Carnival Cruise Line has provided an update on the ongoing staffing shortages aboard its vessels, as well as what adjustments to services and activities will be necessary through July as crew shortages continue. While there is some improvement to staffing, Carnival guests will have to wait a bit longer for all their favorites to return.
Closures Continue Through July
In an update posted to his Facebook page on June 30, 2022, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald confirmed that the popular Italian restaurant Cucina del Capitano will remain closed for dinner through July, though complimentary lunch will still be served.
Guests booked on cruises in July who have already booked and paid for dinner reservations at Cucina del Capitano will have their reservations automatically canceled and fully refunded.
The specialty dining restaurant is currently found on nine ships in the Carnival fleet. For the time being only Mardi Gras will continue to operate Cucina del Capitano normally.
Similarly, the afternoon tea event continues to be on hold, and onboard pizzerias – which are normally open 24/7 – will still offer the more limited hours of 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. through July.
Heald’s confirmation echoes a new announcement on Carnival Cruise Line’s website, which discusses the ongoing staffing shortages and which areas of ship operations are most affected.
The statement reads, “Securing working visas for the crew is currently a challenge for the entire cruise industry. It’s unfortunately impacting our staffing levels, particularly for Carnival’s culinary and beverage teams. We’ve made some temporary adjustments to our onboard offerings for sailings through July 31st, mostly around hours of operation and special events.”
The statement notes that these adjustments are to ensure the best possible service onboard, and recommends that guests check the Carnival Hub app or the printed Fun Times daily newsletter during their cruise to check hours of operation and overall availability.
No updates are yet available on other popular onboard events and VIFP privileges, including the quirky character Seuss at Sea breakfast, Faster to the Fun cruise add-on, Behind the Fun tours, or priority boarding for Diamond and Platinum VIFP guests.
Heald has promised to provide further updates on those offerings as soon as possible.
Staffing Shortages Ongoing, but Improving
All cruise lines have been plagued with crew shortages and staffing issues in the past few months as more fleets return to full service and cruise ships resume sailing with full guest capacities.
Of the staffing issues, Heald said the situation is slowly improving.
“This in part is because of our relationship with United States Customs and Border Protection who are allowing some crew to return whose visas have expired. This is really helping,” Heald said. “But we need a wee bit more time before we open everything up again.”
As the situation slowly improves, Carnival has been able to return some popular amenities and onboard services recently.
On June 24, the cruise line resumed the loyalty parties and VIFP events for Diamond and Platinum guests, fun get-togethers offered on cruises of five nights and longer. These events often offer free cocktails or other beverages, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, exclusive games, meet-and-greets with ship’s officers, and other activities, depending on the ship and what can be arranged.
Heald also recently announced the return of the popular Chef’s Table VIP dining experience, a specialty dining meal featuring exclusive menus, curated wine choices, and insights into the cruise line’s culinary team and dining operations.
Is Carnival Stretching too Thin?
It may be concerning, however, that Carnival Corporation recently announced the goal of increasing capacity for Carnival Cruise Line even further, with the goal of 110% capacity in the next few months.
Capacities over 100% are common for cruise lines during the summer months, as full, 100% capacity is calculated at double occupancy. A higher than 100% capacity indicates more groups and families setting sail with 3, 4, or even 5 passengers per cabin where space permits.
Whether this increase capacity goal will affect staffing concerns is yet to be seen.
With Costa Luminosa scheduled to become Carnival Luminosa in November, the new Carnival Celebration also joining the fleet in November, and both Costa Venezia and Costa Firenze to become Carnival-crewed “COSTA by Carnival” ships in early 2023 and 2024, respectively, the cruise line will need significant numbers of new crew members to adequately staff all its vessels.
Adding all four of those ships’ crew complements together means the cruise line will need approximately 5,500 new crew members for full staffing. With Carnival Ecstasy retiring in October, her roughly 900 crew members could be reassigned to other vessels, but that is a long way from full staffing for the ships to come.