Royal Caribbean defiant that Windjammer buffet will survive COVID-19

The prevailing wisdom in the cruise industry may be that the buffet’s goose is cooked, so to speak, due to social distancing and hygiene requirements resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, but Royal Caribbean’s  Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage, Linken D’Souza, appears to think differently and says it will be business – not quite – as usual at the Windjammer buffet. 

“Windjammer is one of my favorite spots, and we will continue to have a buffet at Royal Caribbean We have worked through a variety of different scenarios, from employee service to individual portions to individual tongs for self-service, to finger koozies that you can pick up hot dishes with that can be washed and sanitized,” D’Souza said in a webinar with travel agents Wednesday, adding that Royal Caribbean was continuing to “work through a lot of the details.”

“Rest assured, the buffet will exist,” D’Souza continued. “There may be some small modifications that allow us to ensure that we have a really great, healthy return to service. But your favorites and what you’re used to at the Windjammer will still be there.”

“…We will absolutely have a Windjammer with all of your favorites in a very similar fashion to what you’ve had previously and maybe some different service steps to ensure healthy service.”

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Windjammer buffet will survive COVID-19
Windjammer buffet will survive COVID-19

There have been differing comments over the past couple of months from Royal Caribbean executives on the future of the Windjammer buffet on board its cruise lines. Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said in May: “I think …there will not be a buffet in the beginning, that’s how I see it. It depends again upon the timing. 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.”

But a week later Richard Fain Chairman and CEO of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises said: “It doesn’t mean that you don’t have a buffet.” 

Norwegian has already said last month announcing its health protocols that when cruising resumes, buffets and beverage stations will be full service.

Europe Issues Guidance On Resumption Of Cruising

Meanwhile, the European Union in guidance issued earlier this week for the restarting of cruise operations said that self-service buffet food operations should be avoided and recommended that crew and passengers be divided into designated groups with food served at different times to limit interaction.

The question remains what guidance the CDC issues when it eventually lifts its no-sail order – currently running until July 24 – and whether it will allow a self-service buffet in any form.

Meanwhile, until that question is answered, royalcaribbeanblog.com has published the recipe for “fall off the bone” BBQ Ribs from Portside BBQ on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.

Enjoy… and serve yourself while you can! 

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