Carnival Cruise Line to Reopen Popular Specialty Restaurant

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In another sign that crew staffing shortages are lessened and the cruise experience is nearing pre-pandemic normalcy, Carnival Cruise Line is set to reopen its popular Cucina del Capitano specialty restaurant. The Italian eatery is a delicious dining option aboard nine different ships, and has been closed since mid-May.

Cucina del Capitano to Reopen

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald revealed that the cruise line’s popular Cucina del Capitano specialty restaurant would finally reopen on Saturday, August 6, 2022.

“As of August 6th you can eat dinner Italian family style again at Cucina Del Capitano,” Heald said. “That means you can have passionate conversations, wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, and then at the end of a wonderful meal still find room for a cannoli.”

The intimate Italian specialty restaurant had been closed in mid-May due to onboard staffing challenges. While the restaurants remained open for lunch with a limited menu, there were no dinner offerings other than select entrees made available free of charge in the main dining rooms.

Carnival Cruise Line's Cucina del Capitano
Carnival Cruise Line’s Cucina del Capitano (Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

The only Cucina del Capitano location to remain fully in service for the past 10 weeks has been aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s flagship, Mardi Gras.

At the same time Cucina del Capitano was initially closed, the cruise line also canceled the wildly popular Chef’s Table exclusive dining experience, as well as canceled onboard parties for its Diamond and Platinum “Very Important Fun Person” (VIFP) guests, special events scheduled on cruises of five nights and longer.

Each of these changes was part of the effort to reassign crew members to other dining areas to provide improved service to greater numbers of passengers just as the cruise line brought all its ships back into service and the busy summer season began.

In the intervening weeks, the cruise line has worked closely with the U.S. State Department to process crew members’ visas in an effort to relieve staffing shortages.

Carnival Cruise Line Chef's Table
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

At the end of June, staffing had improved enough that the VIFP parties returned as of June 25, while the Chef’s Table experience once again became available from June 30.

Other staffing improvements have also been made in recent weeks. The cruise line’s children’s programs, including Camp Ocean for the youngest travelers, have gradually reopened to welcome more guests, including the Night Owls evening program.

Dining at Cucina del Capitano

Cucina del Capitano is Carnival Cruise Line’s specialty Italian restaurant offering both lunch and dinner service in a relaxed and charming Old World atmosphere. The lunch menu is more limited, with a popular build-your-own pasta entrée as well as several appetizer and dessert options.

For dinner, the menu includes a variety of favorites inspired by the cruise line’s Italian captains and officers and their favorite homestyle meals.

Cucina del Capitano Wall
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

Delicious choices include minestrone soup, fried calamari, and a “Nonna’s Meatball” appetizer, with homemade pastas, veal in a pork ragu, eggplant parmesan, and beef short ribs as some of the most popular entrees. Desserts include a tangy lemon tart, apple pie, and gelato, along with Italian coffee.

Each course can be accompanied by a curated wine selection, and a variety of after dinner liqueurs are also available (bar prices apply).

Cucina del Capitano costs $18 per person, making it one of the least expensive specialty restaurants onboard Carnival ships. The price was $15 previously, but was increased May 1, 2022, when Carnival Cruise Line adjusted pricing for various specialty dining venues, as well as beverage packages, wifi packages, and gratuities.

The restaurant is currently available aboard nine ships in the fleet: Breeze, Horizon, Magic, Panorama, Radiance, Sunrise, Sunshine, Vista, and Mardi Gras.

The restaurant will also be available aboard Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee when those new ships debut in November 2022 and November 2023, respectively.

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