Your cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, and anywhere else you're going out of port, just got craftier.
Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa has just announced a deal with Carnival Cruise Lines to offer two of the brewery's flagship brands onboard Carnival ships departing from Florida ports: Florida Cracker Belgian-Style Ale and Invasion Pale Ale.
"We're real excited about this," Cigar City Brewing Vice President Justin Clark told us. "[Carnival's] EVP wanted great beer on his ships... There's an opportunity to have other brands or draft in the future."
To start, there will be only canned products onboard, until both parties "see what goes on" with them.
"People are looking for something better," he continued. "They're on vacation, and they want to have what they enjoy. Many are coming to the ships from a more mature craft beer market."
According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Carnival's VP of Beverage Operations Eddie Allen has been a longtime fan of Cigar City beers and helped to make the collaboration possible. After a chat with a local sales rep in South Florida, the duo made their case to Joe Burns, Cigar City's national sales manager.
"Joey [Redner]'s always had on his bucket list that he wanted to have his beer sold on cruise ships, but he never thought it would happen," Burns said. "So we very quickly and quietly did it and surprised him. He's thrilled."
On a recent Carnival cruise, we noticed some changes being made to the previously anemic beer selection. What used to look like a Bud-Miller-Coors warehouse had at least brought on basic imports like Bass Pale Ale, Pilsner Urquell, and Newcastle Brown Ale.
Additionally, in a program introduced a few years ago, the company serves its own ThirstyFrog Red labeled beer, created for Carnival by Anheuser-Busch. That beer is noted by the website Cruisn to be "similar in taste to Killian's Red."
For now, Cigar City beers will be available on Carnival ships leaving Florida, with 100,000 units expected to move during the first year.
Look for the beers onboard now.