Carnival Cruise Line Clarifies Crew Language Policy

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In response to guest concerns about different languages spoken onboard, Carnival Cruise Line has addressed its crew language policy. While there have been no immediate changes to the policy, understanding the guidelines can help passengers better appreciate the diversity of crew members onboard and what challenges they may face in their daily work.

English in Passenger Areas – Is This True?

It is a policy with most cruise lines serving the North American market that English must be spoken in all passenger areas, including bars, lounges, dining venues, gangways, and even corridors and staterooms. This is true for Carnival Cruise Line and many other major cruise lines, and is meant to facilitate communication as well as guests’ comfort.

A guest recently aboard the new Carnival Jubilee, however, observed different languages spoken between crew members, and reached out to Carnival Cruise Line’s Brand Ambassador, John Heald, about the policy.

“I can’t count the number of times I heard crew speaking to each other in their native tongues. This included some supervisory personnel as well. Carnival needs to work on this,” a guest identified only as “P” explained. “The crew can make fun of you right in front of your face and we would not know.”

While the guest does not clarify what was said – presumably it was in a language they did not understand – Heald did respond to their concerns.

Carnival Crew-Only Area
Carnival Crew-Only Area (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin)

“This really should not, I hope, be a problem. The crew know they are expected to speak English in all guest areas but of course when busy or when asking help from another crew member it is sometimes automatic to ask in your own language,” Heald explained. “They are, I promise, not talking about you.”

Heald also points out that for most crew members aboard Carnival ships, English is not their first language. In fact, many crew members speak multiple languages, and while fluency does vary, all crew members do speak and understand basic English.

Speaking Other Languages Onboard

Onboard every Carnival ship are anywhere from 900 to 1,750 international crew members depending on the ship size and facilities, with crew complements often composed of team members from dozens of different countries. This means there may be many different languages spoken onboard in different areas.

While the policy may be for English to be spoken in all passenger areas, some crew members might have difficulty fully expressing themselves in English, especially if they are relatively new to cruise ship service. In certain instances, it may be more efficient for them to speak in their native languages.

Carnival Cruise Line Crew Members
Photo Copyright: Cruise HIve

This could be the case when asking a supervisor for clarification on duties or when explaining a difficult situation or incident that needs immediate attention. Instead of struggling to find the words in English, speaking in a native language could more quickly and smoothly resolve the situation.

It might also be necessary for crew members to communicate in their native languages in an emergency, when time can be critical to ensure a proper response to a dangerous situation, arrange immediate medical attention, or coordinate an effective emergency response.

The Diversity of Cruise Ship Crew Members

Carnival Cruise Line has been recognized multiple times over multiple years as an excellent employer, having received awards as a top global employer and one of the best places to work, a responsible company, an equitable employer for the LGBTQ community, a female-friendly company, and more.

These accolades are largely thanks to the cruise line’s incredible diversity, which brings together individuals from many countries and cultures to work together to provide excellent cruise vacations worldwide.

Carnival Cruise Line Shipping
Carnival Cruise Line Ship (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin)

“With 120 nationalities making up our 35,000+ team members shipboard and shoreside, Carnival Cruise Line is inherently diverse,” said Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line.

It is a testament to Carnival’s commitment to a positive guest experience that English is so widely and fluently spoken onboard its fleet.

While all Carnival crew members do their best to speak English in all guest areas, it is important for passengers to be mindful that not every conversation is necessary for their ears and to permit crew members to communicate in whatever way best suits their needs and situation.

In fact, one of the nicest things that travelers could do would be to ask crew members how to say “Hello” and “Thank You” in their native languages, and take that small step to show their appreciation in a way that will be very personal and meaningful to each crew member.

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