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YSA Design and ALMACO agree ship restaurants need radical concept overhaul

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Future cruise ship restaurants may include open kitchens or cooking shows
Experts in design and outfitting think traditional buffets may cease to exist and restaurant spaces will need to be transformed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 on board cruise ships.

‘À la carte may completely replace self-service, with buffet counters removed to leave extra room for socially distanced dining’, says Chief Executive, YSA Design, Anne Mari Gullikstad.

Senior Architect at YSA, Georg Piantino, echoes the view, adding, ‘Shipowners will want the ability to increase or decrease the capacity of interior spaces and implement or remove certain facilities’.

According to YSA, the choice of surface materials will require careful attention as exposure to antibacterial cleaning agents will become more frequent.

Cutting back on cost

Erik Schobesberger, vice president, sales modernisation at ALMACO, expresses the view that existing lack of clarity on future regulations means cruise lines will be apprehensive about making major step changes to F&B design this year, although easy and cost-effective temporary solutions may be put in place if cruising is to resume this August.

‘Cruise lines will…redesign their old buffet restaurants and catering areas to be able to serve many customers efficiently, while maintaining the highest possible standard, without making large investments’, says Schobesberger. ‘It will not just be about serving food in a safe way; it will also be about conveying a sensation of safety to the customers’.

He adds, ‘The new concept must be “wow”, while meeting the new standards and regulations’.

Open kitchens

On the subject of longer-term solutions, Schobesberger comments, ‘Once the cruise ships have been sailing for a while and revenue starts rolling in, it’s time…to start revitalizing and marketing the new restaurant concept to regain customer confidence and satisfaction.

‘Some will choose to keep the buffet concept but implement design improvements and equipment innovations that makes it safe. Others will transform their restaurants into an à la carte with open kitchens or cooking shows’.