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Friday File: Always Five O’clock On Ships

We have no problems with spending time at bars on cruise ships — it’s just something we’ve never done a lot. So today’s glimpse of some of the facades and ways that cruise lines try to encourage passengers to visit their “neighborhood” bar, or one of them, is hardly the work of experts. It’s just some of the bars that we thought looked interesting, for any of a number of reasons…

Allure-moving bar

The Rising Tide on Allure of the Seas is an elevator of sorts, moving three floors up and down at one end of the ship’s promenade.

Epic - OSheehans

On the Norwegian Epic, there’s an Ice Bar that’s very cool but we found O’Sheehan’s more comfortable in more ways than one.

Carnival Ecstasy

This could be any bar but it happens to be an eagle’s nest view of a bar on the Carnival Ecstasy — it shall be nameless here.

Riviera

Then there's just a bar that looks nice, and classy…which is what Oceania tries to do on all its ships, in this case the tasteful Riviera.

Cruise ship Celebrity Reflection

On the Celebrity Reflection, the innovative Molecular Bar is where you “participate in Mixology 101” and learn new concoctions.

Quantum-Robotic

If you’re into bar conversation, it’s minimal from Quantum of the Seas robots, who needn’t worry about translation with their ship now in Asia.

Carnival Freedom

Carnival’s signature places to imbibe, here on the Freedom, and on some ships there’s a pub, a bar and beer with the RedFrog brand.

In the news…

• Holland America, Dancing With Stars to split after January 10 cruise
• No more fireworks shows on Norwegian ships Breakaway, Getaway
• Crystal Cruises owner considering buying into Lloyd Werft Shipyard

Today at portsandbows.com: New port on the River Thames in London

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
November 15, 2015
Houston (return): Cozumel, Roatan, Belize
Inside: $469
Cost per day: $67
www.princess.com

Norwegian Epic Ice Bar Ve-r-r-y Cool!

Anybody who knows me is well aware that I’ve spent most of the last few decades in pursuit of somewhere warm. When Jimmy Buffett sang about being “umbilically connected to the temperate zone” I could identify. When I chose to spend the last two Christmases with grandchildren near International Falls, MN., the renowned coldest place in America, there was great climactic sacrifice.

Why then would I allow myself to be coerced into visiting the Svedka Ice Bar on the Norwegian Epic, the first “ice bar” at sea? Sure beats an ice berg, doesn’t it?

But why indeed!

Let me tell you a little bit about the Ice Bar. It serves vodka-laced drinks. I don’t drink vodka. The “cups” are made of ice. I prefer drinks without ice in them. Furry “coverings” are mandatory for survival. I used to wear a fur coat, but it’s not even remotely practical for my adopted climates.

How cold was it?

So cold that my hands were shaking when I took the picture below, of the bartender.

The temperature inside the Ice Bar is 17 degrees. That’s Fahrenheit. If it was Celsius, I don’t imagine the ice would survive (but I would). Oh yes, and people pay $20 to do this. For $20 they get (a) two drinks and (b) to stay for 45 minutes.

Who would stay 45 minutes?

Uh, me. I enjoyed it. I wasn’t that cold…maybe because I drank vodka. It was as comfortable as 17 degrees can be.

“I love it,” our daughter said. “My parents, drinking vodka!”

People tend to go in and out of the Ice Bar in groups, once they don the appropriate icewear. Our group was about 10 people. If we weren’t the last to leave, we were almost the last.

Bob would’ve stayed longer, even though he’s not a vodka drinker either. There was a football game on the Ice Bar TV, and he’s used to watching football games in the cold.

As for me, I figured if the bartender — who works a five-hour shift in the Ice Bar — can stay that long and live to tell about it then I wasn’t going to bail. After all, he’s from the Philippines.

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