The cruise line, along with rivals Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, has faced (and conquered) numerous challenges over the past two years.
The major cruise lines which sail out of the United States stared down a number of challenges since the covid pandemic hit. Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report, Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report dealt not only with the pandemic, but also with an at-times seemingly hostile relationship with the Centers for Disease Control which kept ships from sailing with passengers from March 2020 through July 2021.
Despite the ongoing problems caused by the pandemic, the three major cruise lines have managed to build their businesses back. It’s not a return to normal. Ships have mostly returned to near-full passenger loads, and onboard spending numbers have been high, but problems remain.
Carnival has had some very public struggles with finding enough crew to operate its ships at full capacity. That’s a problem all the cruise lines have had to some extent, with Carnival blaming the problem on having trouble getting U.S. visas processed due to the pandemic.
The cruise line even had to cancel some cruises due to a lack of crew members and some onboard events were cancelled. Carnival brand ambassador John Heald shared some detail on the cancellations on his Facebook page in mid-May.
“This is, of course, because of staff shortages,” Heald wrote. “Because of the situation with the U.S. government, who are themselves short-staffed, we have a massive backlog of visas that the crew need to come to the U.S. and on to the ships to work.”
Carnival Has Been Solving Its Crew Problems
Carnival President Christine Duffy has been working with U.S. authorities to solve the staffing problems, according to a report from Cruisehive.
“In a series of talks with the U.S. State Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the company managed to get several agreements in place that will help alleviate the problems it has been having with crewing its ships,” the website reported.
The cruise lines have been dealing with a number of problems when it comes to finding crew. First, the pandemic has led to some former crew members opting for other lines of work. Second, some potential crew have balked at the strict procedures set up for anyone working for Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Norwegian.
In many cases, crew members have only been given very limited shore leave (and earlier it was none at all). There have also been periodic restrictions where crew bars have been closed and gatherings limited to stop covid spread. In addition, covid breakouts have sometimes led to a shortage of available staff even on fully crewed ships.
Duffy, however, made it clear that things are getting better.
“We’ve actually made great progress recently with the U.S. State Department, which is providing support for us to get visas renewed. And we’ve been very grateful to CBP [the US Customs and Border Protection] which has allowed us to even bring some crewmembers in that may have an expired visa, so that at least they can work and we can continue to operate,” she told Cruisehive.