O'Sheehans Neighborhood Bar and Grill on the Norwegian EpicFrom molecular mixology’s colder-than-ice concoctions to self-service soft drinks, both presentation and guest attitudes are adjusting. “We're trying to move to a much more forward thinking program,” said Scott Steenrod, associate vice president of food and beverage operations for Celebrity Cruises.

Added Rudi Scholdis, Silversea Cruises’ culinary director: “Consumers feel more and more that they ought to nurture their health. New flavors are being driven by the current global trend for super fruits, which contain high levels of nutrients and antioxidants, as well as providing new enticing tastes.

Bob Midyette, director of fleet beverage operations at Royal Caribbean International, said the push for natural ingredients includes those in even the most complicated drinks, such as the Bloody Mary, which is usually poured from a pre-made mix. “We’re contracting to get all-natural, possibly organic Bloody Mary mix. Our Piña Colada mixes are already all-natural.”

The need for variety doesn’t stop with cocktails. Said Midyette: “We've taken our icon bars, the English pub, champagne bar and wine bar up to world class.” Royal Caribbean has also doubled the number of beers in the pub, including educational material on the difference between the ales and loggers. “People are excited about beer education. There's a high level of interest in trying new beers,” Midyette added.

At MSC Cruises, Monica Panero, corporate bar management director, said MSC has taken an “easy-to-drink” approach to wine, offering modern, quality wines that keep a moderate quality-price ratio. “We have also upgraded our selection for connoisseurs and are delighted to offer some of the world’s finest wines that are sure to satisfy the demands of the most discerning wine lovers,” Panero said.

Midyette said Royal Caribbean is focusing on offering true world wines, relying less on California wines. Steenrod said that wines from Chile, New Zealand, and Australia are growing in popularity. “When the economy went south, people became much more value conscious. They want a great product at better price.” And, as they become more educated, worldly wine drinkers, guests come to appreciate further complexities, he said. “We’re seeing growth in biodynamic, so-called green wines made with all natural processes.”

At Royal Caribbean, there has also been a slight shift toward self service. “There is some level that we're allowing that to happen,” Midyette said, “ like the wine self-service machines. You can go out and explore new wines without a huge financial penalty. We've opened that window up a little wider for the guests."

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2011