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Holidays offer many wonderful experiences, but the simple pleasure of sitting back with a tasty beverage in atmospheric surrounds while shooting the breeze with friends and strangers is definitely one of the greatest. And the better the atmosphere and tastes available, the more animated we become. So if joyfully exploring the many dimensions of human experience – with your tongue lubricated, your eyes stimulated and your ears sonically elevated – is important to you, why not cruise on a ship with a really good bar?

Cruise ships bars fall into range of categories. There are piano bars, jazz bars, sports bars, martini bars, champagne bars, cigar bars, coffee bars, sun deck bars, English saloon-style bars, wine bars … and bars that are arguably a category unto themselves.

Here are some of our favourites:

A league of their own

Cruise ships these days have been using technological innovations to deliver some truly unique bars.

Ice Bar

If you’re looking for something different in a bar, the Ice Bar on Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Norwegian Epic is probably for you. Kept at a temperature of -8.5°c, passengers are decked out like Eskimo druids in flowing black and white fake fur coats with fluffy hoods and gloves and introduced to a frozen fantasy: walls, stools and tables are made out of blocks of ice, the bar is ice and there are quality life-sized ice sculptures of animals and mythological creatures ­­­– this bar is entirely made out of ice! Combine this bewildering fact with the delicious cocktails served and you have a bar that is never short on fun and conversation.

Rising Tide Bar

The Rising Tide Bar on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas equally defies categorisation. This space age venue slowly moves up and down between the Royal Promenade on deck eight and Central Park on deck five, providing ever-changing scenery as you drink and share your life story.

Sun Deck Bars

When the sun is out or the night sky is filled with a thousand lights, there is nothing better than a bar without walls and at least a minimum of roof cover.

Tropical Bar

The indoor-outdoor tropical bars on Star Clippers’ tall ships are the perfect location for tropical cruise libations.  The timber bar, stools, floor and tables provide a warm earthy aesthetic as sails billow overhead, bar staff attend to your every need and sunshine soothes your body and soul. And really, can you think of a better way to enjoy a drink and convivial conversation than on the deck of a luxurious sailing ship surrounded by blue skies, crystal waters and lush coastal scenery?

Wine Bars

If you can’t wax lyrical without a glass of wine in hand, cruise ship wine bars will be your preferred drinking location.

Vintages

For the best wine bar experience we recommend Royal Caribbean International’s Vintages on Vintage-class, Freedom-class and Oasis-class ships. With dim lighting and vintage furniture (including Chesterfield couches) these bars ooze old world charm. An extensive menu featuring wine from the best regions in the world excites and overwhelms, while wine tastings and sample menus quickly assist you to find the perfect drop.

Champagne Bars

Champagne bars have been a feature of cruise ships for a long time, but that doesn’t take away from their appeal. Champagne is synonymous with celebration and style and champagne bars are no exception. On most ships, Champagne bars are elegant and sophisticated locations, a place to look your best and celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or nothing more than your holiday, in style.

Veuve Cliquot Bar

The best of these would have to be the Veuve Cliquot Bar on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. The cruise line teamed up with the premium Champagne brand Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin to deliver a beautifully appointed bar supplied by one of the worlds oldest and most celebrated Champagne houses.

Piano Bars

An evening of celebration is nothing without music, and quality live music always takes the festivities to another level. Piano bars, which can be found on most big cruise ships, are often trendy and fun and often a little silly – as the night progresses and the crowd starts to sing along.

Carnival’s Piano Bars

The piano bars on Carnival Cruise Line’s cruise ships very rarely fail to please. The pianists are of the highest calibre, the atmosphere is always up and the revolving piano stage is a quirky kind of gimmick that it is hard not to enjoy.

All Those Bars

Judging a bar is like judging music: objectivity is rarely achieved. And with numerous bars on every cruise ship and hundreds of cruise ships sailing, we are bound to have missed one of the greats. But a good bar, you’ll agree, is an essential part of an enjoyable cruise. So before you book your next cruise, picture yourself in the perfect cruise ship bar… then find it.