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Carnival Struggles With Crew Shortages (But it Has a Plan)

The cruise line faces a perfect storm of staffing issues.

From grocery stores to rideshare drivers, nearly every industry is dealing with a worker shortage at the moment, and that’s especially true of jobs that have a service industry component to them.

The reasons for the worker shortage are varied, and no one can pinpoint it to exactly one stress factor.

Some workers are mentally exhausted from the pandemic, while others are worried about their safety or their families’ safety, and some people took the forced pause brought on by the pandemic to rethink their life and career goals, and began pursuing other interests.

But the luxury cruise line industry has been especially impacted by the worker shortage, as many ships are only now returning to the seas after being docked for two years.

Because cruise lines nearly always flag their ships outside of the U.S. in order to work around American labor laws, the Center for Disease Control enforced strict regulations on the industry. 

Also, cruise lines sail all over the world, and because every country has different standards for shipline safety, major cruise lines such as Carnival  (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report always default to being as cautious as possible. 

You can’t fault an industry for taking the health and safety of its guests and workers as seriously as it can, especially in the wake of the recently identified and ultra contagious Omicron Subvariant BA.2.12.1. 

Last week the U.K.-based Cunard Line, a Carnival Cruise ship, drastically cut down on the guest capacity for the Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2, and P&O Cruises canceled seven sailings of Arcadia last month. Both cancellations were due to limited crew availability, which would have negatively impacted guest services.

One of the issues driving the worker shortage is that cruise ships have strict isolation and quarantining requirements for its workers, and the industry is dealing with tightening travel protocols, including strict visa restrictions that prevent members from traveling through multiple countries to join their contracted ships.

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In a recent Facebook post, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald acknowledged the worker shortages and the impact it’s been having on service.

How Is The Worker Shortage Impacting Carnival?

In his Facebook post, 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.”

This means that some onboard activities including dance parties, interactive games, and various crew-led activities will in some cases be temporarily removed from the ship’s daily schedules, and some production shows and musical performances may be canceled if the performers are unable to work.

Guests may also notice that it will take longer for staterooms to get serviced, and dining might take longer than normal.

In response, Heald said that Carnival’s management is aware of the worker shortage and looking to fix it: “I believe that Christine [Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line]...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.

People have a drink in a Carnival Cruise Bar Lead JS

How Can Cruise Ship Guests Make It Easier?

As noted by Cruise Hive, there are a number of steps that guests can make that can alleviate the strain caused by the worker shortage so that everyone can have a good time on their sailing.

The main thing is to be flexible, so if a planned activity gets canceled, consider playing miniature golf or shuffleboard on the sports court, or hit the pool. 

Guests can use the Carnival Hub app to make dining quicker and more efficient, and to keep track of the daily schedule so they’ll know what has been canceled that day.

So try to remember that even if the trip isn’t perfect and you're disappointed by a few things, you’re still on the water, so try to relax and have fun. After all, people go on vacation to forget their problems, so why not forget this also?