Bacardi Global Travel Retail has announced the launch of the 2014 Bacardi Cruise Competition - the 9th staging of one of the cruise industry’s largest and most challenging program to feature the skills and creativity of onboard bartenders.

Motivated by great prizes and the extraordinary heritage and flavors of the BACARDI family of brands – which has inspired legendary cocktails for over 500 years – the talents of bartenders onboard cruise and ferry lines will be challenged to achieve new heights of excellence.

In a change to the previous format the competition does not feature a culinary aspect; instead it is devoted to the ‘Inspired Cocktail’ and focuses 100% on the skills of bartenders and their creativity in using the BACARDI family of brands, including GREY GOOSE vodkas, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gins and DEWAR’S blended Scotch whisky, to develop their own signature cocktails. Their challenge is to reflect how travel has inspired their personal style of cocktail making.

In September one ultimate winner will be crowned 2014 Bacardi Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year at the finals in Miami, with a personal prize of $5000 and further opportunities from Bacardi where he/she will be invited to attend a range of events and brand experiences to aid their professional development.

Zachary Sulkes, Regional Manager Bacardi Travel Retail Americas, explained the strategic focus for 2014: “The art of the cocktail is the ultimate creative expression of our brands – it’s also an integral element of Bacardi’s remarkable history – and we are delighted to bring an elevated focus to the professionalism of the bar-tender.

“Each year the standard goes from strength to strength and we see this as a key indicator of the continual improvement in the on-board guest experience.  The world-class caliber of entrants raises the bar for the levels of professionalism expected on-board and focuses on the importance of the bartender as an absolutely key contributor to the guest experience.  We are grateful for the continuing input and enthusiasm of our cruise line partners in the Bacardi Cruise Competition and we look forward to sharing with them in an even more influential event in 2014.”

Adri Ford of Carnival Cruise Lines, the winner of the Bacardi Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year in both 2012 and 2013, sees her experience of the competition as life changing: “Winning the Bacardi Cruise Competition has helped me enormously in my professional life. I learned more than I ever imagined about the drinks industry, I’ve visited incredible brand locations, participated in seminars and other competitions.  Bacardi’s investment has truly elevated me in the industry – I’m a better bartender and also a better person.  So to this year’s contestants and the ultimate winner I say …remember, the sky’s the limit, take all the advice and opportunity given to you, you’ll be amazed how many doors open up for you…the possibilities are endless!”

The competition will be judged by a panel of mixologists, Bacardi Global Brand Ambassadors and cruise industry executives. Full competition details are available on http://www.bacardicruisecompetition.com as part of an enhanced communication program for the competition where entrants can find advice and inspiration to develop their ultimate cocktail.

The final 25 semi-finalist recipes will be hosted on online – between early June and mid July and and, for the first time, the public will be able to vote for their favorite. 

During this time bartenders will be able to download a personalized toolkit to display on their bar and to engage their customers with details of the competition and encourage votes.

In September the finals will be held in Miami where all 6 finalists compete to convince the judges that their signature serve has the perfect ingredients for success and to be crowned 2014 Bacardi Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year.  

Entries open at 1201 AM ET on February 18, 2014 by logging on to http://www.bacardicruisecompetition.com - part of an enhanced communication program for the competition where entrants can complete the online entry form, find advice and inspiration to develop their ultimate cocktail.