Years ago a buffet was a real treat. All you could eat for one price. My metabolism was a lot better back then and chasing five kids kept the pounds off. Somewhere along the line however the appeal faded. Maybe the buffets became too much the same and poorly kept for freshness.
Then along came our venture into cruising and the buffet was rediscovered. The cruise ship buffets were much better and we indulged for a while--mostly for breakfast and lunch. The appeal wore off there as well. Perhaps it was the crowd and the lines and the trying to find a seat at peak dining times. Buffets have evolved from the take a tray and put your plates full of food on it to only carrying your plates without the tray and making several trips to manage it all.
The single line of food choices has evolved into stations of food often following themes like Asian, Carvery, Salad Bar, Italian, etc. To decide what you want, you move from station to station and see what the offerings are dodging of course all those others who have already plates full of choices. I dubbed it dodge 'em dining.
We have found that dining in the smaller venues or in the main dining room suits us much better for now. The only time we use the buffet is when we've returned to the ship too late for the dining room or first thing in the morning if we are in a hurry for breakfast.
There was one exception on our last cruise. One day we happened to see roast duck on the menu for the dinner buffet. We checked the main dining menu and found it wasn't available. That night we enjoyed our roast duck in a casual setting that wasn't nearly as crowded as the breakfast and lunch times. It was delicious and we managed a window seat with a view of a beautiful ocean.
Cruising, like all travel, is a matter of choices you make along the way. Don't want to dress for dinner? Try the buffet. In a hurry in the morning? Visit the buffet? But if you want to sit and enjoy the wait service and not have to dodge crowds, you might enjoy the dining room instead. Not as many choices perhaps but to my mind a much less hectic experience.
So the choice is yours. Do you buffet?
[Check out the Cruise Critics' choice of top buffets.]