Carnival Cruise Line Brings Back Popular Dining Experience

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As crew staffing shortages continue to improve, Carnival Cruise Line has just announced the return of the popular Chef’s Table dining experience.

The exclusive culinary adventure will now be available fleetwide on cruises setting sail from June 30 and later, allowing guests to once again enjoy this unique and memorable gastronomical delight.

Chef’s Table Returning

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald announced on his Facebook page that as crew staffing improves, the Chef’s Table experience will be reinstated.

“I’m glad to tell you that as the crew situation gets better and we are able to slowly get more crew back to the ships that we can start to bring some events back for you,” Heald said. “For now, the only event outside of the Diamond and Platinum Party and the Diamond Event that we are returning in July is the brilliant Chef’s Table. This will return on cruises starting on 30 June onward.”

Chef's Table
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

The Diamond and Platinum Party and Diamond Event, both popular for the cruise line’s most loyal VIFP guests and available on sailings five nights and longer, were reinstated less than one week ago, on June 24, 2022.

Both the VIFP parties and the Chef’s Table experience were initially put on hold in mid-May due to ongoing staffing shortages that made holding such elite activities very challenging. Temporarily canceling the events allowed the cruise line to ensure staff was assigned to duties that would provide the best level of service for the greatest number of passengers.

Cruise Staffing Challenges Industry-Wide, but Improving

All cruise lines have struggled with staffing issues for several months, and have dealt with this in different ways.

On Carnival Cruise Line, not only were the VIFP events and Chef’s Table temporarily canceled, but several other events and privileges are still unavailable, including priority embarkation for Diamond and Platinum guests, the Suess at Sea breakfast, and the Behind the Fun ship tour.

The charming Italian Cucina Del Capitano restaurant is also still closed for dinner service on Carnival ships due to staffing, but several of its signature dishes are available in the main dining rooms. Cucina del Capitano is available aboard nine ships in the Carnival fleet: Breeze, Horizon, Panorama, Radiance, Sunrise, Sunshine, Vista, and Mardi Gras.

Carnival Valor Crew
Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line

The venue did not close aboard Mardi Gras, even with staffing challenges, and has remained open fleet-wide for its more limited, casual lunch service.

Other cruise lines have also dealt with staffing shortages in different ways. In April, P&O Cruises canceled seven sailings of Arcadia in order to reassign crew members to other vessels to improve staffing ratios and ensure excellent service.

Cunard Line reduced guest capacity on some sailings of its ships for several weeks to maintain the line’s signature superior service, without canceling sailings.

Norwegian Cruise Line has had to cap capacity on its Pride of America Hawaii cruises due to low staffing on the American-crewed vessel, and only recently announced reservation cancelations for August sailings as those crew shortages continue.

Overall, however, crew staffing is gradually growing across the industry and travelers are seeing improvements to onboard service, the return of popular activities, and fewer overworked crew members. With the return of Chef’s Table, signs are hopeful that staffing will continue to improve and cruise service, activities, and amenities will continue to return.

About Chef’s Table

The Chef’s Table is a specialty experience and ranges from $80-99 per person (plus gratuity) and serving several courses not available on Carnival’s regular menus. The price was just raised earlier this year, but guests who booked their reservations before the price increase will have no change in their Chef’s Table rate.

Because the experience is so limited, reservations do fill up quickly and guests interested in Chef’s Table should book early to secure their space, particularly as the experience has been on hiatus for several weeks.

Chef’s Table is available on all Carnival cruise ships, and will also be featured on the upcoming Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee.

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