4 Cruise Line Bars Worth Sailing For in 2024


Forget the stuffy piano bars and generic buffets. These standout cruise ship bars have over-the-top themes with zany cocktails — and mocktails — to match.

The vibe inside these cruise ship bars might even be compelling enough to pique the interest of travelers who’ve sworn off cruising. Here are top choices to imbibe on the sea in 2024.

1. Spellbound by Magic Castle

(Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Spellbound by Magic Castle offers a cruise line version of The Magic Castle, an iconic and exclusive club for magicians and magic enthusiasts in Los Angeles.

The Princess Cruises version features magic-themed rooms and theatrical cocktails. For example, the butterfly pea tequila used to make a cocktail called “The Magician” transforms from blue to purple as the server pours it into the glass. In “The Conjuror,” classic ingredients like bourbon, maraschino and agave join with squid ink, which adds a spooky look.

And unlike the Hollywood version — where you need to be a member of the Academy of Magical Arts or a guest of one of its members to enter — anyone can experience this iteration of The Magic Castle (provided you have a reservation, you’ve paid the additional fee to get inside, and you’re at least 13 years old). Admission costs $149 on top of your cruise fare, though it includes dinner and unlimited drinks, according to the Princess Cruises website.

2. Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge

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(Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)

With bartenders serving up mixed drinks like “Spire Sunset” and “Cloud City,” Disney Cruise Line’s Hyperspace Lounge illustrates how cruise lines are incorporating themed experiences to cater to fans — this one specific to “Star Wars” fans. A virtual window into the galaxy shuttles travelers past iconic locales in the “Star Wars” universe, including Tatooine, Mustafar and Coruscant.

The immersive bar experience has proved popular, as there’s often a line to get in — though the line may also have to do with the bar’s small capacity. Only about four dozen people can fit in the intimate lounge at one time. At peak times, customers are asked to limit their stay to just 45 minutes.

While admission to the bar is included with the price of a Disney cruise, you’ll pay extra for drinks (typically about $15 to $20 each).

3. Skyy Vodka Ice Bar

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(Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Though a cruise might evoke the mood of a sunny beach, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Skyy Vodka Ice Bar briefly transports cruisers to frozen temperatures. The bar is made entirely from ice — all the way down to the seating and glasses. And yes, it’s cold inside. The bar is kept at a chilly 17 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Norwegian Cruise Line.

But don’t worry about packing winter garb, as cruisers can borrow gloves and coats to wear inside.

You’ll find the Skyy Vodka Ice Bar on a few Norwegian Cruise Line ships, including Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Epic.

4. Alchemy Bar

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(Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

Themed like a vintage pharmacy, Carnival Cruise Line’s Alchemy Bar serves up both alcoholic and — uniquely, alcohol-free — drinks with labels like “passion potions” and “energizing elixirs.”

In 2023, Carnival teamed up with nonalcoholic spirit distiller Lyre’s to offer the world’s first full range of alcohol-free cocktails (that’s as opposed to a mocktail, which is a beverage that relies on ingredients such as sodas or fruit juices as substitutes for alcohol).

Alchemy Bar taps into a growing trend of reduced alcohol consumption. In fact, the sale of nonalcoholic beer, wine and spirits in the U.S. reached $565 million in 2023, according to NielsenIQ, which tracks consumer behavior. That’s a 35% increase from the year prior.

But whereas mocktails can sometimes cost less than half the price of a cocktail, that’s not the case with Alchemy Bar’s nonalcoholic cocktails. A la carte nonalcoholic drink prices are only a few dollars cheaper than their boozy counterparts. Carnival cruise drink package prices start at more than $70 per day — and that’s whether you opt for alcoholic or nonalcoholic cocktails.

Cruise line bars are just getting started

More themed cruise bars are on the horizon.

When Disney’s newest ship, Disney Treasure, sets sail on its maiden voyage in December 2024, it’ll feature multiple adult-exclusive themed bars. That includes the world’s first Haunted Mansion-inspired bar, as well as a bar called Skipper Society themed to Disney parks’ Jungle Cruise attraction.

While some options, like Carnival’s Alchemy Bar, are a fixture across nearly every ship in a cruise line’s fleet, there’s also a growing trend of one-of-a-kind experiences that double as bars, like Spellbound by Magic Castle. The limited availability and unique offerings might encourage repeat or first-time cruisers.

Plus, bars mean additional revenue for cruises. While some cruise lines are more inclusive than others, it’s rare to find a cruise line that includes unlimited specialty drinks with your cruise fare. In fact, visiting any of the bars above entails an additional charge.

A 2023 NerdWallet analysis of Caribbean cruises found that the average seven-night Caribbean cruise costs $635 per person — but that’s before taxes, port fees and extras (like specialty drinks). Given that, make space in your cruise budget should you want to dive in.

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