From bionic bars to apothecary-inspired bars, these days there are plenty of cool places to imbibe at sea. But the chillest of them all may just be the Svedka and Inniskillin Ice Bar on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway, and Norwegian Getaway.
Here, you pay a $20 fee for a 45-minute time slot in the bar, which is kept at a cool 17 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Included in that price are a loaner parka (complete with furry hood), loaner gloves, and two frosty cocktails, many of which are made with Svedka vodka or Inniskillin, a Canadian ice wine. (Never had ice wine? It's sweet, thick, and delectable. We highly recommend it. It's also very expensive, so this is a great place to try it.) Cocktails include a Rockettini, which is a colorful blend of Svedka Citron vodka, Cointreau, and blue Curaçao; and the Central Park, a mix of Svedka Citron vodka, Inniskillin ice wine, and lemon-lime soda.
When it's your turn, you (and the other 19 people in your time slot) gear up before heading into the bar. If you've spent the day in your bathing suit by the pool, it can be jarring to suddenly be cloaked in winter clothes. (And if you've spent the day by the pool, you should probably blow-dry your hair and change into long pants if you've brought any. You'll be more comfortable dry and in layers.)
The parkas make for nice selfies, but definitely take them before you enter the bar; the neon blue light inside casts an eerie hue on everyone.
Still, once you enter the chilly chamber, it's really something to see. Those 45 minutes pass quickly in a flurry of selfies and shivering, and if you're a slow drinker you'll want to be mindful of the time. The bars, glasses, walls, and benches are all made of ice, just as they are in authentic Scandinavian ice bars. The decor — mostly themed ice sculptures — is also frozen.
One caveat: Reservations must be made on board, so if getting a certain time slot is important to you, book as soon as you board the ship. The bar is only open 5 pm to midnight, and the more coveted spots fill up fast. We like going after dinner — but then again, so does everyone else.