Nothing says I’m back in the USA like the large Diet Coke I ordered at an airport kiosk that’s brimming with ice, half a gallon at least, and rocking a thick lemon slice. I never figured out if in the Caribbean ice was the luxury or the soda—did bartenders serve me two ice cubes in a glass so I would get my money’s worth of soda or were they trying to save the ice for all the rum-blended drinks?
On the cruise I popped for the bubbles sticker, a flat rate per day for all the soda and juice you could drink. You’re charged for every day of the trip, including the first and last day of the cruise, which I think should count as one day since I couldn’t get a Diet Coke to save my life the morning we disembarked. We immediately dubbed them bublé cards. (Even sober, when you’re on vacation, things tend to make less sense later on.)
I paid for four bublé stickers all at once and almost fainted at the total, more than the GNP of many of the small island nations we visited, but I figured if everyone in our family only drank two glasses a day, we’d break even. At less than a can a glass, I knew I’d be drinking more than two.
My daughter delighted in ordering root beer, which always confused the bartenders. Earnest Filipinos and Malaysians would hold up Dr. Pepper and other drinks while she shook her head and pointed at the dusty case of Barq’s in the back. I swear it was loaded on the ship back in 2010 by mistake. My son drank a ton of ginger ale. Bartenders know that one by heart.
The cruise ship had an adult beverage version of the bublé sticker that started at $50 a day, depending on your poison. Suddenly, my Diet Coke pass didn’t seem so expensive.
It’s all a matter of perspective. After a week in the Caribbean even airport prices looked good.