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The cruise ship of the future has robot bartenders and huge virtual balconies

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Virtual reality views for everyone

Cruise ships have had a rough go of it lately, but Royal Caribbean is debuting some remarkable technology on its long-teased ship that it's hoping can turn things around. It's a little less "poop ship" and a little more science fiction. It's called "Quantum of the Seas," and is a remarkably high-tech vessel. Sure, some of the changes are just keeping up with the hospitality times, like online check-in and RFID luggage tracking. But then you walk aboard the 167,800-ton ship, sit down in the Bionic Bar, place an order on the Windows tablet built specially for the ship, watch a robot bartender mix your drink, and realize you're somewhere a little different than your average hotel.

You can play Xbox Live while you sit in a SeaPod in the SeaPlex (yes, these are all real things), thanks to the ship's apparently broadband-level internet. And in Two70, the huge showroom on the ship, there are six "Roboscreens" that show performances during every cruise, and on Vistarama you'll see huge projections of anything you can think of. There's also a "multidimensional performance spectacle" called Starwater. I don't know what that is. It all sounds a little like a scene out of Wall-E, the all-technology-everything world we fear and desire simultaneously. It sounds pretty wild.

Every room has USB charging ports (hey, it's the little things), and an 80-inch "virtual balcony" that lets you see the view even if you don't have one. The crew has tablets and apps specifically designed for this ship, and even the ship itself is designed to more efficiently use power and lighting. Basically, "Quantum of the Seas" takes the nerd cruise to an entirely new level for the 4,180 passengers at any given time.

The new ship debuts in November, sailing mostly in China, and the second Quantum-class Royal Carribbean ship is coming next year. Maybe the cruise industry is due for a reboot.

Bionic bar