Norwegian Cruise Line makes anti-COVID changes to cruise ship buffet

Norwegian Cruise Line has made some changes to its onboard buffet in line with efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses when cruising resumes.

After some rumors last year that the cruise line was going to do away with the cruise ship buffet altogether, Norwegian Cruise Line has now revealed that the buffet will remain, but will only be available with service.

Garden Cafe buffet aboard Norwegian Jade

Garden Cafe buffet aboard Norwegian Jade

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That means that food will be on display as normal, but waitrons will man the stations and will select the food items that passengers want to add to their plates.

The anti-COVID measure is similar to those put in place by several hotels in the UAE, where the hugely popular Friday Brunch remains a staple of the city’s social scene.

Servers man the buffet stations and do all food handling on behalf of diners

It does create delays at the buffet, however, especially during busy periods, so Norwegian Cruise Line passengers should prepare themselves for a more tedious buffet experience.

That said, it is an example of how Norwegian Cruise Line is trying to offer the same cruise ship dining options that were available pre-COVID, but in a way that is safe for passengers and crew.

According to the VP of Food and Beverage Operations, Wes Cort, the buffet will also offer better food quality and variety, and the environment will still feel like a traditional cruise ship buffet.

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“It’s not going to be like you’re going into a medical ward with people wearing hazmat suits, but we’ll have service at the buffet, where we serve the guests,” Cort said in the first episode of Great Cruise Comeback, Norwegian Cruise Line’s EMBARK – The Series docuseries.

“(Passengers) will most likely be able to see the food, and the menus are going to be as good, if not better than ever,” he added. “But we’ll provide that extra bit of service.”

Cort confirmed in the episode that the buffet will still be all-you-can-eat, but he didn’t specify how many waitrons will be manning each buffet station – one of the main hold-ups with this style of buffet is a lack of dedicated staff.

In the episode, the cruise line said that redesigning and enhancing the onboard culinary experience while still adhering to new health and safety protocols has been a top priority.

The docuseries’ first episode also stated that Cort has been working to “reengage key partners to ensure the unmatched food and beverage experience across the entire fleet.”

The change to the buffet service will be “the biggest change” for his department, Cort said.

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