Cruisers launched into a heated debate this week after P&O announced it is banishing the buffet from its latest cruise ships.

Revealed at a conference aboard Carnival Spirit, the line said Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden would not have a traditional buffet. Instead they will be fitted with a large array of food outlets.

P&O said the decision comes after research that found today’s generation is interested in quality food and healthy eating.

The 2,000-sample survey of 30-55 year old potential cruisers told researchers concerns over the health effects of  buffets was among their top reasons for not cruising.

So instead of the buffet, the ships will have The Pantry – a contemporary and casual dining room offering individual spaces for different foods. Guests will receive a plate of a single dish of their choice rather than piling a number of different styles of food onto a tray.

There will also be new food venues, including The Dragon Lady, serving Asian fusion, an Italian restaurant Angelo’s, named after photographer Angelo Frontoni, and offering traditional comfort food Open Kitchen features a culinary school as well as dining, while a dedicated Chef’s Table dining area will be available.

Immediately after the announcement, Cruise Passenger’s website and Facebook pages were flooded with comments from cruisers.

Some praised the line for its bold initiatives and others expressed deep disappointment and suggested they would never cruise P&O again.

A fascinating divide between the age groups was apparent from the comments – with most older cruisers on the side of retaining the buffet.

Shelly saw the plus side, saying she loved the idea because she preferred to sit and order than watch people pile their plates high.

Helen and Julie agreed.  “There is so much waste of food with the buffets,” Julie said.

Healthier choices sounded promising to Debbie, but she didn’t think it should mean the end to the buffet.

“Just change the buffet menu – bad choice P&O,” she maintained.

A number of other Cruise Passenger readers said they were concerned the line would start charging for dining in the new contemporary restaurants.

“I would be interested to see what the supplementary charges are and I do have to wonder why this change when all I see is lines and lines of people in the buffet,” Mary said.

Meanwhile, Laura said the decision will impact a number of cruisers, especially those who only eat at the buffet.

“I like to eat sparingly from the buffet for breakfast and lunch because I can choose salad and just a little of whatever else I want,” she said.

“I fell in love with cruising in the old days – now ships are getting too much like ‘just resorts’ at sea.”

Over 55’s Margaret and Maree felt the decision was alienating their age group, despite feeling as though they made up the majority of P&O’s passengers.

“We like a buffet and these new ideas may turn away the over 55′s who must make up a vast percentage of passengers,” Margaret wrote.

“We were considering a cruise in 2015, but will by pass this line now.”

Definitely some food for thought. What do you think of the buffet banishment?