Based on the headline alone (“Caffeine buzz: The 10 best cruise ship coffee bars“) we are to assume that USA Today, America’s foremost paper for American Americans, had tasked a reporter to research and visit the fifty-three operational cruise lines in the world and figure out the ten very best cruise ship coffee bars.

The Queen Of Cruising: Fran Golden (image via
The Queen Of Cruising: Fran Golden (image via

A tall order, USA Today. But Fran Golden was up to the taskGolden is by all accounts a cruise ship expert, with just under twenty-five years of cruising and travel writing under her belt. Frommer’s Alaska Cruises & Ports of Call and the first editions of Idiot’s Guide to Cruise Vacations, Cruise Vacations for Dummies, and Frommer’s Europe Cruises & Ports of Call were all penned by the Queen of Cruising, Fran Golden. What could have been a David Foster Wallace-esque exercise in groans, footnotes, and ennui is instead a delightful rundown of what’s being served on the top cruising lines.

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Cappuccino and canoli on the high seas at Carlos Bakery (TV's Cake Boss) on Norwegian cruise liners. (USA Today)
Cappuccino and cannoli on the high seas at Carlos Bake Shop (TV’s Cake Boss) on Norwegian cruise liners. (USA Today)

NorwegianRoyal CaribbeanOceaniaDisney Cruise LineCostaPrincessHolland AmericaMSC Cruises, and Carnival made the cut. The selection seems to be dictated by atmosphere and activities (Norwegian’s cruise ships Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway have coffee bars that feature game shows and concerts) rather than the quality of the coffee. Of the ten, only big-name and internationally recognized brands like SegafredoLavazza, illy, Starbucks, and Starbucks’ Torrefazione Italia were mentioned.

Here’s a clip from the list:

Holland America: Starbucks brand Torrefazione Italia is the featured brew in the Explorations Café on Holland America ships. Take your coffee over to the cushy, ocean-facing lounge chairs where you can peruse reading materials including top magazines and printouts of The New York Times.

MSC Cruises: This Italian-style cruise line doesn’t mess around when it comes to coffee. At the Segafredo Coffee Bar on the MSC Divina, cruising from Miami, the featured coffee is Italian brand Segafredo. Enjoy your espresso at a café table or from a small plastic cup at the counter. Just don’t ask for skim milk in your latte — such requests make the barista frown.

Carnival: Carnival is new to the coffee bar scene with Java Blue on the Carnival Sunshine — a brightly lit counter with table seating. The menu includes your typical lattes and such as well as creative spiked coffee drinks — enhanced with rum or vodka.

Fran Golden’s report begs the question: who will be the first boutique brand to take to the high seas? In a world where you can go cruising with Weezer, Cat Power, and Ozma, can a high-end coffee bar be far behind?

(Top image via NY Daily News

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