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IF Royal does away with the WJ buffet as we know it, do you think it would impact any of the dining packages?  Let's say they did change the Windjammer to a food court set-up. Would Royal sell a food court dining package, for example? I hope not, as it is a great way to spread out the crowds.

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No, if they do food court I would imagine it would not affect the price. In fact they may save on food by eliminating waste. Usually they put two stations a piece for popular items, one on each end, then salad, fruit, deserts and other stations are spread out. A cafeteria style/food court set up would eliminate that and free up more space. It would be like a buffet that they serve you at.

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Anything that might challenge dining packages would require an investment and major construction to implement.  I don't see that happening, there is no budget for it.   Changes will need to be cheap and easy to implement with very minor capital cost if any.  

I have a great deal of respect for Michael Bayley but he has said things before that never came to fruition.  He could have been simply talking in very broad terms that people are over analysing and drawing conclusions from.   He could have been using the stage to appease the masses that they are considering all possibilities while stopping short of committing to anything to reassure the public that ships will be safe.

Something will change, at least in the near term immediately after restarting but they are not going to do a major overhaul of the space in the interim.  Implementing food courts on all ships with the variety of WJ designs, shapes and sizes is a multi-million dollar project. Whatever they do will be done with minimal demolition or construction.  

I can see them eliminating self serve and having more options from a menu like cafeTwo70 on Q class, Park cafe on O class and cafe Promenade on other ships.  A pasta section with a handful of choices, a burger section where you tell them what you want on it, a sandwich section with a handful of choices like Majesty, a salad area where they make the salad for you just like O and Q class has but now in the WJ as well as where they exist today.  

These types of changes can be easily implemented without major construction or cost.  Just like cafeTwo70 or Park cafe these won't impact dining packages.

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I think the changes for sanitation and to avoid cross contamination will follow the service styles in Cafe Promenade, Sorentos and Park Cafe, and possibly to manage the capacity of the Windjammer at peak times. They may also keep the entire seating area available during slow times when only a portion of the serving area is open.

Other than potential crowding issues with more stanchions and crew in front of the serving stations to keep people from self serving, I don't think the changes in the Windjammer are insurmountable in the short term. Large modifications are not possible with all the ships at anchor or repatriating crew right now.

In ships without a Royal Promenade, I would like to see more food court options other than Cafe Latitudes dotted around the Centrums. Lots of back of the house changes would need to be made for that I would think.

I think it is certain there will be design changes in new builds and dry docks to make it easier to manage the new service style they will implement.

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

I have a great deal of respect for Michael Bayley but he has said things before that never came to fruition.  He could have been simply talking in very broad terms that people are over analysing and drawing conclusions from. 

Agreed. Based on hearing what he said and how he said it, little to nothing he spoke of was in absolute terms. He was sharing ideas, but it all sounded like everything was still in the discussion-level still, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear something has already changed from what he mentioned.

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Years ago (after a Noro outbreak) we sailed on RCCL (can't remember which ship). The WJ buffet was there; however, you weren't allowed to serve yourself.  They are servers to put the serving on your plate as you held it.  This was also the first time that they started the hand sanitizer before entrance to the WJ (at least for us it was the first time).  I think that they will possibly do this once cruising starts back.  Some people complained (and some of the complainers were the ones who refused to use the hand sanitizer); however, I welcomed it so I didn't have to touch a serving handle that everyone else had touched.   I think some people just refuse to let someone else tell them what they can and can't do.

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I was just speaking with my TA and this is what he just emailed me regarding the Windjammer and such. Just wanted to share what my Travel Agent told me:

I also was on a webinar with the Chairman of RCCL Richard Fein and he took some questions about the future.  BTW Royal Caribbean just announced a postponement through 31 July.
On the future relative to our discussions he didn't get too specific but the Windjammer will remain, but not with everyone using the same spoon to get their stuff, so as we suspected more of a crew operated buffet. He indicated that probably isn't just at sea but at hotels and restaurants on land as well.   He also indicated that as they begin operations it will not be a simultaneous full speed ahead but a gradual roll out, and that they would adjust crew and number of cabins occupied till they get back to full operations.  No specifics but a slow and steady process coordinated with all the necessary bodies, agencies, countries etc.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Baked Alaska said:

IF Royal does away with the WJ buffet as we know it, do you think it would impact any of the dining packages?  Let's say they did change the Windjammer to a food court set-up. Would Royal sell a food court dining package, for example? I hope not, as it is a great way to spread out the crowds.

Everyone has said my thoughts about the Windjammer ... but some restaurants "pack" you in rather tightly, like certain areas of Chops ... I wonder if reducing occupancy will drive the price up.

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I agree that having more staff serve food from various food stations and preventing self-serve is the most likely direction they will go because this is cheap and easy to implement - however, there is still a problem with people crowding around each serving station or not being able to seat everyone in the WJ if the tables need to be spaced apart. (Granted, I know we can argue about whether social distancing is really possible on a cruise ship, but setting that aside...). Two options I have not heard discussed much are:

1) making room service free to everyone to encourage eating in one's own room / distancing

2) Mobile order. Disney uses this system to let people place an order and they get a message when it is ready to pick up, so people don't have to line up to pay, select food, etc. Royal already has an app for many ships and adding a mobile order option for the buffet would allow people to still have a wide variety of food choices and still be spontaneous about when they want to eat. Then the food could be plated for you and you would receive a message when the food is ready for pick up. This would require minimal investment in terms of programming/software update on the already existing app and work best for eliminating crowds. Thoughts?

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1 minute ago, USCG Teacher said:

While I would believe that Royal would try to avoid taking any actions that would reduce revenue streams if possible, I think this is a really good idea!

I thought of that myself - but certainly they could increase the number of upsell options with room service like alcoholic drinks, specialty foods, brand name prepacked goodies, etc. Sort of like, after making your order, "do you want to add fries to that?" but "Do you want to add a kraken pina colava to that for only $xx more?"

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1 hour ago, whitsmom said:

Years ago (after a Noro outbreak) we sailed on RCCL (can't remember which ship). The WJ buffet was there; however, you weren't allowed to serve yourself.  They are servers to put the serving on your plate as you held it.  This was also the first time that they started the hand sanitizer before entrance to the WJ (at least for us it was the first time).  I think that they will possibly do this once cruising starts back.  Some people complained (and some of the complainers were the ones who refused to use the hand sanitizer); however, I welcomed it so I didn't have to touch a serving handle that everyone else had touched.   I think some people just refuse to let someone else tell them what they can and can't do.

I think it is hard for people to be told what to do. I honestly hate most sanitizers as their smell irritates my allergies, however I will endure it if it means getting back to cruising without much hassle. Making WJ a new "pay restaurant" would be a big mistake. It would cause even more people to eat in the MDR and the crowds would be atrocious! There are many cruisers, some loyal to RCCL many not, who won't cruise with RCCL if there isn't more than one free food place where they can get more than just snacks. They would choose other lines. I think that any changes would be temporary and that only loyal RCCL cruisers will be ok with dealing with them. Just my thoughts. 

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WJ is a very big issue.. we never use it for dinner because there are many options.. the problem is breakfast and lunch.. i can see them going to full dining room service( all 3 levels) for breakfast and lunch to solve part of this problem(since most of dinner servers work the WJ for breakfast and lunch)  remember that many ships have anywhere from 3000 to 5000 passengers and serving everyone without a buffet is a logistical nightmare. there also wont be a solarium buffet on oasis class ships.. probably a very limited menu food court concept would work best to those that dont want a sit down meal...just like the mexican rest. on vamped oasis, they will probably have pre made burgers, sandwiches, and salads.. whatever RCCL does, they are certainly in a pickle...

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I can see the WJ changing to a cafeteria style eatery, grab a tray and silverware and have servers place the food on you plate as it moves down the line.  I wouldn't mind a food court station, breakfast and lunch serving fast food type options. A combination of the two would be great.  Also to maximize use of the MDR for lunch and dinner have one of the dining rooms with a limited menu that could be served quickly for those who would want a full meal, this would ease the crowding of the WJ.

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The travel agent that was quoted made the most sense and what I have felt they would do. I think clearly the buffet concept will remain but with crew serving folks and probably better plexiglass protection for the food where it is visible but not subject to someones sneeze, etc. These changes may sound simple but it is going to require a lot more headcount than is currently required to run Windjammer. Holland America is in good shape in this regard as their buffet is already designed for crew members to serve passengers for most things.

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The buffet appears to be just the beginning of the changes. I’m not really sure I want to take part in a vacation with so many restrictions. Am I going to have to make a reservation to play the slot machines in the casino or sit by the pool? I’m going to wait and see how this plays out but it certainly doesn’t seem enjoyable or relaxing. Will I need to sip my beer through a straw inserted into a hole cut in my mask? 

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