Like the airline industry, cruise ships are faced with a shortage of workers industrywide, resulting in a slew of cancellations through fall.
Bloomberg reported that several top cruise lines, such as Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., are canceling sailings or reducing passenger capacity due to labor shortages.
Carnival Corp.’s Princess Cruises canceled eleven sailings on its Diamond Princess for the fall season, indicating it couldn’t provide exceptional customer service amid labor shortages affecting almost every major cruise operator.
Another large cruise operator, Norwegian Cruise Line, reduced passenger capacity because of staffing woes.
“We’re not immune to it,” Norwegian’s chief executive officer, Frank Del Rio, said of industrywide labor shortages.
Also, P&O Cruises, a Carnival division, said seven sailings earlier this summer were canceled due to staffing shortages.
Besides canceled sailings, for the cruise ship operators who continue to sail — many are suspending special offerings while out at sea, such as special events because there’s not enough staff.
“There will be pizza available for virtually the entire time most guests are awake,” Chris Chiames, a spokesman for Carnival Cruise Line, said in an email. The company also scaled back its complimentary birthday cakes and a chocolate extravaganza buffet, cuts made in part due to low staffing as well as general adjustments to match guest demand, according to Chiames.
Just like the airplane pilot shortage that could take years to fix. According to Jim Walker, a Miami-based maritime lawyer, only 5% of cruise-ship employees are Americans. He said long hours and low pay make working in the cruise ship industry unappealing to most domestic workers.
Avid cruise traveler, Linda Warhaftig, said understaffing on the Carnival Horizon and Conquest was noticeable in June when the decks were covered with trash.
“After what I witnessed in June, I canceled my Carnival cruises for the rest of this year,” Warhaftig said.
Despite the staffing issues, Jefferies Group analyst David Katz said bookings remain robust, though customers should probably expect “that service levels are not going to be just yet what they had been.”