Soda junkies take note. Whether you’re a fan of obscure Coca-Cola products like Fanta Zero and Mellow Yellow or you love funky flavored drinks like orange Coke, grape Sprite or cherry-vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper, Royal Caribbean may soon be the cruise line for you.
As of June, these flavors and more are available on Majesty of the Seas, care of the Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine, a touch-screen unit that dispenses 125 flavors of Coke products. By 2013, all Royal Caribbean ships will have the machine, versions of which have been appearing on land since 2009.
The machines allow passengers with RFID-chipped cups — the souvenir recepticles handed out to those who purchase unlimited soda packages — to taste test their way through the 125 combinations of sodas, juices and flavored waters.
According to Royal Caribbean President and CEO Adam Goldstein, the current pricing of the soda package — which typically runs in the $6.50 per day range — will not be increased due to the rollout of the machines.
Without the chip, however, it’s unclear whether the machines will work. We’ve reached out by e-mail to ask if those without the packages will be able to get their exotic fizz fix.
The freestyle machines were first tested on Allure of the Seas way back in November 2010 and according to Goldstein were “very, very popular.”
Frankly, I’m not sure I see the appeal.
Bob Midyette, Royal Caribbean’s director of fleet beverage operations, describes the machine as sexy and uber cool. “Using medical micro dosing technology flavor cartridges just slightly larger than those of the standard ink jet printer opened a world of flavors never available before,” he wrote on Goldstein’s blog.
Medical micro dosing? Ink jet printer cartridges? Only techno-babblers would find that appealing. And honestly, I’m not sure I want to imbibe anything squeezed out of a flavor cartridge.
But if the response from the message boards is any indication, Royal fans and soda-nistas are definitely pleased with the arrival of Freestyle. The only disappointment is the time it’s taken to add them — especially as they were first trialed so long ago. Apparently, it’s taken a couple of years to find a way to customize the machines so that they meet marine health codes. Secondly, the machines also had to be refitted with RFID (radio frequency identification) capability so that purchasers of the soda packages can use them.
Goldstein offered a rough schedule for the 2012 rollout, though he added, “due to possible unforeseen delays, this date may shift.” The current schedule is as follows: Explorer of the Seas (August), Freedom of the Seas (September), Oasis of the Seas (October), Allure of the Seas (November) and Enchantment of the Seas (December). The number of machines on any given ship will depend on ship size, but Goldstein said, “The initial deployment schedule will target high-volume areas and select common areas inside. We may add more, or move locations once we see the realities of traffic flow and guest use.”
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