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A week after saying that there would be no buffets onboard Royal Caribbean ships when they return to service, the company now seems to be backpedaling from that statement.

At the same time, however, they ask that people be patient while not only Royal Caribbean but the industry as a whole tries to figure out the best — and safest — ways in which to move forward.

“We’ll See Things That Are Different”

windjammer buffet royal caribbean

Windjammer, Quantum of the Seas (Photo via Royal Caribbean)

Last week, during a talk with travel advisors known as Coffee Chat, Michael Bayley — President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises — was asked directly about how they might handle the Windjammer buffet area. “We’ve got teams working on every single element of the guest experience,” he replied, “and we obviously have a team working on the buffet.”

After stating that, “in the beginning, there will not be a buffet,” he added that the cruise line would utilize the Windjammer, but in all probability, it won’t be a classic buffet. It will be something more akin to a restaurant.”

READ MORE: Cruise Line Consider Ditching Traditional Buffet 

Fast-forward seven days, and the company was telling a slightly different story during the next edition of the weekly chatfest.

This time, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited was the guest of Coffee Chat host and Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed.

Fain indicated that “some of the press” were suggesting the buffet would “go from one thing that we’ve had for decades and suddenly morph into something very different.”

Exec Says The Buffet “Will Evolve”

windjammer buffet quantum of the seas royal caribbean

Windjammer, Quantum of the Seas. (Photo via Royal Caribbean)

Continuing the discussion about buffets, the exec said that when it came to venues where “everybody reaches in and everybody touches the same tongs,” that was something “you’re not going to see on land or sea.”

However, he added, “it 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.”

Fain then went on to compare the changes we’re likely to see in the future to those which unfolded after 9/11. “If you remember after [that],” he explained, “all of a sudden you had to do a strip search at the airport. You couldn’t take a bottle of water on the plane.”

As a result, he continued, “a lot of people said, ‘Nobody’s ever going to fly. Who’s going to want to go on an airplane?'” Yet as a people, we adjusted to the changes which were implemented following those world-shattering events. “Airplane travel didn’t end,” he reminded the audience. “In fact, it grew. But it evolved. So it isn’t the same when you go today. You do go through security checks, and you do go through identity checks and frankly, we’ve become accustomed to it and the technology has helped make it easier.”

The same, he said, will eventually happen in the cruise industry. “It’s not going to be exactly as it was before,” he concluded. As to exactly how things will change, it’s likely we won’t actually know until the ships return to service.

As of now, Royal Caribbean hopes to begin sailing again on August 1. But as has proven true with all of the cruise lines, even that is up in the air.

 

“That’s a heavy responsibility,” Fain said of making sure that every precaution is being taken to guarantee the health and safety of guests and crew members. “The one thing we won’t do is rush to judgment on that. We will not go back before we’re comfortable.”

 

As for when details of what life on cruise ships will be like upon that return, Fain indicates we may just have to wait for that answer.

Acknowledging that it’s the question on everybody’s mind, Fain admitted they’re being “a little bit careful” when it comes to saying too much too soon. “I like to see things as an entire picture, not as jigsaw pieces,” he said. “I think it’s important to look at it as a coherent whole.”

 

 

 
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3 minutes ago, taglovestocruise said:

Fain then went on to compare the changes we’re likely to see in the future to those which unfolded after 9/11. “If you remember after [that],” he explained, “all of a sudden you had to do a strip search at the airport.

"Strip Search at the airport?  Huh?  Is Fain suggesting they will do strip searches before allowing folks to board a ship?

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If there's two things I know about (mass market) cruising, it's that buffets and casinos aren't going away. Casinos make too much money. Buffets are efficient and cost-effective ways of serving thousands of people.

 

If anything, the biggest change you'll see is who's allowed to touch what, and what the protocols are.

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Not sure when we'll get back to cruising, but I've always felt a bit of an "ick" factor with buffets.  Perhaps if passengers were not the ones using the tongs, that would be more sanitary.  

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7 minutes ago, yogimax said:

"Strip Search at the airport?  Huh?  Is Fain suggesting they will do strip searches before allowing folks to board a ship?

Haha, hoping Your reply was meant as a very "tongue in cheek" question

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I'm not sure it was ever intended that the "buffet" would go away. Just the defined version where passengers serve themselves. The other version, of course, is where a room or counter is provided serving a variety of foods but without passengers serving themselves. That certainly is what the new "buffet" system can be all about. No big deal to make that change. 

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32 minutes ago, yogimax said:

"Strip Search at the airport?  Huh?  Is Fain suggesting they will do strip searches before allowing folks to board a ship?

Yet another reason to diet before cruising .

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I did not think they would go away totally.  Won't be surprised at all if you make your selections and someone puts it on your plate for you vs you picking it up yourself.  I am fine with that.

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So much speculation about what will or won't happen. No one really knows at this point in time. It is going to be so interesting to read reviews from those "guinea pigs" who go on the first cruise when they restart😊 Hopefully all goes well so that I can go on my cruise in October.

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2 hours ago, yogimax said:
2 hours ago, taglovestocruise said:

Fain then went on to compare the changes we’re likely to see in the future to those which unfolded after 9/11. “If you remember after [that],” he explained, “all of a sudden you had to do a strip search at the airport.

"Strip Search at the airport?  Huh?  Is Fain suggesting they will do strip searches before allowing folks to board a ship?

At this rate, boarding the cruise, which was, until now, far more pleasant than the requisite cavity search at the airport, will become almost as unpleasant.  Does anyone get the stupidity of cruises that call in the Med in the Summer, or Caribbean all year, who take your temperature each time you board after day in the heat in port including embarkation day?  What are they calibrating thermal scanners to?  103?  You'd have half the people in quarantine by dinner.  I think we have to let this play out, and hope there is a good way to manage this situation that strikes a balance between screening and ensuring boarding can happen smoothly and within the same time frames, particularly once underway.  We already have "just enough" time in ports.  If it takes another hour to get off and another to board, it stops being worth it to cruise at all.  What's anyone doing with 5 hours in Livorno?

 

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Oh, how wonderful.

 

An endless buffet of food after quarantining on your rear end for 6 months. Our country is doomed.

 

The choice between covid and heart disease is a difficult one for some, I presume?

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Posted (edited)

All the Security didnt change on 9/12. Was on Cruise week of 9/11 with my kids. In Orlando in Oct2001 when Anthrax scare hit there and got off Cruise in Dec2001, flying home day of Shoe Bomber. Until that day in Dec didnt take my shoes off and could still take liquids through Security onthat day. Shoot flew to Florida and Boarded a Cruise in Feb2002 with BC and Marriage Licence, as my Ex forgot her Wallet/ID(had my ID). Point is most stuff was added LATER!   ....After Royals announcement other day I said WJ still be there. At most might have have plate filled at the stations by Servers, at most Waiters at Tables. Which those are how you ate in WJ when I first started Cruising on Royal. They even had Waiter at Dinner, Menus and Table Cloths then. Though also still see that Freestyle Coke Machines used by passengers to stop. Crew will have fill one use cup, and/or go back to getting Bar Fountain Coke only 

Edited by ONECRUISER

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20 minutes ago, jknc said:

Oh, how wonderful.

 

An endless buffet of food after quarantining on your rear end for 6 months. Our country is doomed.

 

The choice between covid and heart disease is a difficult one for some, I presume?

What a stupid comment.

You may have been sitting on your rear end for the past couple of months but I can tell you there are plenty of motivated people out there that have been exercising more than ever.

It's all about motivation and commitment to looking after your body and staying healthy.

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37 minutes ago, rich_cathybrock said:

At this rate, boarding the cruise, which was, until now, far more pleasant than the requisite cavity search at the airport, will become almost as unpleasant.  Does anyone get the stupidity of cruises that call in the Med in the Summer, or Caribbean all year, who take your temperature each time you board after day in the heat in port including embarkation day?  What are they calibrating thermal scanners to?  103?  You'd have half the people in quarantine by dinner.  I think we have to let this play out, and hope there is a good way to manage this situation that strikes a balance between screening and ensuring boarding can happen smoothly and within the same time frames, particularly once underway.  We already have "just enough" time in ports.  If it takes another hour to get off and another to board, it stops being worth it to cruise at all.  What's anyone doing with 5 hours in Livorno?

 

When I flew from JFK to New Orleans in March 2002 there was zero security .I hold the people employees at the terminal that there was a greater security check at my local library.

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A bigger health hazard issue than the buffets is allowing people to refill water bottles.

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27 minutes ago, ONECRUISER said:

All the Security didnt change on 9/12. Was on Cruise week of 9/11 with my kids. In Orlando in Oct2001 when Anthrax scare hit there and got off Cruise in Dec2001, flying home day of Shoe Bomber. Until that day in Dec didnt take my shoes off and could still take liquids through Security onthat day. Shoot flew to Florida and Boarded a Cruise in Feb2002 with BC and Marriage Licence, as my Ex forgot her Wallet/ID(had my ID). Point is most stuff was added LATER!   ....After Royals announcement other day I said WJ still be there. At most might have have plate filled at the stations by Servers, at most Waiters at Tables. Which those are how you ate in WJ when I first started Cruising on Royal. They even had Waiter at Dinner, Menus and Table Cloths then. Though also still see that Freestyle Coke Machines used by passengers to stop. Crew will have fill one use cup, and/or go back to getting Bar Fountain Coke only 

I see freestyle coke machines not being self service . I would hate for them to go away completely- I loved the never ending choices. Only time will tell. 

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I predict that the food will be pre-plated and you’ll just grab and go.

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18 minutes ago, spunks said:

A bigger health hazard issue than the buffets is allowing people to refill water bottles.

 

Why is that?  I would say everyone that eats in the buffet will touch almost all the serving utensils.

 

The number of people using the bottle filling is far less iMHO.   Then the contact surface interaction is far lower.  

 

When you eat you almost always touch the serving utensils, your plate, etc.   then napkin with you hands and likely your mouth etc.    Bottle much less you'd touch side and a small portion of the side touch the dispenser, a risk yes, much less IMHO.

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11 minutes ago, Newleno said:

Bacon is back....  (fixed it for ya)

 

Yeah, I'd always sneak a one into my mouth directly, can't wait to eat with Bacon, yum!

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I agree it will change, but it will not go away. I am great with staff serving what is requested from behind the buffet. 

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37 minutes ago, Pratique said:

I predict that the food will be pre-plated and you’ll just grab and go.

That would be a terrible way to do it. Buffets are great for sampling a bit of different things. I don't care to be stuck with what someone else decided to put on a plate. Having staff put on a plate what you request is a much better option.

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41 minutes ago, Pratique said:

I predict that the food will be pre-plated and you’ll just grab and go.

My Magic 8 Ball say's, "very doubtful". 🎱

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4 minutes ago, Ocean Boy said:

That would be a terrible way to do it. Buffets are great for sampling a bit of different things. I don't care to be stuck with what someone else decided to put on a plate. Having staff put on a plate what you request is a much better option.

I’ve seen it done. Every item on a separate plate. You pick and choose. Or take two if you want a larger portion. Rectangular plates to fit on a tray.

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