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Cruise Beverages: The Complete Guide to Building Your Menu

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The quality drinks on cruise ships add value and can boost the customer experience like nothing else! Because of that, building an amazing beverage inventory is a must for any cruise line. 

If you are the one responsible for planning out all of the mocktails and great cocktails to be served, you have a lot to consider and plan out. So to make it easier for you, we’ve compiled this cruise beverages guide. 

Let’s start by looking into the classic cocktails and mocktails you can make, as well as the importance of signature cocktails

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Exploring the Greatest Cruise Cocktails and Mocktails

Cocktails are a very popular type of drink to have, especially when out at sea, enjoying the incredible views. To make the whole experience even more enjoyable and memorable for the passengers, make sure these cocktail drinks are on the menu:

  • Piña Colada - An all-time favorite drink for people who need a refreshing drink and love a tropical vibe. It’s a true classic when it comes to rum cocktails
  • Margarita - Look into the best tequila for Margaritas when ordering base liquor. Finish the look of the drink with the classic salty rim but also make sure to serve it in beautiful glassware
  • Mojito - One of the many great rum drinks is Mojito. It’s a refreshing drink many passengers would enjoy around the pool. 
  • Mai Tai - Don’t shy away from experimenting with the garnish of this popular cocktail. Don’t forget how much glassware can affect the way it looks, too.  
  • Martini - You can use either gin or vodka for the Martini recipe. Bartenders should make it according to the customer’s preferences. 
  • Strawberry Daiquiri - A refreshing cruise cocktail, perfect to have while enjoying a vacation. The Daiquiri can be made with several other fruits, too.  
  • Cosmopolitan - The classic Cosmopolitan recipe is now a favorite of many women all over the world. Even if you don’t have it on the menu, be sure that people will be asking for it!
  • Long Island Iced Tea - This refreshing drink with a few different alcohols is a great one to have when trying to fully relax.
  • Old Fashioned - Which cocktail will never go out of style? The Old Fashioned is a drink that people like to order even if they don’t see it in the offers.  
  • Blue Lagoon - Enjoying the blue ocean with a nice blue cocktail in hand sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Cruise Beverages: Classic Moctkail Options 

There’s a great variety of alcohol-free drinks. From non-alcoholic wines and non-alcoholic beers to matcha drinks, infused waters, specialty coffee, etc. But although all these are great, there’s something special about drinking mocktails. Especially so when enjoying a cruise!

Here’s a list of the most popular mocktails you should not forget to add to the menu:

  • Virgin Piña Colada - A nice creamy and tropical treat passengers will love.  
  • Virgin Mojito - A refreshing non-alcoholic drink that will make time around the pool even better. 
  • Virgin Bloody Mary - The non-alcoholic version of the Bloody Mary goes well with all kinds of dishes, so it’s a great drink to serve at restaurants. 
  • Shirley Temple - A true classic among mocktails that must be on your bar and restaurant menu!
  • Virgin Daiquiri - There are a lot of Daiquiri recipes to try with various fruits. Make non-alcoholic versions too, to cater to a wider range of customers. 
  • Mango Tango - This sweet no-alcohol drink will satisfy people with a sweet tooth quite well. 
  • Cucumber Cooler - This cool and refreshing drink makes for great drinks and food pairings
  • Virgin Margarita - For everyone who loves a good Margarita but avoids alcohol for some reason, be sure there’s a Virgin option on the menu. 
  • Tropical Sunrise - Another great tropical and refreshing option to have around the pool or when chilling in the bar.  

Make Special Cruise Cocktails and Mocktails

Having your own, unique cocktail offers is not just a recommendation. It’s a must! These drinks will elevate the experience of your passengers. Turn to a mixologist or cocktail expert to help you create a drink or a few for your bar and restaurant menus.

Consider adding vegan drinks (cocktails and mocktails), as well as coffee beverages with plant-based milk. Gluten-free beverages are another group of drinks to add to the menu so you can cater to a larger audience. 

Build a Great Cruise Ship Wine List

Building a truly great cruise ship wine list takes careful planning, coordination, and a lot of attention to detail. Follow the steps below and you will create a great wine experience for the passengers!

  • Offer a Large Variety of Wines - Focus on getting wine from different regions of the world and ones that will go with the large varieties of dishes you offer. Think about exotic wines, as well as vegan wine and non-alcoholic wines. When you have the wine lists ready, be sure the waiters can explain to customers the notes of the wines and that they can suggest delicious food and wine pairing options.
  • Easy-To-Read List - To make the wine list easy to read it’s important to choose a simple design and easy-to-read fonts. Another great option to try is the use of SproutQR to make a beautiful digital wine list. With our service, you can get the QR codes set up by us, as well as the menu itself. We also provide great templates. Going digital with the wine list will help you save money on reprinting whenever you are out of a certain type of wine. 
  • Wine-By-The-Glass Offers By the glass wines are preferred by many people. But they also have great benefits for the business. They can not only boost the profit margins but also make the cruise beverages program you have, really stand out.
  • Sourcing Wine - Take your time when researching wineries and types of wine. It will pay off greatly in the long run when you have a nicely curated wine list of unique, tasty wines.
  • Choosing a Winery or Distributor - Even if you start your research from the best US wineries, it doesn’t mean you will have all your needs met. Don’t limit yourself to a handful of options. Choose wineries and distributors that offer great wine but also great communication. 
  • Gather Feedback - Use historical data to determine whether people liked a certain type of wine or not. Word of mouth is also a great way to gather feedback, too. However, the best way to crunch numbers and see which wines are loved the most, use beverage inventory software, such as BinWise. With our software, you can get simple graphs showing you the consumption of each wine type so you can make informed decisions for the future. 
  • Try Out New Things - To make the wine list even more appealing, especially to return passengers, be sure to add some exotic wines. It’s worth experimenting to see how each type of wine is accepted by the customers. 
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Cruise Beverages: How to Build a Great Menu

Because of the size of cruise ships, it’s certain that there will be people with various tastes and preferences onboard. For that reason, it’s very important to have a long list of cruise beverages and to ensure they are of high quality. 

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Having people of different ages and walks of life on your cruise ship means that you need a good non-alcoholic drinks menu. Not everyone enjoys alcohol or can have it at all, so having delicious drinks for the non-drinkers will be well appreciated.

Here are some alcohol-free drinks you can offer:

  • Soft drinks - Stock up on popular soft drink brands. The minibars in the cabins need to have some popular options, too. 
  • Fresh juices and smoothies - Many people enjoy smoothies for breakfast or juice with their food. Some even skip meals and drink juice instead. To make their cruise experience a great one, have juice and smoothie bars or offer these drinks in other areas of the ship. 
  • Plain and infused waters - Something you can never go wrong is fruit and herbs-infused waters. They pair well with different types of meals! 
  • Teas and coffee drinks - To make the cruise beverages on your ship even more luxurious, consider supplying specialty coffee. Matcha drinks are also great options to add alongside the popular types of tea.
  • Mocktails - The alcohol-free versions of great cocktails are a must for your menu. Anyone who wants a no-alcohol drink will appreciate the variety. 
  • Non-alcoholic versions of popular drinks - Non-alcoholic wine and non-alcoholic beer need their place on your menu, too. They will be well-appreciated by anyone who loves wine and beer but is avoiding alcohol at the moment. 

Alcoholic Drinks

Wondering what types of alcohol to serve? This list is all you need! 

Cruise Beverages and Package Options

Most cruise line lines have their own unique package offers, but there are also some popular ones that work great. If you are planning the all-inclusive drinks and cruise beverages package types, check out the following options. 

  • Unlimited Beverage Package - The unlimited beverage package on cruises usually includes various types of alcohol, as well as non-alcoholic drinks. This package covers other drinks, too. They can include specialty coffee, tea, bottled water, and other soft drinks.  
  • Soft Drinks Package - A great option for people who prefer non-alcoholic cruise beverages. Include juices, mocktails, sodas, and other non-alcoholic drinks. 
  • Premium/Deluxe Package - Create an exclusive package that offers a larger variety. To differentiate it from the Unlimited Package, include premium alcohol, unique beers, and special wine bottles
  • Wine Package - The perfect package for any wine enthusiast! You can source some wines that will be exclusive for people who got this package. 
  • Beer Package - Make all beer lovers happy by stocking up on all kinds of beer brands. Include beer on tap, too. 
  • Water Package - Usually water is free of charge but for the people who love the convenience of drinking bottled water, you can create such a package. 
  • Coffee Package - Curate a selection of great coffee drinks for enthusiasts who would love to enjoy quality coffee anywhere on the ship. 

Create One-of-a-Kind Cruise Bar and Restaurant Experiences

Cruise passengers are not just looking for relaxation but a sense of luxury, too. You can make them feel welcomed and comfortable with great interior design but this won’t be enough. Serving well-curated cocktail drinks, different varieties of wine, beer, mocktails, and other cruise beverages is what can make a real difference. 

Exclusive Bars and Lounges

Creating beautiful spaces with unique designs and a great panoramic view of the ocean is a great start. To complete the luxurious feel, however, you need to offer a variety of cocktails, a proper wine list, and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. 

Premium Spirits

Elevate the experience of the customers at the bar, lounge or restaurant by offering premium quality spirits from all over the world. They may want to experience the spirits with mixers or as they are. Either way, you need to have some good bottles in stock. 

Private Wine Cellars

Serving wine not only in the bar but in a wine cellar on the cruise ship will make for a great experience. You can even organize a wine tasting party where people will be able to try some of the best wines you have. 

Mixology Classes

To make drinking cocktails even more enjoyable, you can have people make their own! Host some mixology classes and let passengers enjoy the creation of beautiful and delicious cocktails!

Dinners with Special Drink and Food Pairings 

Have the executive chef help you create unique meals that can be combined with different wines or other drinks from your inventory. Create some unique drink and food pairings for the passengers. You can go for classic steak wine pairing or wine pairing with chicken, as well as seafood dishes with cocktails and wine, different types of pasta dishes, and more. 

Afternoon Tea 

Afternoon tea is a beautiful and relaxing experience, mostly popular in the UK. Look into tea pairing options to make this an event people can enjoy on your cruise ship! 

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Managing Cruise Beverages Inventory

Managing the cruise beverages inventory can be a big challenge. However, there are some strategies to apply to make the process smoother. Let’s see what they are!

1. Categorize the Bottles

Do a proper inventory organization prior to setting sail. Categorize all of the alcohol, alcohol-free drinks, soft drinks, etc.

2. Implement Beverage Inventory Software

Beverage inventory software is the best way to limit man-made mistakes and stay on top of everything that’s in your inventory. The amount of time the use of such software will save you can be put to better use and help you increase even further the profits. 

3. Set Par Levels

When you already have historical consumption data, you can set par levels for all cruise beverages. With the use of the beverage inventory software, you will easily determine the par levels of bar drinks so you can get the right amount of stock without creating excess or running low on something important. 

4. Conduct Regular Audits

Cruise beverages inventory is not easy to manage. The amounts are big and mistakes can happen easily. That’s why it’s important to regularly do inventory audits to make sure all tracked quantities are available.

5. Relationships with the Vendors

By building strong relationships with the vendors, you will ensure a smooth sail in the sea of cruise beverages. You will be able to get quality drinks on time and at good prices. 

6. Practice FIFO

Use the FIFO method (first in, first out) to minimize the risk of reaching alcohol expiration dates. Following this simple method will help you use the maximum of what you have before anything goes bad. 

7. Staff Training

Make sure all members of the staff are trained well and follow the best practices for handling inventory items. Teach them how to check if temperature-controlled storage is working well, so nothing gets spoiled. 

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8. Waste Management

To do loss prevention is good to keep an eye on quantities, expiration dates, and waste. When you are not creating unnecessary waste, you won’t lose money and will be running things in a more sustainable manner. 

9. Have Backup for Emergencies

Know which items on the menu are most popular and make sure you have some extra stock with all the ingredients you need to make them. This way, if there’s an influx of consumption, you will be prepared.  

10. Stay on Top of the Menu

To keep things fresh and enticing, stay on top of the menu design and engineering. Keep the best sellers but don’t be afraid to change up so offers from time to time, too.  

11. Always Gather Feedback

Always be open to feedback. Ask the staff to share with your the thoughts of the customers they spoke with, etc. If you know what people like and don’t like, you will be able to make your cruise beverages even better.

If you want to run your beverage program with ease, check out what BinWise Pro can help you with! Cruise beverages are not easy to manage and that’s why it’s crucial to work smarter. Book a demo now to find out more!

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