For many cruisers, one of the best parts of a sailing is finding a favorite bar and spending time there getting to know the bartender and fellow passengers. The quest for an ideal watering hole is made even more fun when the ship has unique options with well thought out themes, from the interior design often down to the cocktails themselves.
I love a fun and interesting bar, which is what led me to create this list of the best and most unique bars and lounges currently available at sea.
1. Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge
Ship: Disney Wish
Disney Wish is barely out of the gate, and we’re already hyped about the Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge onboard. To be honest, we’ve been psyched for it since Disney first revealed details last spring!
Styled as a luxurious spaceship, this themed bar offers signature beverages inspired by the Star Wars movies, as well as interactive tastings. Virtual “windows” offer glimpses into the vast galaxy, where patrons might catch famous spaceships fly by, and also visit locales like Batuu and Tatooine. As far as watering holes at sea go, this has to be one of the most unique ones thus far!
2. Alchemy Bar
Ships: All Carnival Cruise Line vessels except Carnival Paradise
If you’re a Carnival cruiser who likes a cocktail, you’re almost guaranteed to be in the Alchemy Bar fan club.
This vintage pharmacy-themed bar features a menu divided up into sections including “Energizing Elixirs,” “Relief For What Ails,” and “Passion Potions.” Cocktails are bright and refreshing, made with fresh herbs and other ingredients. If you’re not in the mood for anything on the menu, tell the mixologist what you’d like and they’ll stir up a custom concoction.
3. Sunset Bar
Ship: Celebrity Beyond
Technically a lot of Celebrity ships have the aft Sunset Bar, but none are as spectacular or large as the one on the line’s brand-new Edge-class vessel Celebrity Beyond.
For the first time, the ship features a two-story Sunset Bar, and it’s almost twice the size of the same bar area on other ships. Created by designer Nate Berkus and architect Tom Wright, the globally-influenced, upscale space features conversation alcoves, a pergola-covered entrance, and plush daybeds. It also seamlessly connects to the alfresco dining area of the Oceanview Café buffet below.
4. Blue Eye Lounge
Ships: Ponant’s Le Laperouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville, and Le Dumont-d’Urville
Step into the Blue Eye Lounge, and you’re instantly transported into an entirely new world under the sea, literally — the whale’s eye-inspired space is below the water line.
The multi-sensory lounge features two portholes made of a whopping 18 layers of glass to view the ocean’s flora and fauna, as well as soft blue lighting to complement the underwater atmosphere. If you don’t see much out the windows, there are also cameras installed on the bow and aft, with images projected in this lounge — offering more opportunities to see things like dolphins racing the ship.
Hydrophones are also installed on the ship’s underwater exterior, with the receiving end of the audio in the Blue Eye so that guests can not only see some of the sea creatures, but hear them too. The lounge also includes what Ponant calls “Body Listening Sofas” — which discreetly vibrate in unison with the streaming aquatic acoustics.
The only drinks served in the Blue Eye Lounge are ones that can be poured or made quietly so as not to disturb the serene atmosphere. That means there’s no loud bar equipment — such as blenders or shakers — allowed.
To get a detailed look at Blue Eye Lounge, check out this video from Harr Travel on YouTube:
6. Bionic Bar
Ships: Anthem, Quantum, Ovation, Spectrum, Odyssey, Harmony, Symphony, and Wonder of the Seas
At this point, the Bionic Bar has become a staple on some of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum and Oasis-class ships. The stark, robot-tended bar is just what you might imagine out of a sci-fi flick. Order your beverage on one of many digital tablets around the bar, then watch as the robotic arm selects bottles, shakes, and pours concoctions before your drink slides across the bartop to you.
This isn’t usually a bar that many people become regulars at — given the lack of a human bartender which oftentimes keeps people coming back to the same place — but it’s definitely a must-visit at least once or twice during a sailing.
7. RedFrog Pub & Brewery
Ship: Carnival Vista
Carnival Cruise Line has a few versions of its RedFrog outposts. The most popular are the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and the indoor/outdoor RedFrog Pub, which can be found on most ships in the fleet. Mardi Gras has a two-story RedFrog Tiki Bar by the Lido pool, and Carnival Vista has what we’re going to talk about here — an amped-up version of the RedFrog Pub called RedFrog Pub & Brewery.
This indoor/outdoor venue features a full bar, plenty of table space, live music, table games, and the first-ever brewery on a United States-based cruise ship. That’s right — you can sip a beer brewed right on board. Because of its fun atmosphere and taking the honor of the first U.S. cruise ship brewery, we had to include the RedFrog Pub in this list.
8. Half Moon Bar
Ship: Holland America’s Rotterdam
Rotterdam’s Half Moon Bar is a venue absolutely brimming with history, offering a unique look at Holland America Line throughout the years through the lens of a cocktail — each served with a tale of its inspiration as described in the bar menu.
Drinks on the menu include “The Original,” which celebrates the line’s first ship Rotterdam I; “Three Mile Run,” a prohibition cocktail that tells the story of HAL’s Prohibition-era cruises to nowhere for New Yorkers — where bars on the ship could legally open; and “May She Be Blessed,” an ode to the godmothers who bless each new Holland America ship when she debuts.
Half Moon Bar won “Best Beverage Menu” at the 2022 VIBE Vista Awards, which spans the entire beverage industry with competition including restaurant groups, hotel chains, casinos, and beyond. If you’re sailing Rotterdam, this is a bar not to be missed.
9. Venchi 1878 Chocolate Bar
Ships: MSC Seaside, Seaview, and Seashore
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the spot where I had the best chocolate martini of my life.
These ships have two Venchi outposts: one at the aft offering gelato, and the indoor, larger location offering chocolates, coffees, cocktails, and other delicious treats. Inside, I tried a coffee drink called the Marocchino which was delicious, as well as the chocolate martini which was incredible.
If you’re in the mood for a rich, hot chocolate coffee drink or a chocolate cocktail, do not miss spending some time at Venchi.
10. Eden Bar
Ships: Celebrity Edge, Apex, and Beyond
Step into the lush, light-filled space that is Eden on Celebrity Cruises’ Edge-class ships. The three-story space includes a café, specialty restaurant, plenty of seating, evening entertainment, and what we’re focusing on here — a bar.
The Eden Bar is located on the middle deck of Eden, and features a very unique menu of cocktails made with fresh ingredients — including herbs grown right at the bar in what Celebrity calls its “Library of Plants.” Drinks are made with a plethora of unique ingredients and have vague names such as “Village,” “Garden,” “Fig,” “Shaman,” and “Pea.” But not to worry — below the name, the menu does include exactly what’s in each of these interesting creations.
11. Hook’s Barbery
Ship: Disney Wish
You might be thinking, Why is a barbershop included in a list of bars? That’s a valid question, but that’s exactly what landed Hook’s Barbery in this article.
At first glance, the barbershop wouldn’t look like anything special, aside from the fact that it’s themed after Captain Hook and his ship Jolly Roger from Peter Pan. But explore further, and you’ll see that the barbershop actually has its own bar. There, guests can enjoy whiskey tastings and custom Old Fashioneds — while being pampered at the same time.
If you want to stop by for the bar experience without getting a barbershop service, they allow anyone to come in as long as it’s not too busy.
12. Viking Crown Lounge
Ships: Almost every Royal Caribbean International vessel built prior to 2014 has a Viking Crown Lounge, but the location may vary.
A staple of Royal Caribbean ships for decades, the Viking Crown Lounge is a striking architectural feature that’s a favorite spot for many Royal Caribbean cruisers.
The “in the round” bar and lounge sits atop the ship in view of the lido deck (on most ships), offering panoramic views of the scenery surrounding the ship. By day, it’s a great spot to sip a cocktail and watch the world go by while chatting with friends and family. At night, Viking Crown Lounge lights up with live music, strobe lights, and dancing.
13. District Brew House
Ships: Norwegian Escape, Bliss, Joy, and Encore
Norwegian Cruise Line touts District Brew House as being the first “craft beer hall” at sea. Between bottles and beers on tap, there are over 70 different brews to choose from.
As a non-beer drinker, what I love most about this venue is actually its ambiance and location. I’ve personally been to District Brew House on both Norwegian Joy and Encore, and both times I loved sitting on a couch right by the window. Instead of looking down onto a promenade deck or lifeboat, the view straight down from the windows at District Brew House is the ocean with no obstructions. It’s nice to look down and see the ship slicing through the water from a seat here at nighttime, and it reminds you what a unique spot you’re in: a bar on a ship instead of on land.
Those of you who don’t drink beer but have someone in your group that does, don’t miss a chance to go to District Brew House with them. The menu also includes cocktails on tap, spirits, and ciders, and the atmosphere is well worth it.
14. Rising Tide Bar
Ships: Oasis, Allure, Harmony, Symphony, and Wonder of the Seas
Rising Tide Bar = an elevator bar, essentially. This mobile bar moves up and down between the Royal Promenade and Central Park neighborhoods on all of Royal Caribbean’s mega Oasis-class ships. So if you want to enjoy a beer, wine, spirit, or cocktail and people-watch on multiple ship decks, hop onto the Rising Tide Bar.
15. Red Bar
Ships: Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet and Valiant Lady
Adjacent to the red, black, and white Razzle Dazzle Restaurant is the aptly named Red Bar. You’ll be seeing, well, red after a visit to this watering hole, which features wacky and weird cocktails like goldfish (served in a goldfish-shaped glass), popcorn old-fashioned (served in a container that looks like a popcorn carton), donut tell me, and gym bunny. Fresh-pressed juices, tonics, beers, champagnes, and wines can also be found at Red Bar.
16. Bamboo Room
Ship: Mariner of the Seas
Royal Caribbean calls this Polynesian-themed watering hole a “tiki-chic lounge,” and that name seems fitting given that it’s not a full-blown tiki bar, but not a traditionally sleek cocktail spot, either.
The exotic, colorful hideaway encourages guests to sit and escape for a while, enjoying cocktails made with exotic fruits and spices like the double-rum soaked Banana Colada, Island Old Fashioned, Bamboo Swizzle, and Royal Zombie.
Small plates like Asian noodle salad, Hawaiian BBQ pulled pork sliders, and coconut crab bruschetta are also on offer. Given my love for tiki bars, this is a spot I’d love to see Royal expand onto more ships in the fleet.
17. The Bayou
Ship: Disney Wish
One of the prettiest, and definitely the most lush bar on Disney Wish is The Bayou, inspired by the film The Princess and the Frog.
By day, the spacious lounge plays host to a variety of activities and serves fresh juices, specialty coffees, and cold brew cocktails. By night, the venue is reserved for adults only and features live jazz music, serving beer and wine as well as concoctions such as the New Orleans classic Hurricane, an Absinthe Frappe, and an Orleans Crusta.
Both day and night, guests can also enjoy warm beignets at The Bayou. The upscale spot is the perfect after-dinner place to settle in with some good music, good drinks, and good company.
18. Wonderland Bar
Ships: Quantum, Anthem, Ovation, Harmony, Symphony, and Wonder of the Seas
The Alice in Wonderland-inspired specialty restaurant Wonderland is loved by many Royal Caribbean cruisers. The venue features quirky interior design elements and even stranger food — most of which you’d never be able to identify just by looking at it. It’s a restaurant where you check your serious side at the door and step into a world of whimsy and surprise.
It’s logical, then, that the same rule applies to the restaurant’s adjacent bar. To give you an idea of what’s in store, one of the venue’s mixologists said “We all drink like we all eat: with our eyes first.” Cocktails are magical and fanciful, with names such as Dream Catcher, Helios in the Sand, The Stowaway, and Wondering Ice. At Wonderland, there’s really only one thing to expect: the unexpected.
BONUS: The Golden Jubilee
Ship: Carnival Celebration
The Golden Jubilee is going to be another bar steeped in its cruise line’s history, and I really wanted to include it — but it’s down here as a bonus because, at the time of writing, Carnival Celebration hasn’t even debuted yet.
Earlier this year, Carnival announced that this brand-new bar would be filled with artwork, memorabilia, and original pieces from the line’s earlier vessels.
Examples include an original glass and mahogany partition wall from TSS Mardi Gras, brass and glass nightclub doors from TSS Carnivale that will frame one of the lounge’s entrances, and an original bronze statue of Carnival Founder Ted Arison and Finnish shipbuilder Martin Saarikangas, given as a gift from the Kvaerner Masa-Yards to Carnival when Carnival Sensation was delivered in 1993.
The space will also be home to plenty of seating, live music, and a dance floor. It will offer the most popular cocktails through the decades since 1972 — the year Carnival was founded.