Royal Caribbean confirms return of self-service buffet on cruise ships

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It’s official, you will be able to help yourself to the buffet again on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean has confirmed to RoyalCaribbeanBlog that from cruises that begin on or after April 2, 2022, guests can help themselves instead of crew members doing it at buffets.

The statement adds that while guests can serve themselves, the cruise line will still offer single-serving foods that don’t require passengers to handle serving utensils.

“On cruises departing on or after April 2, 2022, Royal Caribbean International will bring self-service dining back to guest favorites onboard, including Windjammer Marketplace, Solarium Bistro and private destinations.”

“Take-out and single-serve meals will continue to be a standing offer – they have become popular options, and storing them is a top request from our customers.”


Photos of Matt Rearick on Symphony of the Seas

It appeared Royal Caribbean had made the change nearly two weeks earlier when some cruise ships began to see the resumption of self-service in the Windjammer, but Royal Caribbean said it was a one-time test. .

They have now decided to opt for the self-service buffet.

Having crew members serving passengers instead of guests was one of the first changes cruise lines made during the Covid-19 pandemic to limit the spread from person to person.

The crew members handled the serving tongs or serving spoons and placed the food on the guest’s plate.

The change in buffet service is one of many changes Royal Caribbean has made after the cruise line joined the CDC’s voluntary Covid-19 monitoring program and opted to join the “highly vaccinated” program.

The drinks stations were already transformed into self-service earlier this year, where passengers could get coffee, water and juice.

While Royal Caribbean moved to self-service earlier, other cruise lines had done so before that.

Carnival Cruise Line had self-service buffets in July 2021.

Disney Cruise Line said that starting April 1, their ships will resume self-service buffets.

CDC Foodservice Requirements

Checking the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Operations Manual for cruise ships sailing in the US, the rules on how food can be served have changed to depend on the company cruising.

According to the CDC, “catering stations may be operated on a self-service basis at the cruise line’s discretion.”

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Cruise lines should encourage distancing through physical guides to direct passenger flow, provide signage for social distancing, and provide an appropriate number of staff to monitor distancing.

Additionally, cruise lines should provide hand sanitizer at food station entrances, ensure an adequate supply of high-contact materials (serving spoons, tongs, etc.) to minimize sharing of the utensil by many passengers, limit buffet seating capacity, and install physical barriers where it is difficult for customers to maintain appropriate physical distancing.

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