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Staffing Issues Query


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Seems as though the Ovation of the Seas has staffing shortages currently.

I was wondering if any "experts" here are aware or have information as to if and when RCCL can add new staff.

I saw that there are alot of job postings for various positions for Ovation.

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RCCL doesn't work in a vacuum. Many on shore businesses across the world are facing staff shortages. In the case of NZ for example we have the lowest unemployment we've had in decades which is leading to staff shortages in some fields (Hospitality being one). 


Add to that visa delays, quarantine rules in some countries, vaccine requirements etc etc etc ,RCCL will be struggling to fil some positions just like everyone else

And then of course just like on land I imagine they will have staff having to quarantine because they test positive or are a close contact also adding to the shortages for particular sailings. If I am quarantining for 7 days that could be a whole 7 day cruise I can't work (or a couple of 3 and 4 night cruise etc). Being a staff p[lanner must be a nightmare about now.

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2 hours ago, EmersonNZ said:

RCCL doesn't work in a vacuum. Many on shore businesses across the world are facing staff shortages. In the case of NZ for example we have the lowest unemployment we've had in decades which is leading to staff shortages in some fields (Hospitality being one). 


Add to that visa delays, quarantine rules in some countries, vaccine requirements etc etc etc ,RCCL will be struggling to fil some positions just like everyone else

And then of course just like on land I imagine they will have staff having to quarantine because they test positive or are a close contact also adding to the shortages for particular sailings. If I am quarantining for 7 days that could be a whole 7 day cruise I can't work (or a couple of 3 and 4 night cruise etc). Being a staff p[lanner must be a nightmare about now.

Totally understandable. A couple of points though. 
 

1. Ovation of the seas opened up to full capacity coming to the US. In the few weeks it took to get here from Asia, they should have known about staffing.

 

2. unemployment rate in the USA, especially hospitality, is up from prepandemic times.

 

3. have not heard anything about ovation having COVID issues, only serenade of the seas.

 

My query was if anyone knew info regarding how they will fix this. Not necessarily an analysis for justification.

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I'm worried for the same reason you are: supposed to be onboard next week. It seems intractable (short of cancelling the next few sailings or paying out to reduce capacity) and this is an expensive vacation. Rather not blow the dough for excuse making, and we would be more than willing to move to next month if RCL would give honest answers/projections.

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14 minutes ago, LizzyBee23 said:

I'm worried for the same reason you are: supposed to be onboard next week. It seems intractable (short of cancelling the next few sailings or paying out to reduce capacity) and this is an expensive vacation. Rather not blow the dough for excuse making, and we would be more than willing to move to next month if RCL would give honest answers/projections.

Right. A lot of comments don’t seem to address those of us who aren’t made of money. I can’t just be like “oh well,” next cruise. My household income is pretty decent, but we can’t be throwing around $15k every month on a vacation.

I just want input from anyone who has reliable information. No excuses. No conjecture. I think our concerns are reasonable.

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1 hour ago, CruisingNewb said:

My query was if anyone knew info regarding how they will fix this. Not necessarily an analysis for justification.

42 minutes ago, CruisingNewb said:

I just want input from anyone who has reliable information. No excuses. No conjecture. I think our concerns are reasonable.

Understandable questions. Think everyone has concerns like you, us included. It is a lot of money and taking time off from work for a majority of us, I think.  Think RC may have increased guest capacity too much too soon. Their protocols have worked well for lower passenger counts but with increasing passengers they must have realized positive cases would increase too, no matter their pre-cruise testing/vaccination requirements. And being in quarantine just makes for a negative experience for those who turn up positive and a reason for some to not turn themselves in for feeling sick (hopefully not). They may also need to rethink crew quarantines too if it affects staffing issues where venues are closed or undeserved during a cruise.

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1 hour ago, BowTieBrigade said:

RC ramping up capacity beyond staffing is unacceptable. We’ve got four sailings booked and if our Ovation sailing is similar to our Navigator trip, we might have to cancel until the product matches the price. 

This!

I think we all understand the troubles of staffing right now, but RC should match their ships capacity with their staffing.

Increasing capacity in this circumstances it's totally unacceptable.

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Just because you haven’t heard of Covid issues doesn’t mean there aren’t there.  You’d be amazed at how many people are unaware of Covid amongst crew and passengers.  Have you followed any Facebook Ovation sailing groups to see what passengers are saying about Covid onboard and post cruise?
You asked about staffing issues and received input. Apparently  it’s not the answers you’d like.  What “experts” were you looking for?  If you are booked under cruise with confidence then maybe cancel and rebook for when employee levels meet your standards. 

 

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49 minutes ago, Pattycruise said:

Just because you haven’t heard of Covid issues doesn’t mean there aren’t there.  You’d be amazed at how many people are unaware of Covid amongst crew and passengers.  Have you followed any Facebook Ovation sailing groups to see what passengers are saying about Covid onboard and post cruise?
You asked about staffing issues and received input. Apparently  it’s not the answers you’d like.  What “experts” were you looking for?  If you are booked under cruise with confidence then maybe cancel and rebook for when employee levels meet your standards. 

 

I usually have no issues and quite enjoy your input, but my question(s) we’re pretty straightforward. I wanted to know from people “if/when” staffing issues were going to be handled. Instead, I got what I got. Was not looking for excuses or conjecture because it’s moot at this point. And by “experts” I meant Matt, anyone on the ship now or the past pacific cruise, or anyone who has been in contact with RCCL. Sorry for the ambiguity.

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56 minutes ago, CruisingNewb said:

I usually have no issues and quite enjoy your input, but my question(s) we’re pretty straightforward. I wanted to know from people “if/when” staffing issues were going to be handled. Instead, I got what I got. Was not looking for excuses or conjecture because it’s moot at this point. And by “experts” I meant Matt, anyone on the ship now or the past pacific cruise, or anyone who has been in contact with RCCL. Sorry for the ambiguity.

Got it.   I think anyone on the ship would only supply rumors unless it’s directly from the Captains mouth.  I doubt even the staff could supply a concrete answer as to when employee ratios will increase.  While not on the pacific coast I can tell you Anthem and Oasis had staff sick in quarantine in March, April and May.  I watched the “Covid dinners” go through the dining room on Anthem, when speaking with my stateroom attendant he mentioned sick crew. Shows were cancelled on both sailings.  While I see some have commented Royal should not have as many passengers if they can’t staff the ship I’m not sure how Royal would anticipate how many of their crew would get Covid any given week.  
 

maybe @Matt has some input. 

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14 hours ago, CruisingNewb said:

Seems as though the Ovation of the Seas has staffing shortages currently.

I was wondering if any "experts" here are aware or have information as to if and when RCCL can add new staff.

I saw that there are alot of job postings for various positions for Ovation.

Yes covid!!!!

 

There's a live blog called " Our journey starts today " where poster raises issue of shortage of staff onboard. The reason behind shortage is cleared up by a crew member onboards blog. 

so if you have 100 crew and 25 have to quarantine then your staffing lvl is only 75% to deal with 100% passengers! You cant have more crew onboard as you need cabins for them so 100% is the max

4 hours ago, CruisingNewb said:

 

My query was if anyone knew info regarding how they will fix this. Not necessarily an analysis for justification.

It should be sorted once crew are allowed out of quarantine hopefully this answers questions

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Chris Wong (Crew member currently on Ovation) mentioned in his vlog today 16/3) that all shore leave had been rescinded due to an increase in COVID amongst crew (Link to video). They had been granted freeflow shore leave about 2 weeks ago but that has now been withdrawn. Obviously this is pretty tough on the crew as it could mean they won’t have shore leave during their 6 to 9 month contracts.

This would indicate that the crew COVID numbers are higher than they had planned for given they are hving to take these measures knowing the impacts it will have on staff moral (They wouldn't make that change lightly). This could certianly play havoc with crew scheduling. You only need a couple of people in a deptment not being able to work to cause roster/staffing issues.  

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10 hours ago, CruisingNewb said:

I just want input from anyone who has reliable information. No excuses. No conjecture.

You wont find it here.

Internal staffing strategies and management is not something you're going to find on a third party fan website.

Referring to any of Royal Caribbean's job sites, you can see they are actively recruiting. Beyond that, we simply don't know and all we have is conjecture.

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8 minutes ago, LizzyBee23 said:

I get that no one has definite answers, maybe some suggestions for how we might get them?

My sailing leaves on Friday, and despite the supposed staff shortages, RCL is still selling berths. That doesn't really make sense to me, which makes me think I'm missing something.

I cannot think of a way to get answers before any sailing. You may have better luck getting answers once you are onboard, but no guarantees. 

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10 minutes ago, Spang1974 said:

I cannot think of a way to get answers before any sailing. You may have better luck getting answers once you are onboard, but no guarantees. 

Sure, but right now we could still pivot to a ship or sail date that isn't plagued (excuse the word choice) with problems. Much harder to do that once we're already onboard.

I have reached out to RCL through social media, and only got vague answers in response. Optimism would suggest they're trying to get better every week, so our sailing may be the best yet. Realism suggests past performance is the best indicator of future performance and we should jump ship while we can. Kind of hard to swallow the ambiguity when we know full well RCL's logistics planners have the answers we want.

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We're all still dealing with changes to cruising that may not match our expectations, which are based on previous experiences without the restrictions required by our current world situation.

I'm just happy to be getting onboard Ovation on Friday. If it's "not quite as good as my previous cruises" it will still be a cruise. If the experience is at the same percentage level vs. "normal" expectations as everything else in our lives, we will still have a great trip. 

It takes ten minutes to get a drink instead of seven? Okay. Fifteen minutes to get that late-night slice at Sorrento's rather than ten? So what? The drive-thru at Taco Bell last night took twenty minutes whereas it usually takes less than ten. That's the current reality we live with.

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13 minutes ago, LizzyBee23 said:

Sure, but right now we could still pivot to a ship or sail date that isn't plagued (excuse the word choice) with problems. Much harder to do that once we're already onboard.

I have reached out to RCL through social media, and only got vague answers in response. Optimism would suggest they're trying to get better every week, so our sailing may be the best yet. Realism suggests past performance is the best indicator of future performance and we should jump ship while we can. Kind of hard to swallow the ambiguity when we know full well RCL's logistics planners have the answers we want.

I would say pivot or change if you have expectations based on pre-covid cruising, or not willing to chance it. While I am sure RCI are providing a great service most of the time at the moment,  I dont think anyone can guarantee it. ANY ship could be hit by staff shortage due to Covid at any moment.

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Sure, and that kind of flexibility is something we can afford, too. But 3-4 hours for a dinner service? Whole mornings spent in lines to disembark at port? And not to mention things like Adventure Ocean and the North Star being closed. The sum total approaches unacceptability really quickly.

And sure... I'm willing to acknowledge that a COVID outbreak can change the way things are onboard quickly. I think it's reasonable to expect Royal to react in a way that also protects the guest experience... Perhaps by, at a minimum, allowing no new bookings on the ship experiencing a staff shortage?

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Ok. The reality now is that between now and the next few weeks, capacity issues and staffing shortages may not change.  I get that.  I would hope that RCCL is making adjustments to alleviate the issues.  

Just to clarify once again, who is asking for guarantees?  Also, is it wrong of any of us who CANNOT "pivot or change" their sailings to expect that if you knew you could be short staffed, maybe stop taking more cruisers on?  For example, I know from my own research that between March and May, the Ovation needs a few weeks to get to the Pacific Northwest.  That is a lot of time to begin implementing, AND information us of, change.  It is also a good time to begin limiting bookings to what has already been booked.  I think that is more than reasonable.

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1 hour ago, EmersonNZ said:

Chris Wong (Crew member currently on Ovation) mentioned in his vlog today 16/3) that all shore leave had been rescinded due to an increase in COVID amongst crew (Link to video). They had been granted freeflow shore leave about 2 weeks ago but that has now been withdrawn. Obviously this is pretty tough on the crew as it could mean they won’t have shore leave during their 6 to 9 month contracts.
 

I watched the video.  I never heard that the staff members of "Ovation" had covid.  I know that a sister ship had cases but not Ovation.  I may be wrong but I am just pointing out that Chris did not specifically say it was Ovation.

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9 minutes ago, Toby said:

What concerns me is I'm stuck with my Ovation booking as it was mostly paid for by FCCs well past their book by date.

 

Right.  I have two boys with active lives, summer school, etc.  My spouse and I have limited windows of time to take vacations.  We are stuck with our booking.  We intend to make the most of the situation because even a mediocre vacation may be better than no vacation.  I am not complaining.  I am wondering about the situation and hoping for the best.

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To be fair, these kinds of logistics issues (lack of staffing/supply chain failures) are lagging affectors and add to that, a COVID uptick (whether real or contrived) and you have a mess.  It is extremely difficult (impossible ?) for Royal to make a timely adjustment to a ship that has already been pretty much sold out.  Their only option would be to cancel existing reservations and NOBODY wants to be caught up in that !  Did Royal ramp up passenger density too quickly ?  Probably.  But it will take time to "fix" that and by then, who knows what the situation might be.  Kind of a catch-22.

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14 minutes ago, Spang1974 said:

Apologies, I never meant to infer anyone was looking for a guarantee or that pivot and change was an option for everyone. Guess I'm a half full kind of guy and I always expect for the worst and hope for the best. It is what it is.

No, no.  No apologies are necessary!  I get that words on the screen lose alot in terms of tone.  I am a legal professional and try to write a specific way.  So I may have come off brash.  In any event, you are correct in that glass half full is the way to go.  Better than an empty glass right? 😄

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8 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

To be fair, these kinds of logistics issues (lack of staffing/supply chain failures) are lagging affectors and add to that, a COVID uptick (whether real or contrived) and you have a mess.  It is extremely difficult (impossible ?) for Royal to make a timely adjustment to a ship that has already been pretty much sold out.  Their only option would be to cancel existing reservations and NOBODY wants to be caught up in that !  Did Royal ramp up passenger density too quickly ?  Probably.  But it will take time to "fix" that and by then, who knows what the situation might be.  Kind of a catch-22.

I agree it can become intractable really fast... Would have preferred to see them keep capacity at 75%ish, or put something in place kind of like the airlines when they become oversold.

Even if they ultimately decide to do nothing, communicating that things are not ideal and taking their lumps with healthy doling out of OBC is better than leaving everyone in this quagmire. 

Sorry if I seem short... Feeling disappointed, again. Gets tiring!

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11 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

To be fair, these kinds of logistics issues (lack of staffing/supply chain failures) are lagging affectors and add to that, a COVID uptick (whether real or contrived) and you have a mess.  It is extremely difficult (impossible ?) for Royal to make a timely adjustment to a ship that has already been pretty much sold out.  Their only option would be to cancel existing reservations and NOBODY wants to be caught up in that !  Did Royal ramp up passenger density too quickly ?  Probably.  But it will take time to "fix" that and by then, who knows what the situation might be.  Kind of a catch-22.

Very true.  I checked and did mock sailings every day from January through April.  There were tons of rooms left until about end of March.  I guess I was naive in thinking that they would limit bookings in March for a June sailing.  

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Me personally, working all through the last two years in a Pediatric Hospital (I'm just a secretary), I would probably be happy with a ship staying in port the whole cruise at this point. I did a sailing last year from Southampton and even with reduced capacity, Royal had more than one bar closed on board Anthem and even that small change impacted service levels. I noted it on my end of cruise survey and hoping that they have things sorted by September when we cruise next:)

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8 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

To be fair, these kinds of logistics issues (lack of staffing/supply chain failures) are lagging affectors and add to that, a COVID uptick (whether real or contrived) and you have a mess.  It is extremely difficult (impossible ?) for Royal to make a timely adjustment to a ship that has already been pretty much sold out.  Their only option would be to cancel existing reservations and NOBODY wants to be caught up in that !  Did Royal ramp up passenger density too quickly ?  Probably.  But it will take time to "fix" that and by then, who knows what the situation might be.  Kind of a catch-22.

It is a sad commentary about how demanding and unfulfilling the lower level hospitality positions really are.   I've had some of those jobs when I was a teenager and in college but certainly not on a cruise ship.  I have personally witnessed low level managers verbally abuse the servers and bus staff especially at the Windjammer when they are trying their best to keep up with their duties.  I have seen fellow passengers treating the staff like crap as well.  Pile on the fact that some have left their families back home for months at a time and it is no wonder those positions are hard to fill.

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30 minutes ago, CruisingNewb said:

I would hope that RCCL is making adjustments to alleviate the issues.  

That's certainly my outlook.

I truly believe they understand and see the problem, so at the very least this isn't a concern among guests that management hasn't gotten wind of yet.

Piggy backing on what others have said, I hope for the best and will have to bring some extra patience for getting a drink, slice of pizza, or waiting for a show.

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If Royal actually cancels the cruises I would imagine a lot more people would be here to complain about last minute cancellations (happened in January when they cancelled 3 ships worth of cruises for 3 months to utilize those ships for the lines Covid crew.  I will say that at least the people on this discussion are aware of what you are walking into.  There are many with their head in the sand who seem to think boarding a ship has zero risk of Covid and all crew is working and healthy.  On my sailing earlier this month people ran to Guest Services to cancel gratuities because the shows didn't run.  This was really ignorant, as gratuities go to those hard working people who are picking up the slack of their sick crewmates, not to the entertainment staff.   

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10 minutes ago, Pattycruise said:

On my sailing earlier this month people ran to Guest Services to cancel gratuities because the shows didn't run.  This was really ignorant, as gratuities go to those hard working people who are picking up the slack of their sick crewmates, not to the entertainment staff.   

I kind of get it... RCL seems unwilling to compensate people for a substandard product, while now booking at full capacity. I understand that the cost of COVID mitigation is high, but if you ask your customers (who you lured on the ship with promises of entertainment or amenities that never materialize) to bear too much of that cost to push you into the black, well... What's that old saying? Poo rolls downhill?

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OK.  So...not to betray Matt and this WONDERFUL website of his, but I spent an hour reading through another forum thread by someone who was on the Ovation right now.  Here are my takeaways:

1. No reports of Covid on board (at least from the posts that I read).

2. About 3900 passengers on board, which is about a little over 80% capacity if using max numbers).

3. Longest wait time for a meal in the MDR was 1 hr 45 min., but reports of a little over an hour were also present.

4. Northstar, from my research, prior blogs and vlogs, has been intermittently down since Ovation was in Asia.

5. Embarkation for the 11 am boarding took about 45 minutes (which is more than okay with me).

6. MANY people were NOT prpeared to board (ie: muster drill, ArriveCan, documentation, etc.)

7. Only a few shows were cancelled/not offered.

8. According to 10-42, one of our members, the Solarium Bistro was closed, but I am not sure if it was for lunch, or permanently for that cruise.

All in all, it doesn't look that bad at all!!!! 😃

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