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An Entrepreneurial Start Up Craft Brewery On Board The Carnival Vista

Carnival Vista Red Frog Brewery Beer Sampler Lineup

Craft Beer at Sea (How Carnival Cruise Line’s Red Frog Brewery Is Changing The Cruise World)

Corporate life, by definition, doesn’t lend itself to entrepreneurial endeavor. There are brainstorming sessions, committees, think tanks, cost benefit analysis charts, a SIPOC, and meetings about meetings about other meetings. There is all of that because there is risk, reputation, shareholders, and stakeholders to consider, and while there is, also by definition, more disposable petty cash on hand than at a plucky start-up, it is only natural that the bigger the firm, the slower the innovation.

While this fact can frustrate some entrepreneurial creatives who are on the inside (me, a decade ago for example), it does make perfect sense for a massive public institution to play it safer than a miniature upstart. This is why I was struck by what I found on deck 5 of the Carnival Vista: a craft brewery.

A real brewery.

On a cruise ship.

CarnVistaBrewery by Andy Newman

This might not seem earth shattering to you, especially in 2016 with craft beer a red hot commodity and viable business trend in American cities big and small, but it is the entrepreneurial spirit and creative energy inside Carnival brewmaster Colin Presby that really excites this non-drinker.

Carnival Vista Red Frog Brewery Tanks photo by Andy Newman

Carnival Cruise Line, in case you’re not hip to the company, is faaaaar from a teensy newbie in the business of floating boats and epic at-sea vacations. That’s why this entrepreneurial endeavor, a craft brewery on a massive cruise ship, is worth celebrating. Well, that and because I was told by the discerning drinkers in this photo below that the entire Red Frog Brewery craft beer lineup brewed at sea while cruising from Barcelona to Greece and soon, around the Caribbean from its eventual Miami home base, is really, really tasty.

Carnival Vista Red Frog Brewery Tour Toast

Simply drinking the freshest beer at sea in the Red Frog Pub is just the beginning of Presby’s plan. He has received initial thumbs up from top brass at Carnival when it comes to “doing more” with his brewery, specifically regarding his idea to place Red Frog Brewery craft beers in other bars on board Vista and in the ship’s restaurants, and his hope to offer guests growlers to make enjoying a Dive-In Movie outdoors under the stars a bit more fun. When Eddie Allen, the VP of Carnival Beverage Operations, and a team of executive chefs came to taste Thirsty Frog Port Hoppin IPA before Presby tapped it in the Red Frog Pub, more ideas came pouring out:

  • beer paired menus.
  • sorbet from beer.
  • bringing on board local spices and ingredients from different ports to produce special small batch brews.
  • and maybe an Imperial Stout that would be exclusive to the Vista’s Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse.

A craft brewery on board a cruise ship was an innovative endeavor but Carnival and its brewmaster clearly have a lot more entrepreneurial spirit in the keg.

Carnival Vista Red Frog Brewery Albrecht Cooper Tank

The result of the considerable risk and the not insignificant expensive (one would guess) taken on by Carnival to launch an on board craft brewery on the Vista marks a seismic shift in the cruise world. No longer can newly built cruise ships expect to get away with NOT offering beer aficionados freshly made brews during their vacation at sea because Carnival, with their glistening new ship Vista (and, starting in 2018, with their next ship Horizon), has upped the ante in attracting thirsty cruisers.

While I’ll never taste the fruit (literally, in the case of the Thirsty Frog Caribbean Wheat made with orange rind) of Colin Presby’s industrious labor on board, I applaud Carnival for being ahead of the curve, innovative and demonstrating a keen entrepreneurial spirit with their Red Frog Pub and Brewery.

Carnival Vista Red Frog Brewery Thirsty Frog Caribbean Wheat Orange Rinds

I’m already on record as saying the Vista is the best new cruise ship for families but the Carnival Vista should also be the ship of choice for craft beer loving travelers, and that choice will be easier to make once Vista arrives in the U.S. this fall.

Carnival Vista Red Frog Brewery Tank Sign

*Carnival kindly included my family on a Vista press trip in May. All opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.

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