“Daiquiri! Mojito! Rum punch! . . . ” shouts a waiter, who walks around a sunny cruise ship deck, trying to be heard above the squeals of children and the chatter of happy vacationers relaxing in lounge chairs.
It's a typical poolside scene aboard most cruise ships, especially those sailing in the Caribbean, the Bahamas or Mexico. For cruise lines, alcoholic beverages provide a very lucrative onboard revenue stream. Fancy cocktails can command upward of $10 apiece, and sometimes more, aboard the mass market and premium lines. On a ship carrying 3,000 or 4,000 people, it adds up.
That's why cruise operators take their cocktail menus seriously: consider Norwegian Cruise Line, which recently partnered with Gabriel Orta (of Miami's Bar Lab Cocktails) to introduce a new summer drink menu for its ships sailing to Bermuda, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska and Europe.
When sailing to Bermuda, for example, Norwegian guests can enjoy a traditional Dark & Stormy, with Bermuda's own Gosling's Rum and ginger beer, or sample a new take on a mai tai, featuring house-made almond syrup, Gosling's Rum and dusted with powdered cinnamon. In Alaska, Norwegian's guests can warm up on a cool night with a Smoky Hot Toddy, combining crème de cocoa, orange peel, cloves, bitters and Grant's Scotch, or a Northwest Java Jump, with Patron XO Café, chai tea and cream.
At Crystal Cruises, the line's mojito and negroni cocktails are guest favorites. “Both are very popular, especially depending on where we’re sailing. All our drinks are made with a mixologist approach, using the freshest ingredients and crafting. Many of our bartenders have been certified in mixology by the U.S. Bartender’s Guild,” says Crystal spokeswoman Susan Wichmann.
According to Vanessa Bloy, spokeswoman for Paul Gauguin, “We have a very popular cocktail called Gauguin Secret, which is a refreshing mixture of vodka, strawberry liqueur, triple sec, orange juice, and sweet and sour mix.”
The recipe possibilities are endless, and cruise lines oblige with a wide variety of tasty combinations. Here's our list of the top 10 cruise ship cocktails on the high seas:
1. Sex on the Beach (MSC Cruises): Vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry liqueur, orange juice
2. Dante's Wine (Celebrity Cruises): Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, red wine, fresh lemon and oranges juices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger sugar
3. Blue's Michelada (Carnival Cruise Lines): A spicy beer cocktail made with fresh lime juice, worcestershire, tabasco and beer in a salt-rimmed glass.
4. Fresh Basil Mojito (Princess Cruises): Bacardi rum, fresh limes and basil leaves muddled with sugar topped with soda
5. Coyote Margarita (Azamara Club Cruises): Cuervo Gold tequila, triple sec, peach with fresh lime and lemon juices
6. Yellowbird (MSC Cruises): Rum, crème de banana, galliano, pineapple orange and lemon juices
7. Collette (Disney Cruise Line): Taittinger champagne and pear vodka garnished with fresh blueberry, dried apricot and mint leaf
8. Coconut Blast (Royal Caribbean International): Cruzan Coconut rum, DeKuyper Pucker Sout Apple, pineapple juice, Red Bull energy drink
9. Carnival Cosmo (Carnival Cruise Lines): Grey Goose vodka, lemoncello and cranberry juice
10. Sailor's Coffee (Celebrity Cruises): Disaronno Originalj Amaretto, Malibu coconut rum, kahlua coffee liqueur, hot coffee, whipped cream