Taking a cruise means eating a lot of food (or at least it does for most people). Just the dining options included in your cruise fare -- the main dining room, the buffet, and numerous free casual eateries -- can be overwhelming. That's, of course, before you factor in any for-fee dining.
Carnival (CCL) offers a variety of dining options on each of its ships, but staffing issues due to having trouble securing visas for its crew have led to some disruptions. The cruise line has suspended its loyalty parties for Diamond and Platinum-level members and it stopped offering its Chef's Table dining experience. The company has also closed its Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant for dinner, making it a free lunch-only venue (except on Carnival Mardi Gras where it operates normally).
"Similarly, the afternoon tea event continues to be on hold, and onboard pizzerias – which are normally open 24/7 – will still offer the more limited hours of 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. through July," Cruisehive reported.
It's a challenging situation that impacts passengers, but it's one that has been improving with one of the cancelled options coming back and another very popular venue onboard adding a fun new menu item.
Carnival Brings Back a Cancelled Event
Carnival has brought back the Chef's Table as well as some key loyalty events, according to a Facebook post from the company's loyalty ambassador John Heald.
“I’m glad to tell you that as the crew situation gets better and we are able to slowly get more crew back to the ships that we can start to bring some events back for you,” Heald said. “For now, the only event outside of the Diamond and Platinum Party and the Diamond Event that we are returning in July is the brilliant Chef’s Table. This will return on cruises starting on 30 June onward.”
The Chef's Table is an added-fee multi-course chef-designed meal mean to reflect the best of what's served across the entire line. Seating is limited (generally to 14 guests but it may vary by ship) and the cost is generally just-under $100 plus an 18% gratuity.
Carnival Adds More Guy Fieri
One of Carnival's signature partnerships has been with celebrity chef Guy Fieri. His signature onboard restaurant, Guy's Burger Joint, is literally on every ship in the Carnival fleet and the "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" has added a new limited-time-only burger at the well-loved location.
"Available only at Guy’s Burger Joints across the Carnival fleet for a limited time, the Funderstruck Nacho Burger is comprised of a toasted brioche bun, the chef’s famed 80/20 burger patty, donkey sauce and super melty cheese, and stacked with nacho seasoning, borracho beans, crispy corn tortilla strips, fried jalapenos and fresh pico de gallo," Carnival shared in a press release.
The famous chef, who also hosts Guy's Grocery Games," has also added a new side dish to the menu at his other onboard restaurant (which is only on three ships in the fleet).
"Fieri also introduced Fully Loaded Fundertots, which are now available for a limited time at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse Brewhouse aboard Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama and Mardi Gras," the company shared.
Adding a new burger fleet-wide does not make up for the closures and cancellations, but it's a gesture from the cruise line to offer something new and not just take things away. Right now, though, the company has only confirmed that these changes are so far only confirmed through July, through a statement released on its website.
"Securing working visas for the crew is currently a challenge for the entire cruise industry. It’s unfortunately impacting our staffing levels, particularly for Carnival’s culinary and beverage teams. We’ve made some temporary adjustments to our onboard offerings for sailings through July 31st, mostly around hours of operation and special events.”