Cheers! Royal Caribbean and Celebrity restart cruises with new drink menus

Jul 7, 2021

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Cruises were locked down for more than a year, but that doesn’t mean the lines were taking a break.

In addition to completing new builds, refurbishing existing ships and leveraging technology to make sailings safer, Royal Caribbean Group’s brands have also kicked their food and beverage offerings up a notch.

On my last two sailings — Celebrity Apex out of Greece and Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas out of Miami — both ships offered a selection of new beverages that impressed even this self-described lightweight.

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Celebrity’s new Eden drinks

On Celebrity Apex, Eden — a multipurpose space that houses a bar, lounge, deli and small theater space — ditched the Edenist performers found on sister ship Celebrity Edge in favor of more traditional (but still quirky) song-and-dance shows that change each night.

The Love Potion No. 9 cocktail from Eden on Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex cruise ship (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

To complement the shows, the ship also rolled out a menu of seven new drinks. Most are pleasantly sweet in contrast to the original Eden menu’s drinks. The originals are still available and continue to be heavy on the dry, smokey finishes. And they’re still eye-wateringly expensive (albeit less so with Celebrity’s new Always Included basic drinks package, which knocks $9 off the price of each).

Of the seven new drinks, I tried three:

Love Potion No. 9: A concoction of pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, bourbon, Cochi Americano, pineapple juice and Tiki bitters is just the right amount of sweet and is served in an Erlenmeyer flask.

Vanilla High Voltage and The Equator cocktails found at Eden on Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex cruise ship (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

The Equator: Combining lime juice, simple syrup, vodka, blue Curaçao, orange Curaçao and aquafaba (leftover liquid from cooked legumes), this drink resembles the blue of the waters surrounding many Caribbean islands. It’s topped with a lemon peel and sage garnish that looks like a sailboat.

Vanilla High Voltage: Coffee lovers, rejoice! Less sweet than you might expect, this high-class beverage will give you a jolt with vanilla vodka, Kahlua, espresso, vanilla syrup and Baileys.

Royal Caribbean’s new cocktail menu

On Freedom of the Seas, the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail from a U.S. port in more than 15 months, the line’s food and beverage team has introduced a new drinks menu that’s used at about 60 to 70% of bars on all ships and features 21 new cocktails inspired by the region, including five that are nonalcoholic and six that fall under the line’s “Taste of the Caribbean” menu.

Click this image to see the full menu. (Screenshot courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

(Click the image above to see the full menu.)

“We spent the time while we were out of service really thinking about food and beverage,” said Linken D’Souza, vice president of food and beverage for Royal Caribbean Group (which operates both Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International). “So we did this Caribbean walk-through, and we chose some of the best drinks from around the Caribbean.”

“Taste of the Caribbean is an idea that was born during the shutdown,” said Ed Eiswirth, director of beverage operations for Royal Caribbean Group. “We are Royal Caribbean, so we should represent the Caribbean everywhere we go.”

Of the 21 new cocktails, I was able to try six, which draw heavily from the islands Royal Caribbean’s ships visit:

Passion Spritz: This combination of Aperol, vodka, passion fruit syrup, lemon juice and sparkling wine is the line’s bubbly, fruity take on an Aperol spritz.

Strawberry Blonde: Tito’s vodka, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, strawberry, lemon juice and fresh mint mix to create a refreshing and lightly sweet drink that’s perfect for a day by the pool.

Painkiller: The second-strongest of the bunch that I tried, this trademarked recipe from Jost Van Dyke’s Soggy Dollar bar in the British Virgin Islands includes Pusser’s rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, coconut syrup and nutmeg. It’s sweet-meets-savory in the best way.

A selection of ungarnished drink samples from Royal Caribbean’s new beverage menu (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Shirley Ginger: This nonalcoholic twist on a traditional Shirley Temple scraps cola in favor of ginger ale. Toss in orange juice, grenadine and lime juice, and you’ve got a refreshing drink that starts off a bit tart and ends with a sweet finish.

Blueberry Nojito: This slightly sour but mostly sweet zero-proof beverage includes blueberry purée, lime juice, simple syrup and mint for a taste that Eiswirth describes as a “blueberry Sour Patch Kid.”

Rum Punch: A tribute to the island nation of Barbados, which Eiswirth said was a great help to Royal Caribbean during the shutdown, this classic (and super-strong) drink features Captain Morgan and Bacardi rums, passion fruit and guava syrups, pineapple juice, lime juice and is topped with Kraken spiced rum.

“With everything we do, we want to be familiar but also have some innovation,” D’Souza said, noting that passengers who are fans of more traditional drinks, such as piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris, can still order them at just about any bar on board.

Featured photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy.

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