Many have speculated that, as a measure aimed at limiting the spread of viruses aboard cruise ships, cruise companies will have to make major changes. One proposed change that has struck a nerve with devout cruise travelers is the possibility that cruise lines will eliminate buffet-style dining. After some confusion relating to the matter, a Royal Caribbean executive has definitively affirmed that the cruise line's buffet will remain.
CruiseRadio.net reports that earlier in the year president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley, commented during a Coffee Talk webinar that when the company returns to operations, “there will not be a buffet.” He acknowledged that the ships would use the Windjammer buffet stations, but that "in all probability, it won’t be a classic buffet. It will be something more akin to a restaurant.”
In a subsequent Coffee Talk chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, Richard Fain, walked back Bayley's comments, suggesting instead that the buffet would remain but take on a different form. This apparent contradiction was enough to leave travelers confused, prompting yet another Royal Caribbean executive to weigh in.
In a more recent Coffee Talk webinar Royal Caribbean International’s senior vice president of sales and trade support, Linken D’Souza, reassured travelers that the buffet will remain, though the company still has not decided in what form. He said that Royal Caribbean is considering having employees serve customers at the buffet or alternatively having individual portions that people can self-serve.
With so much confusion around one topic, it is no wonder that cruise companies have yet to return to operations. It has become clear that they must develop plans for thousands of moving parts and develop contingencies for all of them in order to help ensure the safety of passengers and crew. Though Royal Caribbean has slated September 16 as its date to return to operations, it remains yet to be seen if the company will be able to pull it off.