Azamara offers such a long list of free cocktails that it can seem difficult to know where to start. But not if you just start with the first drink and work your way down the list -- alphabetically, alcoholically.
In the interests of our research and your liver, we conducted a comprehensive analysis over 14 nights (and afternoons and maybe one morning) onboard Azamara Quest, sailing from Bali to Cairns. Here are our findings, from appletini to zentini. Cheers!
An appletini a day keeps the, um, apple away. There's no real fruit in this flavoured vodka martini but it's an easy start to our 30-drink mission.
Oh, sweet child o' mine. Vodka, cranberry juice and pineapple juice will make you feel very breezy indeed.
More vodka, blue curacao and lemon-lime soda. Reminds us too much of our misspent youth.
The morning cocktail, as it's known, is 75 percent tomato juice and 20 percent vodka, yet people are very fussy about that last 5 percent and how much Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice to add. Azamara's bartenders will eventually hand over the ingredients if you don't like their not-very-spicy version.
Vodka and cranberry with a lime wedge. It will remind you of your underage drinking days. Or the Bay Breeze you had yesterday.
Don't let the soothing name or the pretty blue colour fool you -- this will not remind you of summer holidays on a beautiful island (unless you were the victim of a horrible crime). It should actually be named after the most dangerous part of the Caribbean. Avoid. Beware. Do not approach. Sunsets aren't blue anyway, which should have been the first red flag.
Thank you, darling daiquiri, for saving me from the horror of the Caribbean Sunset. Four times. Yes, these frozen treats are available in strawberry, lime, peach or mango. Every one's a winner.
Well, this is just a martini with a pickled onion instead of an olive. If only I had discovered it years ago. Turns out I've been wasting my time with the wrong vegetable garnish.
Gin and lime juice should taste lovely, but this freebie doesn't have fresh lime so it's a little sticky. You have to pay extra for the non-syrupy versions and better spirits, and it's probably worth it. (Don't ask me, I still had two-thirds of the complimentary cocktail list to get through.)
This is basically a large after-dinner mint to get you hopping, like a grasshopper, on the dancefloor. With equal parts creme de menthe, creme de cacao and cream, it's a refreshing liquid dessert.
Vodka and grapefruit juice is a great, tart, tongue tickler, for when everything else tastes too sweet. Loved it, needed it.
Throw down too many of these strong vodka-lime-triple-secs and you'll be feeling more like the kamikaze pilots who crashed their planes into ships in World War II. Not what you want to be thinking about on a cruise.
Long Island Iced Tea
You've got to love a cruise line that gives away a cocktail containing five spirits. I tried a couple of these: one was lethal, the other had too much Coke. Defeated, I couldn't finish either, but I blame the fact I'd already had four cocktails that night. Hic!
Finally, something with rum. Unfortunately far too sweet for my liking.
Whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters will grow hairs on your chest. This would be a real man's drink if it weren't for that maraschino cherry. It would also taste much, much better with a premium whiskey instead of the house stuff.
A party in a glass, with optional salt on the rim. Tequila, triple sec and lemon juice sounds deadly yet it goes down far too easily.
A personal favourite (I always order the dirty martini with extra olives). Of course, you can have yours clean, shaken, stirred, with gin or vodka, or whatever which way you like. Olives count as an appetizer before dinner, so it's almost a meal, if you must know.
It's supposed to be made by muddling sugar with bitters, then adding whiskey and a twist of citrus rind. We ordered it in two different bars, seeking redemption, but it was a big, sad fail.
This classic cruise cocktail officially announces you're on holidays! What is it about that summery, icy mix of white rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice? It always works.
Originating in Jamaica, this sure packs a punch with dark rum, lemon juice, grenadine and a dash of angostura bitters. Lots of competing flavours, not sure who won.
A Manhattan made with Scotch, named after the Scottish outlaw for a reason -- it will have you breaking all kinds of rules. Upgrade to a decent dram if you can.
Run, run, run away from this crazy concoction of blackberry and banana liqueurs, orange juice, grenadine and crushed ice. Or depending on your mood, run headfirst into it.
Just like a Greyhound but with a salty rim. It zings and stings, in a good way.
Like a Bay Breeze with vodka and cranberry but with grapefruit juice instead of pineapple, so it's not so sickly. Quite delicious, actually.
It's vodka and orange. Stop trying to make it sound hardcore.
Have you ever drunk tequila at sunrise? It's much nicer at sunset, at the pool bar.
Gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water. Too diluted for a sophisticated palate.
Not painful at all, despite its name. This is fresh and minty, thanks to white creme de menthe.
The pre-mix has none of the balance of fresh lemon juice and sugar. If you're a whiskey sour fan, don't order the one off the free list.
Ending an A-Z with an actual Z is very satisfying, as was this cheeky little beverage of white rum, lime, triple sec and blue curacao. A zen moment, indeed. Clears your mind so you do not think about the hangover.
--By Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor