In a sign that crew shortages are easing a bit, Carnival Cruise Line is now able to bring back the popular loyalty parties for its Diamond and Platinum “Very Important Fun Person” (VIFP) guests. This is sure to be a welcome announcement for many passengers, as the parties are a highlight of the cruise for many past guests.
VIFP Parties to Return
In an announcement to his Facebook page on Friday, June 24, 2022, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald said, “On cruises starting today we will return to having the Diamond Lunch/Event and Diamond and Platinum VIFP Party.”
These events are highly anticipated by many loyal Carnival cruisers, and often include free drinks and appetizers, visits from the ship’s officers, and a popular video showcasing every Carnival cruise ship from the line’s founding in 1972 to the newest and upcoming vessels.
During the video, it is tradition for passengers to cheer for their favorite ships, or for every ship they’ve sailed on or may be booked to enjoy in the near future.
The VIFP events were temporarily canceled in mid-May due to short staffing on Carnival’s ships, and guests were offered different compensation as a substitute for the missed events. Diamond-level guests, the highest level of Carnival Cruise Line’s loyalty program, were offered $50 of onboard credit, while Platinum-level guests were offered two free drink vouchers.
The parties are only available on sailings of five nights or longer.
Staffing Shortages Easing
A backlog of visa applications to process was part of the cause of the cruise line’s staffing shortages, and Carnival Cruise Line has been working with representatives from the U.S. government to ease the backlog and return eager crew members to their vessels.
“Thanks to the hard work and diligence from many beards and the wonderful assistance from United States Customs and Border Protection, these challenges have diminished somewhat,” said Heald. “[The challenges] are not totally over, but by allowing crew members with expired visas to return to the ships the situation on our ships has for sure improved.”
Other changes were also made onboard Carnival ships due to staffing shortages, including temporarily closing two popular dining venues – the popular Cucina Del Capitano Italian restaurant and the elite dining experience, Chef’s Table.
At this time, Heald stated those venues will remain closed, but hopes they will be reopened soon.
There is no news yet on the return of other popular VIFP benefits and onboard experiences. For now, Diamond and Platinum priority boarding privileges remain suspended, and the Faster to the Fun program cannot yet be offered.
Similarly, the onboard Seuss at Sea Breakfast as well as the exclusive Behind the Fun tours are still on hiatus.
Many of these events, while popular among guests, can only service limited numbers of passengers. By temporarily removing them, individual ships are able to reassign crew members to other duties that will benefit more passengers and provide better service to greater numbers of guests.
Staffing Issues Throughout the Cruise Industry
Carnival Cruise Line is not the only cruise line impacted by staffing shortages. In the past few months, different cruise lines have needed to lower capacity on certain ships, cancel sailings, and adjust onboard activities and events to compensate for short-staffed crews.
Princess Cruises, for example, has been forced to cancel Alaska cruisetour options involving its popular Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge because of a lack of staff to operate the lodge. Similarly, Holland America Line has also canceled a variety of its popular Alaska cruisetours due to staffing shortages.
Both Princess Cruises and Holland America Line are part of the Carnival Corporation & plc family.