Which Cruise Lines Have The Best Coffee Shops?
Those who need their daily coffee fix need not worry when booking a cruise, there’s more to choose from than the standard room service, main dining room, or buffet coffee which can often be hit-or-miss. Most cruise ships have coffee shops, where you pay a la carte (or user your drink package on some cruise lines) for a specialty beverage. A nice bonus: these coffee shops usually have pastries and desserts which tend to be complimentary, and you don’t even have to buy a drink to enjoy one. Here, in no particular order, are some of the best coffee shops you can find at sea.
1. Café al Bacio - Celebrity Cruises
If you’re on a Celebrity ship, chances are there’s a Café al Bacio full of specialty coffees, teas, and complimentary desserts just waiting for you to indulge. Inspired by the atmosphere of an Italian cafe, the sophisticated venue is a popular spot for a morning java and pastry and during sea day afternoons. The tea menu is especially impressive, with a variety of classic and herbal blends to choose from. Not in the mood for espresso or tea? You’ll also find hot chocolate, a generous wine list, and gelato served until 11 pm to satisfy those with a late-night sweet tooth.
Drink to Try: Caramel Macchiato
2. Starbucks - Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line
Starbucks devotees don’t have to give up their habit when sailing one of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships. An at-sea Starbucks is situated in the Royal Promenade or Boardwalk area of the ship, and the onboard version serves up many of the same classic drinks and bites you’re used to on land. If you’re not sailing an Oasis class ship, you can also find Starbucks coffee in La Patisserie on the Quantum class ships and Seattle’s Best Coffee (a subsidiary of Starbucks) in other venues fleetwide.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ships Norwegian Bliss and Joy also have full-service Starbucks outposts onboard, as well as a second drinks-only counter in the forward Observation Lounge. The buffets also include self-service Starbucks coffee machines that grind the beans to-order.
You can use your Starbucks gift cards or app to pay aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships and Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy, and earn points in the Starbucks loyalty program (although you can’t use points onboard).
Drink to Try: Whatever you’d normally order at your local Starbucks!
3. Explorations Café - Holland America
Think of the Explorations Cafe as the ship’s library, game room, internet cafe, and coffee shop all in one. The stars of the show, of course, are the espresso-based drinks made with Holland America’s exclusive Rotterdam 1873 coffee blend by Beukenhorst Koffie. Pastries and snacks are also available for a light bite while you do a crossword puzzle, read one of the readily-available international newspapers, or pick a book from the library shelf.
Drink to Try: Vanilla Latte
4. Venchi Cioccogelateria & Coffee Bar - MSC Cruises
On MSC Seaside and Seaview, Venchi is where chocolate and coffee collide in some of the most delicious beverages you’ll ever have the pleasure of sipping. Aptly named after the Italian gourmet chocolate manufacturer, Venchi serves a variety of espresso-based drinks, chocolate espresso-based drinks, hot chocolate, gelato, milkshakes, and even chocolate cocktails. The space feels luxurious but not pretentious, and is accented with rich browns and golds. Plenty of natural light seeps in thanks to the large portholes to the side.
Drinks to Try: Alcoholic: Chocolate Martini Non-Alcoholic: Marocchino Special
5. Cove Café - Disney Cruise Line
The Cove Cafe is an indoor/outdoor lounge that can be found on all four of Disney’s ships. Not only can you find specialty java-based beverages (made with Illy coffee) such as lattes and mochas, but also teas, baked goods, and even cocktails. Whether you want to sit outside in the sunshine and ocean breeze, or inside with air conditioning and wifi access, the cove cafe provides spaces for both. Oh, and this is the perfect place to regroup with some good old peace and quiet, because the cafe is located in the adults area of the ship where kids aren’t allowed.
Drink to Try: Caramel Hazelnut Mocha
6. Café Carinthia - Cunard
If you’re sailing Queen Elizabeth, be sure to stop into Cafe Carinthia for a cup of premium Illy brand coffee. The venue is reminiscent of a quaint Parisian cafe and serves pastries in the morning and sandwiches and desserts midday. If espresso-based drinks don’t suit your fancy, wine and cocktails are also available in the comfortable yet stately space; when the sun goes down, it transforms into a full cocktail lounge. Those sailing aboard Queen Mary 2 will find a similar venue called Carinthia Lounge, but the focus there is more on the food than the beverages.
Drink to Try: Cappuccino
Join the discussion
Do you buy specialty coffee while on a cruise, or just stick with what's included?