Norwegian Cruise Ship Capacity Limited to Combat Crew Shortages

Guest capacity will now be limited on Pride of America and more restaurants are closed due to staffing shortages.

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Norwegian Cruise Line has begun to temporarily limit guest capacity aboard Pride of America due to crew shortages. This move is one of several strategies the cruise line is using to keep its service levels up to expectations even while struggling to fill crew rosters.

Pride of America Capacity Limited

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 a report from Travel Pulse, the ship – which normally carries a crew of 920-940 international employees – only has 550 employees on board at the moment.

Because such low staffing would dramatically decrease quality of service, the cruise line is limiting guests onboard so the available crew members can perform their duties as expected.

Pride of America Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: A. Michael Brown

“We’ve limited occupancy between 1,100 and 1,200 guests,” Harry Sommer, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said. “We’re not going to ever compromise the guest experience.”

The ship’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. It is possible, however, that new summer and fall bookings will once again be made available as the staffing situation improves.

At this time, no capacity limits have been announced affecting other Norwegian Cruise Line ships, as their staffing is not so dramatically impacted as aboard Pride of America, which is required to have a crew of only U.S. citizens or permanent residents because of its U.S. registry.

Other Strategies to Combat Crew Shortages

In addition to capping capacity, Norwegian Cruise Line is taking other steps to alleviate crew shortages. Incentives to new crew members include raising pay scales as well as sending recruitment representatives to job fairs.

Onboard Pride of America, several dining venues are being temporarily closed so staff can be reassigned to other venues for improved service. In a letter recently sent to booked guests and the cruise line’s travel partners, the following changes were noted:

“Our staffing levels have been adjusted to accommodate the number of guests on board, therefore limiting some of the available dining options. During your voyage, Moderno Churrascaria, Teppanyaki, and La Cucina will not be available, and the Main Dining Room will not be open for breakfast or lunch.”

Pride of America Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock

Limited dining options on the ship were announced before its return to service in early April, but the updated closures now include La Cucina.

Other dining options still remain open, including the popular specialty restaurants Cagney’s Steakhouse and the French-inspired Jefferson’s Bistro.

The letter also notifies guests that pre-booked dining reservations are no longer available.

“We regret to inform you that we are unable to accommodate any pre-booked dining reservations for your upcoming cruise,” the email read. “Any reservations that have been made for any of the dining options will be canceled.”

Guests will be able to book new reservations at the available restaurants once they board the ship. Guests whose reservations are being canceled are being given a $50 non-refundable onboard credit per cabin as compensation for the inconvenience.

The 80,439-gross ton 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, with no need to stop at a non U.S. port of call during the itinerary.

The ship re-entered service after the pandemic shutdown on April 9, 2022, the fifteenth ship in Norwegian’s fleet to welcome passengers once again.

Pride of America visits five ports of call on four Hawaiian islands during each cruise – Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, and Oahu – providing guests a true island-hopping aloha experience.

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