To say that drinking is part of cruising would be like saying popcorn is part of the movies. Step on the ship and you’ll find bars everywhere — and in all different styles. Whether you’re the sort of person that just wants a cold Bud Light by the pool or you like high-end cocktails you’ve never tried before, you’ll find something for you on the ship.
There’s also the opportunity to let loose a little and try some things that you normally wouldn’t drink back home. After all, you’re on vacation.
Case in point: On a recent cruise, I decided it would be fun to hunt down and try the absolute most expensive drink on the ship. The result? A drink that I definitely didn’t expect but that led to a very fun afternoon. Here’s what happened…
Finding the Most Expensive Drink on the Ship
On this cruise, I sailed on Carnival Vista for what was the cruise line’s first trip to depart from the United States after the pause in cruising. Vista has a number of bars that are well-known across the fleet. This includes the RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Alchemy Bar, the RedFrog Pub, Havana Bar, the Atrium Bar, and more.
Now, after the health crisis paused cruising, there are a number of changes around the ship. One of them is that menus in the restaurants and bars are no longer available like they used to be. Instead of walking up and grabbing a menu, you now use your phone. Each place you visit will have a QR code that you scan with your phone to bring up a menu.
So over the course of a couple of days, I visited each bar around the ship, scanning the codes to pull up the menu and figure out the priciest drink.
As you might expect, the menus and prices are fairly consistent around the ship. Yes, different bars often serve different drinks, but price points are in the same ballpark. The most expensive drinks at each bar typically run around $10-11 for a cocktail. There were some finds here and there that were slightly more expensive, including high-end shots. But then, I scanned the menu of the RedFrog Pub.
RedFrog Pub & The Fish Bowl
The RedFrog Pub is a bit hidden on Carnival Vista. While the RedFrog Rum Bar is on the pool deck and easy to find, the RedFrog Pub is on deck 5. The entrance area is relatively small with a few tables. Frankly, I had walked by it several times and didn’t really notice the spot.
However, in my hunt for the most expensive drink, I walked in and was surprised. Walk past the first tables and then you see that the pub isn’t some tiny spot. It extends back and then around. Inside there are booths, an entire wraparound bar, high-top tables and even games like shuffleboard to play.
The spot has pour-your-own beer, a karaoke stage, and also an outdoor seating area. It turns out that it’s one of the largest bars on the ship, but has some of the least-visible real estate.
Scanning the menu, the prices and drinks looked similar to what’s found at other bars… until I got to the fish bowls.
With cocktails at the pub, you can get them as traditional drinks with single servings. Or, you can get them as a fish bowl. These drinks are served extra-large, in a huge glass that you can take home. They run a bit more expensive — $34.95 for the drink and the glass it comes in, with refills being $19.95.
Having already checked the menus of other bars, I knew that this was the most expensive drink I was going to find. What I hadn’t counted on was that the most expensive drink would also be the largest.
Finding a Happy Hour Deal (50% Off!)
When I first hunted down the fish bowl from RedFrog Pub, it was early in the morning during a day at sea and the bar wasn’t serving. That’s good because it ended up saving me a decent chunk of change.
After heading back to the room, I told my wife what I found and that I planned to go back to have the drink later on during the day. She thought it sounded fun, but told me to wait a second while she grabbed her phone. There, she opened up the Carnival HUB app and flipped through the daily schedules for the upcoming days. She then showed me a way to get the most expensive drink for cheaper.
It turns out that the RedFrog Pub has happy hours on a couple of days of the cruise. During this time drinks are half-priced, and the special includes the fish bowls that I found. My wife had spotted the deal earlier when looking through the daily schedules on her phone. Her find was going to save 50% off the cost.
But to get the deal, we had to wait another couple of days. Happy hour ran from 2:30-4:30 during the day the ship stopped in Belize, which was day 5 of the cruise.
Ordering a Hurricane in a Fish Bowl
A couple of days later, my wife and I headed into the RedFrog Pub. When we passed by randomly at one point a couple of days earlier, it was so packed that you couldn’t find a seat. With happy hour going on we thought it might be the same scenario, but the spot wasn’t too busy.
While my wife grabbed a table outside — where there were only a couple of other people — I stood at the bar to order. There weren’t that many people, but the three bartenders seemed very busy. It took a good 10 minutes until one was even able to take my order.
With the fish bowl, you get your choice of cocktail. The offers range from mojitos to painkillers, to blue bahamas, and more. Just about all of them are rum-based. For my drink, I ordered the RedFrog Tropical Hurricane. According to the menu, the drink is “a tropical mix of Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Bacardi Spiced Rum, exotic juices and soda.”
Evidently you can order the fish bowl without the souvenir glass, but the bartender said they didn’t have any other glasses at the moment. So for my hurricane, I got the actual drink for half-off, but the souvenir glass was still full priced. I ended up paying $10 for the drink and $14.95 for the glass.
The total came out to $24.95, and gratuity tacked on another $29.44. So the most expensive drink on the ship ran about $30 all in.
First Taste of the Massive Drink
Carrying the drink outside to the table, I felt a bit silly. You literally do feel like you’re carrying a fish bowl. The drink was massive and filled to the brim. The last thing I wanted to do was accidentally bump into someone and spill the thing.
After safely navigating to the table, it was time to dive in. Now, truth be told I’m not a big drinker so I enlisted the help of my wife to tackle the fish bowl.
Oddly enough, finding a straw for this behemoth was difficult. A couple next to me at the bar had two huge plastic straws and the bartender was charging them a dollar each. Instead, I grabbed a couple of regular straws in a green package from the bar rather than pay the extra cash.
What I didn’t realize until I opened them is that these weren’t regular straws at all. Instead they were edible straws. More on that in a moment.
Diving in, we both took our first taste of the hurricane fish bowl. The verdict? Sweet! The taste of pineapple juice was strong and the first sip seemed like pure sugar. In fact, I wasn’t sure how we’d be able to finish the whole drink given how sweet it was.
Even so, we kept at it and the sweetness eventually subsided. Or maybe we just got used to it.
Feeling Good… But Edible Straws?!
One thing I did notice is that while there was plenty of alcohol, it wasn’t a terribly strong drink. I could definitely feel it, but even though I’m not a big drinker, sharing a fish bowl was no big deal. It was enough to loosen me up, but not enough to make me tipsy.
What the drink was great for was as a way to spend some time in gorgeous surroundings. As mentioned, happy hour was during a port day in Belize. So we enjoyed the drink sitting out on the deck of the ship surrounded by gorgeous blue water all around us. It’s definitely hard to beat that.
As for the drink, we continued to make good progress. The more we drank and the ice melted, the less the sweetness bothered us. And while we felt relaxed from the alcohol, it was never enough to make us feel too loose.
What was a pain were our edible straws. On a normal drink, I’m sure they work fine. But drinking the fish bowl took about 30 minutes. During that time, the edible straws slowly softened to the point where if you pulled it out of the drink and held it up, it would begin to droop.
Eventually, my straw broke altogether. So I was left with half a straw in the fish bowl and just ate the other half. While I’ve never eaten a straw before, it was actually delicious, tasting like lime candy. So as a dessert, the straw was great. As a straw, not so much.
With no straw, that meant taking gulps instead of sips to get this fish bowl finished.
The Last Sip & Final Verdict on the Biggest Drink
All told, I’d estimate the fish bowl holds 3-4 normal drinks. At a price of $30, that wasn’t a bad deal at happy hour. It would be only $10 at happy hour for a refill, making it a fantastic deal.
The drink actually got better as time went on and the ice melted, which cut the sweetness. But after just one, we had enough sugar for one day.
It could have definitely been a stronger drink, but I did notice that I felt things a whole lot more after getting up from the table and walking back to the cabin. Again, not enough to put me under, but I definitely felt the drink way more than I had sitting down.
All told, the most expensive — and biggest — drink of the cruise ship was a fun way to spend a gorgeous afternoon. We hung out, talked, played cards, and generally just enjoyed taking a break from the day-to-day to relax on vacation.
Considering you could easily spend the same amount in the same amount time in a dark casino, spending the day having a drink while taking in gorgeous views was definitely worth it.
Thank you for the info. We will be sailing on the Carnival Vista next week. We purchased the Red Frog Growler in September 2019. Do you know if they still offer it and can we bring it on this cruise to be refilled for the refill cost?
Not sure. If you have space, no harm in bringing it and trying!