Cruise News Update: May 21, 2022

Another cruise news update across the industry as Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line both struggle with crew shortages.

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It’s another cruise news update for you as the situation on crew shortages has been an important topic for the past week, especially with Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruise News Update

In this week’s update, there have been lots of developments from Carnival Cruise Line as it deals with crew shortage issues which are resulting in the closing of some venues and events onboard. However, it’s not all bad for the Miami-based cruise line as two million guests have sailed since it restarted operations in July 2021.

We’ve also got news on limited capacity on one NCL vessel, easing on onboard youth programs, and Royal Caribbean itinerary adjustments.

Limited Capacity on NCL Cruise Ship

As all major cruise lines struggle to fully staff their vessels ahead of the busy summer cruise season, Norwegian Cruise Line is opting to limit guest capacity aboard Pride of America in order to maintain crew-to-guest ratios and keep service at its high expected level.

According to reports, the ship – which normally carries a crew of 920-940 – only has 550 crew on board at the moment. Because such low staffing would dramatically decrease the quality of service, the cruise line is limiting guests onboard so the available crew members can perform their duties as expected.

Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

Pride of America’s double occupancy maximum capacity is 2,186 passengers, meaning at the moment the ship is restricted to roughly 50-55% capacity.

To facilitate the capacity limits, Norwegian Cruise Line has stopped new bookings aboard Pride of America through October 2022.

Onboard Pride of America, several dining venues are being temporarily closed so staff can be reassigned to other venues for improved service. Three specialty venues will be closed and the main dining room will not be open for breakfast.

Pride of America is Norwegian Cruise Line’s only U.S.-flagged ship, and as such, is able to offer year-round, 7-night sailings around the Hawaiian islands.

Protocols Ease for Carnival Youth Programs

In an update to its protocols, Carnival Cruise Line is easing restrictions for participation in its youth programs fleet-wide.

The biggest change to Carnival’s youth programs as summer approaches is young cruisers are no longer required to be vaccinated in order to participate. This was revealed in an update to the cruise line’s Have Fun. Be Safe. protocols on May 18, 2022.

Carnival Cruise Ship WaterWorks
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

Previously, the protocols mandated that all participants in the youth activities, of any age, be fully vaccinated. It was stated that unvaccinated youth guests would not be permitted to participate. Now, there is no mention of vaccination requirements for young cruisers.

The youth programs may now be open for all cruisers ages 5-17, but participants must be registered pre-cruise in order to join in. Activity schedules are available via the Carnival Hub app once families board their cruise.

Normally Camp Ocean is available for cruisers as young as 2 years old, but at the moment ages 2-4 are not yet permitted due to ongoing health and safety measures.

Royal Caribbean Itinerary Changes

Royal Caribbean has been busy changing and adjusting itineraries for two of its ships.

Guests booked on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas July 4, 2022 voyage out of Miami have been informed that their sailing will not operate on the initially planned itinerary, but instead visits the same ports, just in the reverse order.

The ship’s new itinerary is visiting Nassau on Tuesday, July 5, followed by a day at sea, and then a visit to Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, CocoCay, on Thursday, July 7. This is a simple reversal of the original itinerary.

For Odyssey of the Seas, it gets more serious as the cruise line has changed the December 17, 2022 departure from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to one day earlier on December 16. Royal Caribbean said that the reason for the change was due to a berthing conflict at the US homeport.

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas
Photo Credit: Just dance / Shutterstock

Furthermore, the cruise will now be a 6-night sailing rather than a 7-night cruise. The original December 17-24 cruise was to have called to Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and CocoCay, The Bahamas, with two days at sea.

The revised 7-night itinerary will still call at the first three ports and feature two days at sea, but the visit to Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, CocoCay, has been removed.

If you are impacted by any of these sailings, do make sure to check any official communications from the cruise line.

Carnival Cruise Line Crew Shortage Issues

With staffing challenges posing major problems for cruise lines to maintain the level of service expected onboard, Carnival Cruise Line has announced the temporary, limited closure of two popular specialty dining venues and stopped some events.

The two impacted venues are the family-style Italian restaurant, Cucina Del Capitano, and the elite dining experience, Chef’s Table. Because of low staffing, it is necessary to close the two venues and reassign staff to continue providing excellent service in other dining venues. The closures are only temporary and affect sailings through June 30, 2022.

Carnival Cruise Ship Crew
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

Guests can still experience the tastes of Cucina del Capitano. While dinner reservations are no longer possible at the moment, the venue will remain open with its limited menu for lunch, and select entrees will also be offered in the Main Dining Room for dinner at no additional charge. The venue will remain open onboard the Mardi Gras.

Also, popular events for loyal past passengers are being canceled. Carnival announced that the Diamond events are canceled, and Diamond-level guests will instead receive $50 of onboard credit to use as they wish.

The Diamond/Platinum cocktail party is also canceled, and guests will receive two drink vouchers each. The Military Appreciation Tea has also been temporarily canceled fleet-wide.

Hours for some other dining venues have also been adjusted, such as the pizzeria being closed from 3-10 a.m. rather than being fully open 24 hours.

The reason cited for these closures is a delay in processing crew member visas, which is essential documentation before they can join their assigned ships for work contracts.

Two Million Guests Sail With Carnival

It’s been a long and difficult recovery for the cruise industry since operations were first suspended in March 2020.

Carnival Cruise Line was finally able to begin its gradual resumption of guest operations in July 2021 and, since then, has been pushing forward with more ships restarting operations.

The entire fleet has been sailing since early May 2022, and now Carnival has celebrated another major milestone.

Two million guests have now sailed with the cruise line since the restart, and this was reached with a family setting sail from Port Canaveral aboard the Carnival Freedom.

Two Million Guests on Carnival
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

The lucky family was welcomed by the Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director, and team members as they stepped on board the Conquest-class vessel.

The family will be enjoying a four-night voyage on the Carnival Freedom, including calls at Nassau and Princess Cays, both in the Bahamas.

In addition to the two million guest milestone, Carnival Cruise Line has also revealed some positive numbers. Guests have taken more than 1.3 million shore excursions, which is impressive despite tighter restrictions during the resumption.

The cruise line has also sold two million of its branded items in the gift ships fleetwide, including 150,000 exclusive items for its 50th Birthday.

More Cruise Headlines

It was just a busy week of cruise news in the industry and we’ve got even more coverage, including Carnival Cruise Line completely banning drones, itinerary changes for a Carnival cruise ship in the British Isles, new details released on the upcoming MSC World Europa, Carnival Vista suffering from propulsion issues, the busiest booking day in 10 years for Cunard Line, NCL youth programs to be fully back this summer, and plenty more all over on the website.

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