How Drunk Will Self-Service Make Cruises?

star5112, Flickr

Not only are cruises working on being more transparent and increasing your safety, they’re also committed to making sure a non-stop party is always within reach. We’re talking about self-service.

Not laundry silly; pouring your own drinks. Don’t worry, you’re not expected to replace the bartender, but on cruise lines like Norwegian, Carnival and and Celebrity Cruises you can now find wine dispensers.

Built on the idea that at home, if you’re in the mood for a drink you can just go pour yourself one, the dispensers allow travelers to get their own libations whenever they want to.There is of course no mention of how drinks are limited, which begs the question: how drunk are cruisers likely to get? That depends on how easy it is to use the dispensers. While wine dispensers are fairly simple for the general public to use, beer is another story. On Carnival, travelers have access to a tap that serves both Budweiser and Carnival’s own branded beer, but it’s helpful to have some experience pouring from an actual tap. No one likes a glass full of foam after all.

But once travelers have mastered the art of pouring from a tap, the possibilities of self-serve could actually be quite promising. In terms of wine, on Norwegian the wine dispensers allow passengers to sample small tastes of wine that otherwise would run up the bill. “The whole philosophy behind this with wine is pretty cool and on the beer side too when you start talking about craft beers, the idea of trying a small sampling. You could try two ounces of Opus One (the Bordeaux blend) and it’s not $200 per bottle,” Court told USA Today.

And when it comes to beer, what’s to stop cruise lines from serving artisan craft brews on tap? The future of cruise drinking is bright.

Photo of the Day: Beer Run

craft beers
edwin.bautista, Flickr

Our friends over at AOL Travel are kicking off Booze Week, a toast to the role booze plays in the grand scheme of travel. To help celebrate, this week’s photo features will follow the Booze Week theme. We’re starting off with a selection of craft beers, sourced from various breweries around the country.

What’s your favorite craft beer to enjoy while you’re traveling?

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

Eating And Drinking In Valencia: Fartons, Paella And Orange-Flavored Cava

Valencia
Sean McLachlan

A holiday in Spain is all about the food. Oh, and there’s the art, the nightlife, the beaches, the countryside, the beautiful people, but really it’s all about the food. It’s one of the great world cuisines, and as you eat your way around the country you find some amazing regional variations.

I’ve just spent the last three days chowing down in Valencia on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Valencia is the name of both a region and that region’s largest city. Their cuisine is famous even among the Spaniards, not the least because the national dish paella originated in Valencia. The saffron-infused rice mixed with seafood or meat is a staple here, and Valenicans say they make the only true paella, all others being arroz con cosas (“rice with things”).

So is Valencian paella the only true paella? I don’t know, but it’s damn good. And it comes in many varieties that are hard to find elsewhere. The one shown here is pretty standard, in the sense of “awesome in the usual way.” If you notice, though, you’ll see that half the base isn’t rice but pasta. Valencia has long historical ties to Italy and I sense an Italian flair to a lot of the cooking here. Another paella I tried was Arroz de Señoret, in which the shrimp was already peeled. Sort of a lazy man’s paella.

%Slideshow-3070%Of course there’s plenty more on the Valencian plate. Another local delicacy is orxata, which is pronounced and looks like horchata from Mexico. While the Mexican drink can be made from many things, usually rice, the Valencian drink is always made with tigernuts. It’s often served with a farton. Once you stop snickering about the name (it took me a while) you’ll find it to be sort of like a glazed donut shaped like a bread stick. It’s good for dipping in the orxata.

In addition to local specialties, Valencia has plenty of what makes Spanish cuisine in general famous: good cheese, endless varieties of pork and, of course, the famous Valencian oranges.

Those oranges get put into a favorite local drink, agua de Valencia, which is a refreshing mix of orange juice and cava (Spanish champagne). It’s a perfect drink while sitting at an outdoor cafe on a hot day. Beware: many of the more touristy places charge hefty amounts for a pitcher of orange juice with only trace amounts of cava.

While the region of Valencia is not as famous for wine as regions such as Rioja, wine production is expanding and both their red and white whites are beginning to gain more respect and distribution. They’re also producing a large number of craft beers. The national beers in Spain are all mediocre lagers, perfectly good on a hot day but not satisfying for your typical beer snob. Now microbreweries are cropping up in Valencia and other regions and making pale ales, brown ales, bitters, wheat beers and all the other styles typically found in more northern countries.

So if you find yourself on Spain’s southwestern coast, check out Valencia. Your stomach will thank you.

8 Ways To Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month

beer glass
Allison Park, Flickr

Ever since Henry Weinhard opened his brewery in 1856, Oregon has had a taste for beer. Since then, the state has made a name for itself in the beer world. It’s one of the states with the most breweries per capita and Portland itself is home to the largest craft brewing market in the United States. Talk to any Oregonian and the topic of beer will inevitably come up; when you’re from a state that has over 135 brewing companies it’s hard not to.

Which makes it no surprise that the state also has its own designated Craft Beer Month. Summer on the west coast just got a whole lot more attractive didn’t it?

Love beer? Love Oregon? You might want to consider celebrating. Here’s how.

1. Go to a festival
Oregon Brewer’s Festival, this year held July 24-28, is one of Portland’s favorite events, and with good reason: it features over 80 craft beers from around the country and your chance to get to know a handful of them quite intimately. If that’s not good enough for you, Portland International Beer Festival is just a few days before.

2. Plan a road trip that involves at least five breweries
OK, granted you could stay in Portland and probably stand on a street corner and spot five breweries, but you could also plan a road trip across the state to hit up some of the famous breweries, as well as some of the lesser-known ones. The Oregon Brewers Guild has a map that makes doing that quiet simple. You’ll only be constrained by how far you want to drive and what you want to drink.

3. Buy beer and other assorted goods
Don’t have plans for Fourth of July yet? You may want to consider stocking up on brews and various beer paraphernalia at Rogue Brewery’s Fourth of July Sale, taking place at all of their locations (there are eight).

4. Plan a weekend of “research”
Even if you can’t visit Oregon, you can still do some beer research. Start with this year’s 50 Best Oregon Beers and see which ones you can get in your home state. And when you find one that’s not available, book a ticket out west immediately.

5. Run and drink
A sporty town like Portland wouldn’t think twice about drinking and running, which is why there are such things like the Craft Dash, perfect for runners with a hankering for a pre-, during and post-race IPA.

6. Bike and drink
In Bend you can get on the Cycle Pub and work your way around town while drinking and pedaling, and in Portland you can check out the Oregon Brewery Trail bike tour. After all, in this state, bikes and beers go hand in hand.

7. Try a new style of beer
From sour beers (you’ll want to be at Puckerfest) to smoked varieties, there’s probably a variety of beer or two that you haven’t tried – and it’s about time you did.

8. Learn how to homebrew
It should come as no surprise that Oregon has its own homebrew club – brewing since 1979 of course – and if you have ever been interested in making your own beer, Oregon might be the place to start. Check out Portland’s Homebrew Exchange, which sells all kinds of homebrewing supplies. At Uptown Market you can sign up for a bi-weekly homebrewing class. All you ever needed to know in order to kick off those craft brews at home.