A good cup of coffee can make the day better - and when you're on holiday, you want every day to be as close to perfect as possible. That's why we've collated a few handy tips for Australian cruisers in search of a decent brew at sea.
Book a suite on a P&O ship
P&O's suite guests will get the ultimate in cruise coffee experiences, with nespresso machines in-room. This is a cruise line that knows what Australian cruisers like! Imagine being able to wake up, take in the sunrise from your private balcony and then enjoy a coffee in your pyjamas before even leaving the room. Bliss!
Carnival's Coffee Aussiefication
Carnival Cruises' Australian fleet might be small - just the Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend - but the line took the process of "Aussiefication" seriously. You won't have to worry about being served boring American-style coffee on these ships - the Australian Coffee School trained the ships' baristas in making perfect lattes and flat whites for the specialty restaurants and cafes like the Coffee Bar or the Legends Cafe.
There are also espresso machines in the Lido restaurant for everyone to enjoy. Not as good as the specialty coffees, but at least it's included in your cruise fare.
Cafe al Bacio on Celebrity ships
If there's another country we can trust to know good coffee, it's probably Italy. They take their coffee seriously, like we do, and although they tend to opt for tiny espressos rather than milky lattes, the base product is good. Cafe al Bacio uses top Italian brand Lavazza for their coffee and they have trained baristas making espressos, cappuccinos, mochas and macchiatos to go with the freshly-baked treats.
Of course, as with most places which serve good coffee, this one's at an additional cost. If you love good coffee, it's probably worth it for a little taste of Italy at sea.
Lap of luxury
If you want to get premium and specialty coffees included in your cruise fare, rather than just percolated, you may have to go the whole hog and book a suite on a luxury cruise line. Extravagant, we know, but if you can save up enough to splurge on one of these fantastic holidays, we recommend it.
Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and other top-end lines include not only specialty coffees in the cruise fare, but wine, beer and a range of other beverages. Combined with impeccable service, gourmet dining and in-depth, exotic itineraries, they are the ultimate in cruising.
Don't mind instant coffee? Prefer tea?
The United Kingdom doesn't have quite the cafe culture we do, but they certainly love their hot drinks - and there are plenty of people even in Australia who prefer a nice cup of instant coffee.
P&O UK ships, although not a common sight Down Under, have the holy grail for tea and instant coffee drinkers: a kettle, cups, saucers, teaspoons and the various sachets needed for making your own cuppa in each cabin. A very British touch that is hugely appreciated by many passengers!
Holland America's Explorations Cafe
As part of their Signature of Excellence campaign, Holland America has an Explorations Cafe on all ships in the fleet. The coffee served there is considered by many cruisers as very good, and is provided by Torrefazione Italia, a well-regarded high-end Starbucks brand.
The cafe is "powered by the New York Times", offering copies of the magazine for perusal as well as a very extensive library. These, plus the leather chairs and cozy, traditional feel mean that not only is the coffee good but the environment is perfect for that morning or afternoon chill time. What's more, the tempting pastries at the cafe are free!
You might have noticed a theme here - unless you're on a luxury cruise or have a particular love for instant brews and generic filter coffee, the best options are the ones that cost extra. If you indulge in the stuff on a regular basis, it might work out more cost-effective to opt for a drinks package - providing you're on a line which offers them. Just check which ones include specialty coffees, and also make sure they are available on Australian sailings, as many lines have different rules in our region.
Royal Caribbean's Royal Replenish option, at US$20 per day per guest, includes non-alcoholic drinks and premium coffees at their Cafe Latte-tudes and other venues. There is also an Ultimate Package at US$65 per day per guest which is virtually unlimited: cocktails, beer, wine, coffee, soda and everything you could wish to drink.
Princess has recently made all-inclusive beverage packages available on Australia sailings. These cover all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks up to the value of $10, including specialty coffees, at $49 per guest per day. They also offer a special card for coffee lovers, called Cafe Select. It's great value: costing $33.35 per card, it will get you up to 15 espresso-based specialty coffees.
Celebrity has a very wide range of drinks packages available to Australian cruisers. The cheapest option is the classic non-alcoholic package, which includes premium coffees and teas, at around $30 per guest per day, and there are many other possibilities. Their new "Go Big, Go Better, Go Best" program means you can get a drinks package as part of your fare in many cases.
Carnival Australia and P&O Australia both offer only basic fizzy drink packages currently, so you'll still have to pay for each individual specialty coffee.