Rainbow Coke? ‘Freestyle Machine’ Gives Royal Caribbean Cruisers 125 Soda Options

July 20, 2012 | By | 13 Comments

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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    13 Responses to “Rainbow Coke? ‘Freestyle Machine’ Gives Royal Caribbean Cruisers 125 Soda Options”

    1. ewalk473
      July 25th, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

      Please NO.. these are time wasting machines. Some folks just need a refill of cola, but now you have to wait 5 minutes while a kid figures out a new designer flavor for the day. These machines have been taken out of many fast food restaurants because it holds up the service line.

    2. Joe
      July 25th, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

      Why not. I’ve seen the Coke dispensers in Burger Kings and they are all the hype says they are. You can get any flavor combo you can imagine.

      I wonder if they will inrease sales of the soda packages. My guess is that it will in the short term at least as the curious will buy in for sure.

    3. Jim Dingwerth
      July 25th, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

      Sounds like a good idea to this soda drinker (at a minimum worth the trial). AMC Theatres uses this technology, and the drinks are fine in all respects (mixing proper concentrate with carbonated water, same flavor). I would reasonably hope that the machines will lighten the load on bartenders whose time is more valuable mixing alcoholic drinks, speeding things up for everyone.

    4. Roberta Gerlach
      July 25th, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

      Actually, a wine dispenser that would offer a taste before you bought a full glass or bottle would be more appealing.

    5. Phill
      July 25th, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

      I have to laugh at the line from your article: “125 combinations.” Yes, being guilty of mixing lemonade and ice tea myself at one of those machines, you seem to over look the kids. My son’s favorite flavor is “suicide” which is the combination of multiple favors: Coke, root beer, orange, etc. I am sure there will be at least one kid trying to get all those sodas, juices, flavored waters as well as the add-on flavors (vanilla, lemon, etc)in that cup. I am sure the lines will back-up behind “that kid.”

    6. Betty Dulasky
      July 25th, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

      For the price you pay for a cruise…especially if you are a whole family going……I think it would be nice if the soda was free. After all….it does not cost that much for it to begin with(made from syrup and carbonated water)! I have been on 17 cruises. Almost all of them, have been specials, that I can afford. Worrying about what you may have to pay extra for, on a ship…is a real downer. And for families w/two or three kids, it can be very expensive!

    7. Jay
      July 26th, 2012 @ 1:30 am

      I think it’s a pretty nice idea. This year, I passed on the beverage package on an 11-night TA crossing, but if I could choose from these flavor possibilities, I might have gone for it.

      Maybe I’m a “techno-babbler”, because I find the micro-dosing and comparison to ink cartridges appealing, since without it, the customized flavors would not be available.

      And, I couldn’t care less about how “cool” the machine looks; I’m a true form-follows-function devotee.

    8. Gregg
      July 27th, 2012 @ 4:10 am

      Looking forward to utilizing one on the Explorer of the Seas in about 5 weeks. Fanta Zero with Fruit Punch or with Lime reminds me of Canada Dry’s Tahitian Treat or Island Lime that I grew up with as a kid, only in an adult diet version. Coke Zero with raspberry is also delicious.
      As far as being stuck behind kids taking their time, you just move on to another machine.

    9. rutgersgirl
      August 5th, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

      If you just need a refill, can’t you go to any bar for one?

      I like these machines. If I’m having a crummy day, I’ll treat myself to a mixture of different diet vanilla sodas. I think this is a great treat :)

    10. Petey Kay
      August 12th, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

      Can’t wait!

    11. royalcruz
      September 9th, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

      I just came off Majesty of the Seas. There were 2 machines that were both in the same location, on the 12th deck, so it wasn’t the most convenient, but I enjoyed having a nice choice of caffeine flavors in the daytime and then would fill up with a caffeine free flavor for the evening. I spent a little more than I would have purchasing 2-3 sodas a day individually but I enjoyed the choices.

    12. Diplomacy
      March 23rd, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

      My main complaint about the soda situation is that I have to go all the way to the prominade to refill that stupid little sippy cup. Second is that the dumb cup is hard to hold for long periods. Too fat, no handle, doesnt even hold much soda.

      From this release, it doesnt sound like they will be addressing these concerns so I could really care less. On the other hand, if I was on the prominade and there was any line whatsoever to use the machine, I’m pretty sure id pick out the nearest bar and jam my sippy cup under the bartender’s nose.

    13. rh
      February 8th, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

      Am wondering about the “sippy cup” – do they not let peopel use large cups if they have them?

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