Bye bye buffet

Looks like buffets may never be the same again in a post COVID world. In fact they might disappear completely and that could be a good and a bad thing.

Traditionally on a cruise the idea was that you would put on a pound a day and a lot of that is due to the buffet because really – we have a hard time monitoring what we eat. You know what it’s like. You wander around the buffet when you first arrive just to do a recce and see what’s on offer. Then you grab your table and go back and join the line of your fellow passengers with plates in hand all looking a bit like a bunch of Oliver Twists asking for “some more please sir”. Just when you have got what you came for you happen to look at the plate of your neighbour in line …. Hang on, you say to yourself. What’s he got? Hmmm – maybe I will have a bit of that.

And so it goes on – with a bit of this and a bit of that and before you know it your plate is overflowing – and not in the biblical sense. You make your way back to your canteen style table to get yourself organised. Why does it always feel like a canteen however posh the ship might be?

SIDE NOTE – the origin of the buffet – In the 19th century, supper, a lighter meal some hours after the main dinner, was sometimes served as a buffet (and so called), especially late at night at grand balls, where not everyone present would want to eat, or at the same time, or in the same quantity. Even when many servants were on hand, there might be an element of self-service. The term buffet originally referred to the French  sideboard furniture where the food was placed, but eventually became applied to the serving format. (Wiki)

The buffet has always been seen as one of the places where you can “catch something” and no wonder with all those serving spoons lying in dishes waiting for our dirty hands – because despite the cruise lines putting in hand washing stations at the entrance to the buffet how many times have you seen people just walk right past without washing their hands? And the poor attendant has no right to insist that they do so. Well you can say goodbye to that sort of buffet because if the ships in post-COVID have buffets it is going to be very different indeed.

On a cruise ship all your meals are included so you don’t need to go bonkers in the buffet as for sure you won’t starve to death or be charged any extra for having 3 meals a day. In other spots, however, it is a bit different. Take Vegas for example. One of the things it is renowned for is the “Eat All You Can Buffet”. For anyone on a cheap trip this is a brilliant way to cram three meals into one – breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one go.

There are of course some places where you never escape the buffet – even when all meals are included it is buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and buffet dinner. This is a popular option at some of the all inclusive resorts. We always worry about getting sick on holiday and I can recall getting advice such as avoiding the salads and only eat foods that are completely cooked. Now we have to worry more about getting COVID than getting Montezuma’s Revenge.


By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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