Sunday, July 19, 2020

Reopening the Various Dining Options Reasonably

When Disney resumes cruises, which is now going to be at the end of September, there will certainly be many health and safety changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  I already made a post taking a look at how Disney World's reopening safety precautions could be applied to DCL, so if you haven't read it, I recommend reading it here first.

A major aspect of a Disney cruise is dining, so let's think about how it may be impacted by safety and health measures.  Like at Disney World, guests will likely be required to wear masks at all times on the ships, except when swimming or dining.  Guests won't have to wear masks while eating, but I guess they could if they really wanted to.  Not sure how much they'd be able to eat, though.  On my first reopening post, I thought of a loophole, but now I realize that it probably wouldn't work.  The crew would probably want guests to wear masks as much as possible, and they could do this by restricting the areas where guests can eat, so I sadly wouldn't be able to go all around the ship carrying my plate of French fries.

First, let's consider the poolside restaurants like Eye Scream and Pinocchio's Pizzeria.  As of January 2020, Eye Scream was a self-service ice cream station, but when cruises resume, crew members are certainly going to be the only people operating the machines.  This'll be more sanitary than letting people serve themselves, and it may even make lines move faster!  Although I did enjoy trying to fit as much ice cream on a single cone as possible.  This usually ended in my hand getting covered in delicious but cold ice cream.

As for the regular quick-service poolside restaurants, there will likely be transparent plastic barriers between the server and the guests.  Also, there may be markings on the floor spread apart for people to stand on.  Lines at these restaurants can get pretty long around lunchtime, so they're going to need a lot of markings.  Also, the condiments probably won't be out for guests to get by themselves.  Instead, they'll likely be behind the plastic barrier available upon request, like the napkins.  This wouldn't be a problem for me, unless I were to forget to ask.  Additionally, guests probably won't be able to leave the area close to the quick-service restaurants while eating with no mask.  This might get annoying, especially if I wanted to eat my food up on the sports deck or down in the atrium.

Also, we can't forget about Vanellope's Sweets and Treats on the Dream and Sweet on You on the Fantasy. These two locations are specialty dessert shops, meaning the food available at them is sold for an extra cost.  They're different from the typical poolside restaurants, but they are near the pools, so I'll count them.  Similar to the other restaurants, they'll likely have a plastic barrier installed between the crew members and the guests as well as markings on the floor to enforce social distancing.  Guests might only be able to eat their purchases at Cabanas, which is connected to these shops.

Speaking of Cabanas, let's discuss the buffet.  Normally, guests are allowed to put food on their own plates, but there is absolutely no way Cabanas will function like this when cruises resume.  Crew members will have to serve guests, which will probably slow the buffet line down.  This added time might be challenging for people with early morning excursions or that are using the Express Walk-Off program that need to leave the ship as fast as possible.  Also, markings will certainly be placed on the ground indicating where people should stand.  Cabanas is usually very straightforward and streamlined, but these safety measures, while understandable, would be pretty annoying and cumbersome.  After guests would receive their food, they would have to find somewhere to sit.  There will likely be less tables, and the ones that remain will be more spread out than how they were, which would make finding somewhere to sit even harder than it already was.  This could result in Disney limiting the amount of people in the restaurant at a time, since there wouldn't be enough tables for everyone.  This may be challenging, since Cabanas has quite a few entrances.  Cabanas won't be nearly as efficient as it was before the suspension, so hopefully Disney will work their magic to figure out a way to make Cabanas work.

Next, we have the standard rotational dining restaurants and Palo and Remy.  Normally, there are two dinner times at the rotational restaurants, an earlier seating and a later seating.  In an effort to decrease the amount of people at each seating, Disney could create a third dinner time.  This could be a earlier early seating or a later late seating.  In addition to this or instead of this, guests will probably be seated at tables spread farther apart from others than usual.  While guests won't need to wear masks, the servers will probably be required to.  The servers could wear masks that match their uniforms as a really cool touch!  They might also wear plastic gloves for extra safety.

At Palo and Remy, these changes would also be applicable.  According to my parents, Palo has been somewhat crowded before, so to decrease the amount of people in the restaurants, they could have more dinner time options, similar to the possible third rotational dinner time.  Like the rotational restaurants, they could also spread out the tables.  The changes in these restaurants wouldn't be too different than usual, for the guests at least.  I'd be totally fine with this, and I'm sure some people would enjoy an even later dinner seating to change things up.

Finally, we have room service.  This may be the best dining option, since there's no worry about catching any virus because guests are alone with their families in their staterooms.  Because of this, there's not much to change about room service.  The server may have to wear gloves and a mask, and the guests may have to wear a mask when receiving the food.  But other than that, there's nothing Disney could change about room service!  I'd be completely fine with this change, as it's very minor.  I probably wouldn't even notice it!

Disney hasn't announced any health and safety changes for their cruise ships yet, so this whole post is just speculation.  What safety precautions for the dining areas would you suggest?  Leave a comment if you'd like.

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