Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, Carnival Vista, boasts the first craft brewery on a cruise ship in North America. Cheers had a chance to visit the RedFrog Pub & Brewery when the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista was docked in New York on Nov. 16.
RedFrog Pub & Brewery is a collaboration between Carnival and Miami-based Concrete Beach Brewery. Concrete Beach worked closely with Carnival to create original recipes and select ingredients for the three distinctive craft beers that will be brewed and served on board Carnival Vista. Nine Carnival ships include a Redfrog Pub, but Vista is the first to offer the brewery component, says RedFrog brewmaster Colin Presby
During each sailing, giant copper-topped glass kettles brew ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA, which has aromatic, floral and hoppy notes with passion fruit and citrus overtones; ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat, an unfiltered lager with aromas of bananas and spices; and FriskyFrog Java Stout, a take on a traditional stout, rich and creamy with hints of coffee. Presby says the on-board brewpub will add a fourth regular beer and do the occasional seasonal brew.
The ship’s glass brewhouse is the first in the U.S., says Presby. People can see the beer-brewing process as they’re walking by, he notes, “so it’s a great chance for guest interaction.”
Carnival Vista, which has a guest capacity of nearly 4,000 passengers, made its debut in Europe in May with a series of Mediterranean cruises followed by a trans-Atlantic crossing that ended in New York in early November. The vessel will be based in Miami for year-round, six- and eight-day Caribbean sailings. In addition to the RedFrog Pub, Carnival Vista also includes the poolside Blue Iguana Tequila and RedFrog Rum Bars; the pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar; and the Havana Bar/Latin dance club, among other bars.
Presby was named brewmaster of Carnival Vista’s RedFrog Pub & Brewery in March and started brewing in mid-April. He was on his own for the European cruises, but he now has an assistant on board to help with brewing. The guests on board for the European sailings were more interested in wine, Presby notes, but Caribbean cruises appeal to younger American guests—an audience that is primed for U.S. craft beer. “I have the feeling we’ll be doubling our beer output in Miami.”