Cruise Ship Law, Maritime Law

Are Robots Taking Over the Cruise Industry? Our Lawyer Has the Scoop


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

Robotic bartenders on Quantum of the SeasWe’ve all seen our fair share of sci-fi movies where some kind of creature or artificially intelligent creature is taking over the planet. Though these flicks can sometimes leave us with the tiniest bit of curiosity over whether any of the extraordinary events detailed on the Big Screen can actually occur in real life, in the end, we know it’s just the magic of the movies taking over our thoughts – or is it?

A recent revelation regarding the cruise industry has left us thinking otherwise. And maybe, just maybe, robots might be staking their claim over humans after all. Well, at least where the cruise industry is concerned.

If you’re the kind of reader that cringes at the idea of mechanical beings roaming amongst the living, then look away. But if you’re brave enough to venture into the future of cruise travel with us, then buckle up, you’re in for quite a ride.

Land lovers fear not; it appears that robots only want to exercise control at sea aboard the Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum of the Seas cruise ship. According to Royal Caribbean, the Quantum is the world’s first “smart ship”, boasting the latest and greatest technology, including robot bartenders.

So, how exactly is that going to work? Well, passengers who are in the mood for an alcoholic beverage can head to the “Bionic Bar,” where they will place their drink orders on a tablet. Then, the robot bartenders will mix up the cocktails and serve them up. Pretty cool, right?

And that’s not even the most impressive part. According to Royal Caribbean, the robots can each serve one drink per minute, which adds up to about 1,000 drinks a day.

But are these robots all they’re cracked up to be?

For Royal Caribbean, the robot bartenders are surely a win. They can serve up drinks at a much faster rate than human bartenders, which equates to a larger volume of alcohol sales and more money for the cruise line. Additionally, the sheer novelty of having your drink served by a robot is a huge attention grabber for guests, which means passengers are more likely to order drinks just so they can experience what it’s like to be served by a robot. But from the standpoint of an attorney who understands that, sometimes, cruise lines fail to abide by maritime safety statutes, the robots could spell disaster for cruisers and interfere with passenger safety on board.

For one, it is highly likely there will be many more intoxicated passengers roaming the decks of the Quantum of the Seas. Cruise lines make a huge chunk of their sales from alcohol purchases on board, so they often encourage passengers to purchase alcohol packages or additional drinks. If human bartenders don’t supervise guests to determine when they’ve had one too many so they can cut them off, how exactly are robots going to do this? Are the robots just going to keep serving drink after drink to passengers without limit? Is there a system in place on the tablets that will stop passengers from ordering above a certain number of drinks to avoid over-intoxication? With as fast as the robots are going to be serving up drinks, this could potentially lead to a lot of inebriated passengers.

Furthermore, unless a human crew member is going to be standing guard to make sure underage guests aren’t ordering drinks on someone else’s tab, who’s to stop teens from getting alcohol? The robots aren’t going to know who they’re serving the drinks to – unless they are so hi-tec they’ve got some kind of visual sensor that lets them tell the difference between a teen and an adult – so an underage passenger may be able to obtain alcohol without a hitch.

Ok, so maybe robots aren’t really taking over the cruise industry. But that doesn’t mean the dangers associated with the robot bartenders aren’t a real threat to passenger safety. Hopefully, Royal Caribbean will have anticipated all these potential hazards and will have a strict system in place that will prevent alcohol sales to minors, limit the number of drinks that passengers can order to avoid over-intoxication, and ensure that human crew members are standing by to make sure things are running smoothly.

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