“It’s never too early for a cocktail.” Thank Sir Noel Coward for this advice – now you have the perfect excuse to indulge while you’re on vacation.

Cruise lines don’t need an excuse. They have been putting passengers in vacation mode for years with superstar mixologists, themed bars, specialty cocktails and exclusive collaborations.

Cruise Passenger pulled out our cocktail umbrella and cherry on a stick to survey the bars and mixologists menus  – well, someone had to do it!

Now we can bring you the ultimate cocktail guide.

Viking Ocean Cruises, the deluxe cruise line which had the cheapest glass of wine at sea, defends the top spot with the cheapest cocktails at sea as well.

Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line comes in close second and third.

These delicious drinks are generally a third to double the price of a glass of wine, but they are debatably twice the fun and adventure, with each concoction more complex than the next.

Here’s who is serving what:

Viking Ocean Cruises

Prices: US$6.50 to US$7.50 (AU$9.10 to AU$10.50)

The line serves complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board. But they also serve a range of well-priced cocktails that you can enjoy at other times of the day.

The long drinks like Gin & Tonic and Campari/Cynar & Orange start at AU$9.10. Their wide selection of martinis and classics that features international flavours are priced at AU$10.50.

Tuck into a classic like a Dry Martini, or indulge in the Canadian whiskey in a Manhattan, Brazil’s national cocktail the Caipirinha or taste the tropical burst in a Singapore Sling.

Princess Cruises

Prices: $10.25 to $16

Last year, the line released a new drink menu by world renowned master mixologist, Rob Floyd. It features 20 high-end spirits that will be shaken up with other destination-specific ingredients.

The menu is clearly destination inspired with drinks like Mayan Heat, Italian Sunset, Amaretto Manhattan and A Trip to the Tropics.

Try the Princess Punch which has Absolut Elyx vodka, St. George raspberry liqueur, fresh lime, simple syrup,
Gosling’s ginger beer.

The old world maritime themed Wheelhouse Bar which is found across the Princess fleet also has special menus on select ships. The Sea Princess features prohibition era style cocktails, and some ships also have an international whiskey menu.

Carnival Cruise Line

Prices: $10.40 to $13.50

Sip on tropical classics on Carnival Cruise Line such as the Bahama Mama and The Cruiser which features Malibu Coconut Rum combined with the juicy flavours peaches, pineapple and oranges. The general bar menu also has rich Tiramisu and Chocolate Martinis.

The line also has plenty of themed bars on board like apothecary themed Alchemy and Mexican paradise BlueIguana. Head into Alchemy if you require passion potions, energising elixirs, fountain of youth and general cocktail therapy. Else, enhance those vacation vibes at BlueIguana with a Mexican beer cocktail.

BlueIguana Tequila Bar
BlueIguana Tequila Bar

P&O Cruises Australia

Prices: $12 to $22

The line has bars, pubs and nightclubs to suit every taste, from intimate live music found in the Blue Room to the warm and modern Ocean Bar.

Try the Pink Ginger Cosmopolitan, Lucky 17, a mix of Lillet Blanc, apple, lemon and elderflower, or seek out the P&O Tiki Special – Toasted Mai Tai, a refreshing citrus combined with house made toasted almond syrup.

You can also find exclusive venues with specialty drink menus such as The Explorer Hotel and on the Pacific Explorer, an exclusive speakeasy cocktail bar, The Bonded Store.

The bar features the handcrafted spirits of Sydney-based Archie Rose Distilling Co. which uses a selection of traditional and native botanicals to craft their spirits.

The menu at The Bonded Store is slightly pricier, starting from $13.50, but it is all worth it as the bar serves up stronger cocktails with their range of specialty vodka, gin and whisky.

Sip on their cocktail as you unwind in the plush armchairs of the quirky vintage bar.

The Bonded Store on Pacific Explorer
The Bonded Store on Pacific Explorer

Norwegian Cruise Line

Price: US$8.95 to US$12.95 (AU$12.53 to AU$18.13)

20% gratuity and beverage service charge will be added to your check.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a whopping 22 bars and lounges across the fleet, each with its own character. Taste topmast libations like Rebellious Fish which features Russian Standard vodka, Chinola Passion Fruit, Cointreau, orange juice and Prosecco.

The Pineapple Rum Champ by World Class Finalist in the Top Bartender’s Competition, Marc McArthur, is also on the menu.

The biggest bargain to be had is the daily specials at the pool bar. The line features a different drink at a special price of US$8.95 (AU$12.53) daily.

For themed bars and special menus, check out Sugarcane Mojito Bar, which is dedicated to a selection of 10 mojitos. If you can’t decide on one, they have Mojito Flight, which is a sampler six of their drinks. This tempting option is priced at US$19.95 (AU$27.90).

Mojito sampler on NCL
Mojito sampler on NCL

Cunard Line

Prices: US$9.50 to US$13.95 (AU$13.30 to AU$19.53)

A 15% gratuity is added to your bar charges and dining room wine account.

Cunard is home to Gin & Fizz which houses a massive range of premium gins from all over the world, including the ‘3 Queens Gin’ which is crafted exclusively for Cunard.

The exclusive gin is created in small batches in collaboration with Pickering’s Gin in Edinburgh. Explore their gin menu that is categorised according to flavour notes, along with a suggested tonic and garnish pairing.

Gin & Fizz on Cunard
Drumshambo Gunpowder gin from Ireland

The line’s love for international spirits and liqueurs is also found in the Yacht Club menu, which has signature cocktails featuring Japanese sake as well as old fashioneds featuring the Spanish sherries of Williams & Humbert.

Royal Caribbean

Prices: US$9.95 to US$14 (AU$14 to AU$19.60)

Royal Caribbean adds an 18% gratuity charge to each drink order.

The general bar menu which can be found at all pool bars offers classic cocktails US$9.95 (AU$14), and premium cocktails US$13 (AU$18.20).

The menu categorises cocktails according to their featured spirits. Try the whisky-based Kentucky Burgundy, a concoction of Maker’s Mark, crème de cassis, fresh lime and strawberry mix. Hennessy lovers can go straight for the Hennessy Black Bull.

Schooner bar on Royal Caribbean
Nautical themed Schooner bar

The line’s nautical themed piano bar, Schooner bar, offers traditional cocktails, twists on cocktail classics such as the Collins and Daiquiris as well as a selection of old fashioneds.

They have spicy Habanero & Grapefruit Daiquiri, and Lavender Daiquiri if you prefer an elegant floral finish, whatever tickles your fancy!

Oceania Cruises

Prices: US$10 to US$15 (AU$14 to AU$21)

Oceania Cruises has a generous selection of cocktails in their bar menu.

Pick from the signature cocktails like Ginny Hendricks and the all times favourites like Harvey Wallbanger as well as long drinks.

Included in the menu are also crème cocktails like Wimbledon, which is concoction of Bacardi Dark Rum, Banana Liquor, Heavy Cream and Strawberry Mix.

Most cocktails are priced at AU$14 to AU$16.8 but the exclusive Oceania cocktail comes at a higher price tag of AU$21 and features flavours like Maracujá Puree, Watermelon Liquor, Orange Curacao, Absolut Vodka, Cranberry Juice and Passion Fruit Syrup.

You can also find bars with specialty menus like Martinis on Oceania’s R-class and O-class ships.

Try the line’s signature martini The Big “O”, which is also available in the general bar menu or head straight for the 007. Remember, shaken, not stirred.