Business Insider Edition

The world's largest cruise ship has a bar with robot bartenders. Here's how my margarita compared to one made by a human.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller , Business Insider US
 Nov 10, 2019, 08:49 PM
One of the robots getting liquor in order to make a drink.
Sophie-Claire Hoeller
  • Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship.
  • It features the Bionic Bar, a bar manned entirely by two robots.
  • I used an iPad to order a margarita, and it was tasty, but a little weak.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The world's largest cruise ship is filled with surprises, from a working carousel to a zip line and even a Starbucks, but one of the wildest things on it is undoubtedly the Bionic Bar - a fully functioning cocktail bar staffed entirely by two robot bartenders.

I recently took a cruise in the name of journalism, and just had to find out whether cyborg concoctions taste as good as human-made ones.

Keep scrolling for the full experience.


Welcome to the Bionic Bar, a bar staffed entirely by two robot bartenders.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Their names are Rock 'Em and Sock 'Em, respectively.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

The arms' movements are modeled after those of Marco Pelle, a dancer from the New York Theatre Ballet.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

The bar features 30 different spirits, all of which are suspended from the ceiling above the robot bartenders.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Coupled with 21 different mixers, these robots can make a practically endless amount of different drinks. They can also make two drinks per minute.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

To order a drink, you tap your SeaPass card (your room key, which doubles as your credit card onboard as you accrue expenses for the duration of the trip) on an iPad that is also a menu.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

You then type in your date of birth before scrolling through a seemingly endless list of drinks.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Drinks are visually broken down by ingredient, so you can see exactly how much of everything you're getting — it is measured by robots, after all.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

I ordered a margarita, which ended up costing $14.16 (R208).

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Then I waited.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Screens on either side of the robots show fun facts (that day's most ordered drink was the Bionic Bahama Mama) ...

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

... as well as the queue ...

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... and the estimated wait time.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

When your drink is up, a robot arm will acquire all of the ingredients and add them to a metal shaker of sorts.

One of the robots getting liquor in order to make a drink.
Sophie-Claire Hoeller

It will then either stir, shake, strain, or muddle the ingredients.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

It then pours the drink into a plastic cup it had previously grabbed from the back.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

When your drink is done (the screen will let you know when and where), you tap your SeaPass to unlock it, allowing it to slide down to you.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

That way, no one else can accidentally (or purposely) take your drink.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

It looks like a margarita! It even had slices of lime in it.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

The verdict?

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Pretty good! It could have been a little stronger, in my opinion, but it was definitely a solid margarita.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

That said, it lacks the heart of a human-made drink, as well as the ear of a real-life bartender.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller

The pros are that there's no squeezing through a crowd to get to a stressed-out bartender, no playing favourites, and totally consistent drinks, as well as the showmanship, of course.

I love a good gimmick and this was a super fun experience - but for my next drink, I'll be seeking out a human.

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