Q – We are Oceania fanatics – in part attracted by the food and your rankings of their alternative restaurants. But now we are reading that all buffets will likely be canceled on future sailings. Tell me this isn’t true and why in the world would they do that – it all comes out of the same kitchen?

A – It has to do with the list of 74 Protocols presented by NCL and Royal Caribbean to the CDC (Carnival was not a signatory) Food handling experts are adamant about the need to restrict the number of times and the ways in which a guest’s plate is touched by staff. As long as Covid is a concern, and that could well take us into 2024 or 2025, buffet service will be a fond memory of times past. All dining options now will be fully “plated”. To the cruise lines that means that no one comes in contact with your food once it is cooked other than a gloved server.

This is just one example of the lack of information we are able to gather about research in this and other areas of travel. It is rare, it turns out, very rare, for transmission of the virus on an aircraft where safety precautions have been taken. This has to do with the standard of freshly recycled air. In terms of cruising, no one really knows how dangerous it would be to have an all-buffet cruise. But the idea of one’s fellow-passengers reaching in to serve themselves with a pair of tongs you will be using in short order is not at all comforting.