Cocktails and cruises go hand in hand; part of the enjoyment of any cruise vacation for many people is sitting back on a pool lounger or at the aft bar with a fruity concoction in hand.
All cruise ships have the standard umbrella drinks such as margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas, mai tais, mojitos, blue Hawaiians, caipirinhas, planter's punch and more. In addition, cruise ship bars also serve classic pre-dinner cocktails, including martinis, highballs and Manhattans, as well as after-dinner aperitifs and liqueur.
What's changed in the last decade is the breadth and sophistication of cruise cocktails. Mainstream cruise lines have added craft cocktail bars, where bartenders use herbs, bitters, unusual and infused liquor, even raw vegetables and egg whites, to forge new creations.
We can't possibly choose all of our favorite drinks, but here are eight of the best cruise cocktails for you to try the next time you get onboard. Cheers!
Cucumber Sunrise, Carnival Cruise Line
Almost all of the spirits doctored up by the mixologists at Carnival's Alchemy Bar are worth trying. But our favorite is the Cucumber Sunrise. It's made with Belvedere vodka, watermelon nectar, muddled cucumber, fresh-squeezed lime juice and a splash of orange juice. Light and refreshing, it's a great choice for day drinking.
Jalapeno Martini, Holland America Line
Found on ships that have the pan-Asian Silk Den bar, the jalapeno martini adds an extra punch to the typical vodka martini, with olive and jalapeno juice. A garnish of jalapeno-stuffed olives keeps the flavor going.
Norman Love Cocktails, Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises satisfied chocolate-lovers when they teamed up with chocolatier Norman Love to develop "Chocolate Journeys," with its cacao-infused food, drink and spa options. While all of the chocolate cocktails are delicious – it's hard to pass up the S'more Chocolate, with vanilla vodka, Grand Marnier-spiked marshmallows, served in a glass with a pretzel rim -- the Mayan Margarita tempers the sweetness with just a touch of sour.
Coco Loco, Royal Caribbean
Nothing evokes the tropics more than a drink with coconut in it. Coco Loco -- inspired by Royal Caribbean's private island CocoCay but also served on the ships -- fits the bill with coconut cream and coconut rum, as well as orange, pineapple and papaya juices, grenadine and dark rum.
High Tide, Disney Cruise Line
With its focus on families, you might think that Disney suffers in the cocktail department. Not so; mama needs a drink! Our favorite is the colorful High Tide, a mix of Malibu rum, Amaretto, pineapple juice and cranberry juice.
Martini Flight, Celebrity Cruises
Despite its ice-rimmed top, the Martini Bar on Celebrity Cruises is always a hot gathering spot, with passengers lining up to watch the bartenders fling their shakers around. Because the list of creative martinis is too vast to order one by one, we recommend the flight, where you can get six sampler-sized swizzles to try.
Kiss on the Lips, Carnival
Although the Alchemy Bar is outstanding, Carnival has also elevated the fruity pool drink into an art form, with an extensive menu of colorful concoctions. It's hard to miss the bright orange Kiss on the Lips; made with peach schnapps, mango mix and grenadine, the cocktail is one of the line's most popular -- for good reason.
Rebellious Fish, Norwegian Cruise Line
Sometimes a glass just isn't enough to slake your thirst (or keep a buzz going). The Rebellious Fish, made with passion fruit liqueur, orange vodka, orange liqueur, orange juice and sparkling wine, is a colorful classic that's served in an eye-catching fishbowl.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor