Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald provided several updates on the various issues the cruise line has been dealing with regarding staffing levels. He also provided the latest on testing, Camp Ocean, and the recent altercations between guests on Carnival cruise ships.
Staffing Levels Reaching Near Normal
Carnival Cruise Line and many other cruise lines have been dealing with crew shortages onboard their ships for months. Several US embassies have been dealing with a severe backlog of visa applications, causing crew members to be unable to join cruise ships.
That being said, Carnival Cruise Line has now said it hopes to be able to reach normal staffing levels by the end of the month or in early August.
The United States Customs and Border Protection have stepped up and allowed crew members to join ships even though their visas had already expired.
John Heald said the following: “We have to acknowledge the wonderful cooperation of United States Customs and Border Protection who are allowing many crew members from all over the world, from the Philippines, from Indonesia, from South Africa, from across Europe, from India, to come back to work with expired visas and then they’re actually renewing them while they are on the ship.”
Bringing the ships back to normal staff levels means Carnival Cruise Line can reopen venues such as Cucina Del Capitano, bring back tea time, and bring 24-hour pizza back, which is currently operating from 08:00 AM until 03:00 AM.
Camp Ocean Opening Up More And For More Age Groups
Bringing all crew back has also opened the door to more options for the little ones, including the two- to five-year-olds. Camp Ocean is now open to all kids in this age bracket, including vaccinated and unvaccinated kids. A change that many parents will welcome.
Carnival Cruise Line also opens up Camp Ocean in the evening, providing parents the chance to have a romantic dinner together and catch a show while the kids munch on nuggets and other goodies.
For now, the night-out program is only open for the 2-11-year-olds; once staffing levels are at full potential, Carnival will also be opening up Camp Ocean for the youngest children, which includes babysitting services, something many have missed.
Testing and Vaccinations Unlikely To Go Soon
While many European countries have permitted the cruise industry to sail without a testing mandate, this does not mean the same will be implemented in the United States. The CDC and the US government dictate the policies in place, and thus, Carnival must comply.
John Heald makes it clear that the choice is not with the cruise lines: “We as a cruise industry have our hands tied. If we are cruising from the United States of America from any home port and going to the Caribbean and to Alaska and to Canada, we are required to give everybody a test before boarding the ship. Otherwise, the ship remains alongside in that home port and the cruise line doesn’t go anywhere and thus probably ceases to exist.”
“You see, whether it’s the Cayman Islands, whether it’s Jamaica, whether it’s the Virgin Islands, or whether it’s Mexico, (or) Alaska. We are still required to give all the cruise passengers, whether they cruise with us or any other cruise line, a test.”
Many guests have also wondered whether the vaccination mandate will disappear soon. This as well seems to be a long time away.
“As far as those of you who chose not to have the COVID vaccination, well, I don’t know when you will be allowed to cruise again. We want it. We would like it very much. But at the moment, as you had a choice in not taking it, we have to keep steadfastly with these rules and crack on with them and follow them and do everything we can to keep going.”
While the end of staffing issues and the ships operating near normal again will be welcomed by many, those who cannot sail just yet will not receive the updates from Heald as a positive.
Altercations Are Incidents
In the past two weeks, there have been two incidents onboard Carnival Cruise ships, one onboard Carnival Magic sailing from New York City. Another aboard Carnival Elation late on Wednesday, July 6, as the ship returned to its homeport in Jacksonville at the end of a 5-night sailing to The Bahamas.
According to Heald, these are incidents and should be seen like this: “We’ve done hundreds of cruises on 20 plus different ships, and each and every one has been incident-free.”
“We have had just two things that have happened where people have held their iPhone up in the air and recorded it and sent it off. Lots of me. Unless we’re going to be clairvoyant, it’s never going to be possible on land or at sea for any security force to prevent anything like this from happening.”
As it is, Carnival has dealt with the situation effectively. Security teams broke up the altercations, and local authorities processed those involved. On top of that, these people will never be able to sail onboard a Carnival Cruise ship again.
“We will not tolerate behavior that disrupts any other guest’s vacation. And those who instigate the altercation, to put that more plainly, those people involved in these skirmishes will no longer ever be able to cruise on our ships ever again. They are banned for life.”
Since cruising resumed in 2021 from the United States, Carnival Cruise Line has welcomed more than two million guests onboard its ships. Since July 2021, nearly all cruises have operated incident-free.
Carnival Cruise Line is an incredibly popular cruise line, which unfortunately also attracts those not looking for fun. It would be a bizarre situation where the cruise line is blamed for the actions that others take while thousands of guests disembark Carnival’s ships each week after having the vacation of a lifetime.