Royal Caribbean has announced they plan to roll out "ValidFill" soda dispensers fleetwide, starting with the Freedom Of The Seas. These dispensers will sense a microchip on the souvenir mug people receive when they buy a soda package. No need to show your soda stamp or wait for a bartender or waiter. I have no doubt this is good news to the bar staff, who secretly hate the soda program.
The dispensers will be on the pool deck of Freedom, so if you are elsewhere on the ship you'll still be able to go to a bar and show them your SeaPass card with it's soda stamp. And of course to use the dispenser you will have no choice but to use the souvenir cup, so it you want a bar glass of soda you'll have to do it the old fashioned way.
This will help cut down on crowds of kids dive bombing a bar. Good idea RCI.
No time line has been announced as to when this will be rolled out.
I wonder how this will be abused? I hate to say it, but someone can use the souvenir cup to get soda while the person with the stamp on their cruise card goes to the bar and gets one. I have to think they have some plan to control it.
I see this being greatly abused. I'm not an advocate of people bringing on their own soda either. The cruise lines still offer great pricing for a cruise and they have to make it up in on board revenue. The more people try to cheat the system it will only hurt the price of cruises in the long run. Perhaps we'll eventually see them embed the cost of soda back into the cost of the cruise. I see this being a lot more waste also. Lots of 1/2 full cokes sitting around from children going up and getting their own coke.
They have to use the souvenir mug to activate the fountain, but I can see people using the mug as a pitcher, filling up other glasses and then running back to fill the mug up again. Knowing RCI, I have to think they have "a plan". We'll see.
I'd love to see the machine they are going to use. Even though fountain syrup is less costly than cans, there is a waste factor to consider. If I recall one of the restaurants I worked at tried this. The syrup cost averaged around 20% more than when servers gave the refills. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Thanks for the report, influence. Like I said earlier in this thread, I'll be on the Freedom in October, so if they make any improvements / changes between now and then, I'll make sure to check out that area and let you know how it goes.
2007 - Majesty of the Seas
2009 - Enchantment of the Seas
2010 - Freedom of the Seas