Royal Caribbean: Buffet sailing into sunset

 

Royal Caribbean's top leaders have confirmed industry buzz: When the ships sail again, it will be without the iconic huge buffets that have been a mainstay of many ships for decades, and it's unclear whether they will ever be back.

CEO Michael Bayley pointed to hygiene changes that will mark many aspects of cruising, possibly for years. "I think in the beginning, there will not be a buffet…that's how I see it," Bayley said in a virtual press conference. " We will utilize the space, we will utilize the Windjammer, but in all probability, it won't be a classical buffet. It will be something more akin to a restaurant."

The reaction on Cruise Critic, a large on-line community of cruise fans, has been mixed. One poster pointed to another cruise ship health issue saying "Why can't they just use servers like they do when there's a Noro outbreak onboard?" and another complained "Oh man... that's the last plastic straw! What's next... no bars?"

But others seem pleased at the possibility it won't be back. One posted "I find the experience of eating at Windjammer restaurants and other buffets somewhat disgusting and only eat there reluctantly if there is absolutely no other choice. Eating becomes a competition and a race instead of an experience to enjoy."

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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RC WALKING IT BACK

Royal Caribbean is backing away from statements last week by two top execs that when cruising returns it will be minus the popular Windjammer buffet.

But now, after extensive pushback from loyal cruisers, some of whom threatened to go elsewhere, the company's CEO Richard Fain put a different spin on the plan, saying "It doesn't mean that you don't have a buffet," said Fain, noting that the Windjammer offering could remain as-is, but with waiter-driven table service as opposed to self-service options where passengers would handle common serving utensils. "I think it's very likely that you're not going to see that on land or sea," he said of shared serving utensils.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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