Another cruise line plans a robot bartender — and this time it’ll almost look human

Feb 12, 2021

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You’ll soon be able to have a drink on a cruise ship mixed by a human-shaped robot bartender.

MSC Cruises on Thursday announced that its next new vessel, MSC Virtuosa, will have what it’s calling the “first-ever humanoid, robotic bartender at sea”.

To be called Rob (that’s short for robot, of course), the never-tiring drink slinger will preside over a futuristic lounge called the MSC Starship Club.

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Just to be clear, while Rob will have a humanoid shape, you shouldn’t expect anything as sophisticated as the Michael Sheen robot bartender character in the 2016 film “Passengers”.

But MSC Cruises does say Rob will be able to speak eight languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese) and have “a clear personality that evolves with the surrounding setting and atmosphere”.

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The MSC Starship Club on the MSC Cruises ship MSC Virtuosa. (Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises)

Rob will use his LED face “to convey emotion so guests can enjoy his performance while sipping their cocktails”, MSC Cruises said in its announcement.

MSC Cruises isn’t the first line to add a robot bartender to a cruise ship, of course. Royal Caribbean is famous for the Bionic Bars on several of its ships that have robot bartenders.

Related: The ultimate guide to MSC Cruises

But the “robots” in Royal Caribbean’s Bionic Bars are not humanoid. They’re just mechanical arms that are programmed to make drinks to order.

The Bionic Bar on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The first Bionic Bar debuted in 2014 on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, and they have since been added to four more ships: Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas.

The MSC Starship Club where Rob will be based will be inspired by MSC Cruises’ vision of the spaceship of the future, the line said. It’ll have a futuristic atmosphere with 3D holograms, an immersive digital art wall and a 12-seat digital interactive table.

The latter will give passengers “the opportunity to explore space with their own personalized galactic tour,” MSC Cruises said.

Meet Rob, you’re new favourite cruise ship bartender. (Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises)

While mixing and serving drinks, Rob will engage with and speak with passengers, the line added.

Rob’s first day on the job will be April 16, 2021 — the day MSC Virtuosa debuts. Or, at least, that’s the plan. With the current coronavirus-related shutdown of most cruising around the world, Rob’s true start date may be a bit up in the air.

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MSC Cruises said it took the company nearly six years of work with leading robotics and automation experts to develop Rob and his spacey surroundings.

MSC Virtuosa is scheduled to sail in the Mediterranean briefly when it first debuts in April, with a series of three-, four- and five-night voyages. It’ll then redeploy to Northern Europe for the summer of 2021 for a range of itineraries to the Norwegian fjords and Baltic capital cities.

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Featured image courtesy of MSC Cruises.

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