Monday, December 31, 2012

Caribbean Cruise - The Diet Soda Debacle

If you missed any of the other installments, you can find them here:

Day 1 - Boarding in Galveston
Day 2 - At sea
Day 3 - Cozumel


Let's take a minute here and talk about the availability of something M could drink besides water on the cruise.

M is hypoglycemic, so he avoids sugar.  No full sugar soda for him.  No lemonade.  Even 100% fruit juice is something he tries to avoid.

On recommendation of his doctor for health reasons and as a personal choice, M doesn't drink caffeine.  No coke.  No coffee.  No regular tea.  No ice tea.

Near as we could guess, there wasn't going to be much left that M could drink besides water, so we tried to bring some diet caffeine-free soda on board.  Everything we read seemed to be very split as to whether or not they would let you do this.  On all the boards we checked, some people said yes, some said no.  We threw a 12-pack into one of our bags and went for it.

The bag didn't make it to our stateroom that first night.  We had to go down to claim our bag along with all the people who had smuggled booze on board.  The rules were pretty clear about not bringing alcohol on board, but they weren't very clear about soda. Nonetheless we had to get into the line of shame and then have our cans of soda confiscated, to be returned on the last night of the cruise.

Showing a rare rebellious streak, M went straight up to the guest services desk to ask them what exactly he could drink on board if they wouldn't let him bring his own diet caffeine-free soda.  Because in all honesty, if they reliably sold something he could have, he would buy it.  We only brought the soda because we suspected there would be nothing.

We were almost right.  After he cited a lot of options that were in fact either NOT sugar-free or NOT caffeine-free, the guy at the guest services desk finally concluded that M could drink the hot herbal tea and that some of the bars somewhere might possibly carry Sprite Zero by the can.

(The last day of the cruise, we decided we missed carbonation and we had some shipboard credit to blow, so I tried to track down one of these elusive Sprite Zeros.  The first bar they sent me to could barely figure out what I wanted.  Then the bartender disappeared for a long time.  I don't know where he went, but I suspect he went to ask someone else what to tell me.  In the end he said they were out but to try the bar in the casino.  The casino was DISGUSTINGLY smoky, but apparently I was desperate.  I went down there and after a little bit of confusion again, they also concluded they were out and sent us to a third bar.  This last bar finally had 2 cans of Sprite Zero for $2.25 apiece.  I suppose you could call it a victory.)

We went away from the guest services desk grumbling that there was nothing for M to drink (this was the only thing even CLOSE to a bad customer service experience we had the whole week, I might add). It didn't help when we ran into other people on board happily carrying brands of soda the ship didn't carry.  We'd ask them and they'd tell us that they just brought them in their bag because they knew that brand wouldn't be on board.  I guess we just got unlucky.  If there's one thing more annoying that overly-strict rules, it's overly-strict rules that are inconsistently enforced.  Hmph.

And then, about 4 days into the cruise, I finally noticed that the flavored waters available at the buffet were calorie-free. So what if they weren't carbonated!  They weren't just water!  In fact, there were even 3 different flavors to choose from.  Too bad no one thought to mention this to us when we'd asked.  I had been happily drinking them for days, having no idea that they were sugar-free and M could have been enjoying them too!  Suffice it to say that M's thirst was much better quenched the second half of the cruise.

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