While cruises have returned to sailing — including Carnival returning all 23 of its ships back to service — the comeback hasn’t been without some hiccups. The challenge of returning dozens of ships with thousands of crew during a worldwide pandemic has created hurdles that every cruise line has faced.
Now there will be another adjustment to upcoming cruises on Carnival.
The cruise line confirmed to Cruzely that it will temporarily suspend dinner service at Cucina del Capitano and The Chef’s Table across the fleet through June due to staffing issues on ships.
In a statement, Carnival told Cruzely:
“In order to maximize the guest experience and our guest service, we are making modest adjustments to some of our service offerings for sailings departing through June 30. Most of these will have a negligible impact.
“Our rapid and successful restart has required us to bring back thousands of crew members in a very short time, which has increased the number of resources needed for government officials to process the large number of visa applications and slowed down our ability to fully staff some of our functions, including our culinary team.”
Cucina del Capitano is the classic Italian restaurant aboard Carnival, serving staple dishes from chicken parmigiana to linguini, risotto, and more. The Chef’s Table is a high-end VIP dining experience hosted by the ship’s Master Executive Chef. Both are specialty restaurants that feature an extra charge for dinner.
A letter posted by a user on the popular CruiseCritic message board outlined more comments from the cruise line regarding the change. The letter — and confirmed by Carnival — does say Cucina del Capitano will still operate as usual on Mardi Gras. It will also remain open for lunch and have some dishes available in the dining room:
“We regret the disappointment this may cause as we know our guests enjoy this specialty dining venue. It will remain open for lunch, and we will also be offering featured Cucina entrees on the main dining room menu each night, at no additional charge,” the letter stated.
Challenges of Staffing Across Ships
This change highlights an issue that was covered by Carnival President Christine Duffy during a panel on travel at the Milken Institute Global Conference roughly two weeks ago.
“The U.S. State Department is very backed up with processing visas. So we’ve not been able to get people their visas that are required for them to come back to work. We are really feeling the challenge of being able to get crew back,” Duffy said.
And when asked if a lack of workers is preventing the cruise line from having more passengers on its ships, Duffy said that was the case.
“We have more demand than we can accommodate because of challenges,” she added. “We’ve been working with the State Department and Commerce [Department] and the [Biden] Administration.”
While these sorts of challenges will no doubt take time to get through, it’s obvious the same disruptions we’ve all felt on land due to the upheaval of the past two years are also being felt at sea well after the cruise restart.