Many cruise lines are currently dealing with crew shortages, which can dramatically impact a passenger’s vacation experience. Carnival Cruise Line has made adjustments to help alleviate this problem and improve staffing, but what does it mean for upcoming sailings and what guests can expect?
Cruise Line Staffing Challenges
Many guests have noticed staffing shortages on recent cruises. These shortages are a result of several factors, including heightened travel protocols such as visa restrictions that are preventing crew members from traveling through multiple countries to join their contracted ships.
Other factors impacting cruise ship crews include isolation and quarantine requirements related to ongoing COVID-19 testing and fewer crew members being recruited into the industry after the dramatic loss of jobs from the pandemic lockdown.
Carnival Cruise Line, however, is working to alleviate these problems and encourage more crew members to join its ships.
In a recent post on his Facebook page, popular brand ambassador John Heald said, “we have some crew shortages on board which has meant we have needed to make changes to some of the events on board and I know that this is another challenge.”
To accommodate crew shortages, some onboard events such as dance parties, interactive games, and crew-led activities may be temporarily removed from daily schedules, and guests may notice other slight changes.
For example, it may take longer for cabin stewards to service staterooms, if there are staffing shortages in an individual ship’s housekeeping department and stewards need to be assigned additional staterooms.
Similarly, lines may be longer at shore excursion or guest services desks if fewer staff members are available, or dining service may take slightly longer than normal.
Even production shows and musical performances may be altered or canceled if performers need to be isolated or are unable to board ships on the expected dates.
Heald has indicated that the upper management of Carnival Cruise Line is aware of the problem and looking into solutions, however: “I believe that Christine [Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line] and the beards will find a way out of this and will work with the United States State Department and we will get the visas our crew are waiting for [to] return, ready to serve and entertain you,” he said.
In addition to altering onboard activities, some cruise lines are taking other steps to compensate for crew shortages.
In early April, P&O Cruises canceled seven sailings of Arcadia just after the ship resumed service, in order to reassign crew members to other understaffed vessels.
Cunard Line, on the other hand, has opted to reduce capacity on some sailings of its ships for the next few weeks so they can maintain the appropriate level of service the line is known for, without canceling sailings.
How Guests Can Help
The very best thing any cruise guest can do to help with staffing shortages is to be patient and understanding with these temporary conditions. Working on a cruise ship is a stressful job even during the best of times, and even more so when staffing shortages result in increased duties.
There are many ways guests can help their stateroom stewards, such as reusing towels to reduce laundry and being sure their room is picked up before service to shorten the time it takes to clean a cabin.
Helping dining staff is as easy as using the Carnival Hub app to make dining reservations, arriving for assigned dining on time, or previewing the menu in advance so you’re ready to order without extra explanations.
The Carnival Hub app is also useful to track daily schedules and know when activities may be canceled, or staying updated on all there is to do onboard that doesn’t require extra staffing.
Enjoying the pools, playing miniature golf, checking out games in the library, visiting the sports court, or trying out easy deck games like oversized chess, corn hole, or shuffleboard are great options to explore.
As travel restrictions continue to lift, staffing shortages are likely to be resolved. In the meantime, guests should remain flexible in their travel expectations for cruises, and ready to enjoy an oceangoing getaway even with some challenging alterations.