Porthole’s Five Faves
Favorite Beers to Cheers
Lift a glass (or more) to the best suds at sea!
There’s the bubbly you tip back with one hand whilst the other is still wheeling a suitcase to your new cabin home. There’s that white-or-red dilemma just as you sit down for that first dinner. There’s the aperitif you savor before an evening of entertainment, and, of course, there’s the poolside umbrella drink you dream about holding first thing tomorrow morning afternoon. Thankfully, there’s a libation for every vacation occasion, and cruise lines are doing more these days to ensure that our planet’s most delicious beers aren’t left behind. With craft beers being all the rage on land, it’s only right that they’re getting their due at sea, as well whether it’s at an onboard pub, a beer-related shore excursion, or even entire beer-themed cruises.
Specialty Cruise Brews and Pubs
What began as a humble private-label amber draft beer available only in Carnival Cruise Lines’ RedFrog Pub aboard Carnival Magic has become so popular with Carnival cruisers that it’s now pulled on ships across the entire fleet. (Cruisers on Carnival Sunshine can even pour their own cold one at designated self-serve areas.) Legend has it that when the beer premiered on Carnival Magic‘s maiden voyage, revelers finished off the entire supply — which was intended to last the entire cruise — on the very first night. Carnival isn’t the only line to offer its own brew. Disney cruisers can enjoy exclusive American pale ales that share the name of the bars that serve them: 687 (on Disney Dream) and O’Gills (on Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic).
In addition, Carnival cruisers departing from Florida and wanting to get even craftier than ThirstyFrog will have the added bonus of being able to try two popular flavors from up-and-coming Tampa brewer, Cigar City. Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale combines unmalted wheat, orange peel, and coriander to get its spicy finish, while the hoppy Invasion Pale Ale uses peach, mango, lime, and papaya to reach tropical bitterness perfection.
Crystal Cruises’ Microbrew-Themed Cruise
Crystal Cruises’ Boutique Adventures have long provided guests with expert presentations and unique shoreside excursions focused on a number of fields of interest. With its microbrew-themed luxury cruise (aboard Crystal Serenity, from New York to Miami starting November 5), beer-lovers will have the opportunity to visit micro- and nano-breweries and experience historic and limited-run samplings in and around New York and Charleston. Additionally, experts such as author Stephen Beaumont, cicerone Victoria Tonini, chef Jon Ashton, and TV host Anthony Caporale will all be leading presentations the way presentations should be led: with beer!
Un-Cruise Adventures’ Craft Beer Cruises
The Pacific Northwest is an absolute delight for craft beer lovers, and Un-Cruise Adventures is taking advantage of that (and the area’s beautiful scenery) with four upcoming craft beer theme cruises. Depending on which departure you choose — October 2014, April 2015, October 2015, or April 2016 — you’ll get a unique look at the brewing scene with various regional experts and craftsmen/craftswomen.
Celebrity Equinox‘s Gastrobar
Having replaced Cellar Masters on Celebrity Equinox during a recent drydock, Gastrobar is giving guests the opportunity to choose from 40 handcrafted boutique beers as well as comfort food. Additionally, the upscale-yet-casual venue offers tasty cocktails, and is complemented by the new Slush venue offering frozen — and, if preferred, non-alcoholic — cocktails. (Other lines with their own pubs — or at least bars that are closer in spirit to pubs — include Cunard Line, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line.) In September, Celebrity Solstice will be the host ship for the 16th Brews Cruise, which will give Alaska-bound enthusiasts tasting sessions while enjoying several beer-focused excursions.
Refreshing Tastes of Europe
AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways are two river cruise lines giving guests an opportunity to see (and taste) Europe via its gorgeous rivers in 2015. Both lines’ tulip-time cruises showcase the best of the Netherlands, Belgium, and the beers that make them so great. In October, Avalon Expression will depart Vienna before visiting the charming towns of Bavaria, while AmaPrima‘s Christmastime cruise kicks off in Prague and takes thirsty guests through Bavaria, Vienna, and Budapest.