Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Royal Caribbean Group reports an end to fan-favorite activities and events to help make cruising safer during the COVID pandemic.
It got rid of the Balloon Drops at Royal Promenade, The Quest Adult Scavenger Hunt, laser tag, and parties of all kinds. Basically, if you can’t socially distance yourself while doing something, the cruise line had to get away with it.
Many of those changes seemed likely to be temporary. One change, however, looked like it was likely to be made, at least in the long run, if not permanent – crew members serve food at a windjammer buffet.
It turns out that Royal Caribbean can’t keep it around until the pandemic ends (or at least turns into an endemic).
Image Source: Daniel Kline / The Street.
Buffett has been a big part of the cruise line experience
During the pandemic, America decided that the buffet. The volunteers, at least, were pretty gross. At a time when everyone was wearing masks and trying to stay six feet away from others, the idea of using communal tongs in a shared hot tray of food was a bad idea.
On the ground, a lot of buffets were discontinued or pivoted to other service models. Walt Disney (district)—Get the Walt Disney Company Report Theme parks and hotels, for example, created many of their buffet family-style restaurants where large platters were brought in for tables.
Major Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Carnival (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation reports, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) – Get a report of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., chose not to do so because they have very extensive menus. Instead, they opted for cruise-line personnel to serve the passengers.
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This solved the problem but made for a fairly awkward buffet experience (though it may have embarrassed some people for taking less food).
And while staffing a buffet with servers seemed inefficient, the optics of people acting like people generally worked at the buffet, making the three companies unlikely to end that practice until the pandemic. Doesn’t really end, or maybe never.
Royal Caribbean, though. At least that’s starting to bring back the self-serve buffet, according to Jenna DeLaurentis of the Royal Caribbean blog.
Royal Caribbean Windjammer Brings Self-Service Back to the Buffet (Briefly)
Royal Caribbean was gradually moving towards a self-service model by easing regulations. For example, beverages were poured and handed over to cruisers during the strictest level of pandemic protocol. On recent cruises, a crew member still filled the glasses (so that customers didn’t have to touch the machine) but the filled cups were carried by passengers from a table.
It’s a small change, but one of many, as some cheeses and spices have gone back to a form of self-service. And now some travelers have reported that the windjammer has returned to pre-pandemic normal operation.
In a Facebook group for Pinnacle members at the Crown and Anchor Society, several cruisers posted about their return to the self-service buffet. Passengers noted the oasis of the ocean, the allure of the ocean, and the freedom of the sea that their sailings enjoyed. Back to volunteering, crew members are no longer serving guests at the buffet,” DeLaurentis reported.
However, this change proved to be short-lived. Royal Caribbean clarified to the Royal Caribbean blog, which is not affiliated with the cruise line, that while the change did take place, it was not permanent.
According to the cruise line, “Royal Caribbean crew members continue to serve guests in windjammers throughout the fleet. Today some ships were self-service, tomorrow the crew will serve guests in windjammers again.”
The cruise line didn’t say when it might return to the issue or why it went on a day-to-day self-service model.