic 2.0—ever heard of these cocktails before? Probably not, since Gabriel, one of the Vista’s mixologists at the Alchemy Bar, made them personally for us. After asking us a few questions about what we liked to drink, Gabriel went to work and he knocked it out of the park, so much so, that Beth said it was one of the best drinks she has had in years. In addition to improvising drinks, the Alchemy Bar also has a dedicated menu of craft cocktails that will have you coming back for more.
From the moment we entered, we were hooked on the Havana Bar. It pops with color and excitement, even when the Latin quartet isn’t playing. By day, cruisers play dominos and sip Cuban coffee among its vibrant décor. Mixed-match chairs and paintings of people and scenes of Cuba are a hallmark of this intimate club. And when the band takes the stage at night, watch out, the Havana Bar becomes the hottest spot on the ship.
RedFrog Pub and Brewery
Wait, what? A brewery on a cruise ship? C’mon, you have got to be joking. Nope, we’re definitely not. As I type this, there is some seriously good beer being brewed on Carnival Vista. It’s fresh, it’s unfiltered and, best of all, it’s delicious. A first of its kind on a North American cruise ship, the RedFrog Pub and Brewery features German-made fermenters and a three-barrel glass brew house, which enables the brewing process to be viewed easily by the brewer and public. The water for the beer comes from the sea, as it’s filtered through the ship’s onboard desalination and reverse osmosis plant. Brewery tours are available and provide a fun and tasty look at the ship’s brewing process and beer styles. Complete with an island décor, table shuffleboard and foosball tables, as well as huge lanai, the RedFrog Pub and Brewery is one of the coolest additions to the Carnival fleet.
Related: Bobbing for Hops: Sharing Beers in America’s First Brewery at Sea
Bonus Spot: Beer Station
I love this concept. It’s an easy and affordable way to pair a beer with your lunch or dinner in the Lido Marketplace. With multiple beer stations around the Lido deck buffets, guests can pour their own beer (you pay by the ounce), making it the cheapest beer on the ship. The key to a solid pour is to hold your glass at an angle and don’t worry about topping off, as you’ll be paying for the overflow.
With so many bars at your disposal on the Carnival Vista, you’ll be hard-pressed not to cultivate a few favorites. So, our advice to you is to stay calm and get your bar hop on.
What’s the best bar you’ve ever experienced on a cruise? Let us know about it in the comments!
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.