As cruise line executives plan a return to cruising, they face an uphill battle with respect to keeping their passengers safe. Cruise ships were already the sites of frequent illness outbreaks before the coronavirus pandemic, particularly outbreaks involving norovirus. Now industry executives will have to ensure that the vessels remain free of all virus outbreaks, which will require a departure from their previous standard operating procedures.
CruiseRadio.com reports that last week Royal Caribbean's President and CEO, Michael Bayley, signaled that the company may do away with its buffet, titled the Windjammer, in an effort to help prevent contamination of foods and any attending spread of viruses. "[I]n the beginning, there will not be a buffet,” he said as he speculated that instead the food service would be more like a restaurant.
Fans of Royal Caribbean took to internet forums to complain about the proposed change. Perhaps this surge of customer interest reached the ear of company executives because this week the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, Richard Fain, indicated that the company may not retire the Windjammer after all.
Talking to Vicki Freed of Coffee Chat, Fain indicated that though the buffet may change some, he believes that it will remain. “[I]t doesn’t mean that you don’t have a buffet. You might have it where all of that is served to you by other people. And there [are] other possibilities. But the point is that it will evolve," he said.
Fain suggested that the cruise industry will undergo changes, much as the airline industry did after 9/11. Fain said he still does not know exactly how the industry will change, but that “It’s not going to be exactly as it was before.”