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Staffing Issues Query


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I was on Anthem at reduced capacity and then Quantum at close to capacity just over a month apart.  The cruise experience was night and day.

Royal has chosen to sacrifice safety and quality in order to please wall street.   

They have full control over this situation.

 

For the naysayers stating they need to make money.   They've already stated and proven they can make money at a lower capacity.  This is about corporate greed and nothing more.

 

 

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The other element of beginning to make a profit, something they hope to do later this year, is that once that happens doesn't mean it's 2019 and all their debt is gone.

Once they begin to enter positive revenue they aren't losing money any more but now they have to begin paying off that $42B in debt.  

It's going to take 10+ years of positive revenue until that debt is dealt with in a meaningful way and that's assuming no more curve balls or bad hurricane seasons thrown their way.  

Service is not going to be what it was like for a long time.  Get used to it.  

 

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Like another person mentioned, where would they house contingency workers? I sailed Freedom in Feb at 50% but it was fully staffed. With the exception of entertainment crew, these ships have been fully staffed the entire restart. They were paying full staff for 50% or sometimes even lower sailings. Before covid was only 2500 or so crew for the 6000+ pax. A lot of people cruised with reduced capacity and seem to forget it was a higher ratio of guest to crew. IMHO the cruise lines have it much better when it comes to staffing than any other business, they have a higher pool of applicants. So, it is exacerbating circumstances that are affecting them and not regular staffing issues. 

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6 hours ago, Flaps said:

- you can't have contingency staffing INA cruise ship. Where are they supposed to live? The lifeboats?

I believe, and I may be wrong, but RCCL has at least three (3) ships in Alaska.  They are Quantum class ships.  If those ships did not have covid outbreaks or what have you, why not borrow staff amongst the sister ships?  No need to be crass.

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7 minutes ago, CruisingNewb said:

I believe, and I may be wrong, but RCCL has at least three (3) ships in Alaska.  They are Quantum class ships.  If those ships did not have covid outbreaks or what have you, why not borrow staff amongst the sister ships?  No need to be crass.

Two Quantum, two Radiance class for this year.

They are moving crew between ships but that practice will also result in calls of foul play for the guests of the donor ship on that particular cruise even if guest numbers are lower for that sailing.  Plus the ships don't always port the same week to week so it complicates temporary borrowing of crew and makes crew life very hard on them.   

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16 minutes ago, twangster said:

Two Quantum, two Radiance class for this year.

They are moving crew between ships but that practice will also result in calls of foul play for the guests of the donor ship on that particular cruise even if guest numbers are lower for that sailing.  Plus the ships don't always port the same week to week so it complicates temporary borrowing of crew and makes crew life very hard on them.   

Thanks for that info.  That answers the statement: You can't have contingency staffing INA cruise ship."  

I think that if there are other ships, borrowing a few from each ship in the aggregate would help at least a little.  And my point is having a plan should be expected from big businesses.  So many comments here implying that a consumer should bear the burden of staffing issues.  I totally get the business side of things.  But a failure to communicate, failure to address issues, and expectations that the consumer needs to buck up and take it are NOT good business.  

Matt stated something to the effect that Royal prides itself and strives for customer satisfaction.  I truly believe that, but for the uninformed consumer, like me, it would be nice to know from Royal that the Ovation staffing issues are being looked at.

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2 hours ago, jticarruthers said:

 

The cruise was still a good one and I wouldn't go back and "not do it" but you know its not good when the writeup for every event/venue includes the words "drinks will not be served at/during this event, please make sure to bring them with you".

 

beer barrel GIF by Bud Light

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I’m guessing we were lucky last week on Symphony. I saw no issues involving staffing. Plenty of beverage staff at the pools. Service in the MDR  was fine. No meal took longer that one hour 15 mins. The only thing canceled was the 1977 show “due to technical difficulties “. 
The odd thing was I saw what seemed to be extra security personal throughout the ship. Our previous cruise in 2019 I don’t remember seeing that many. 
Other than that we experienced no staffing issues that affected our cruise. 

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13 minutes ago, CruisingNewb said:

Thanks for that info.  That answers the statement: You can't have contingency staffing INA cruise ship."  

I think that if there are other ships, borrowing a few from each ship in the aggregate would help at least a little.  And my point is having a plan should be expected from big businesses.  So many comments here implying that a consumer should bear the burden of staffing issues.  I totally get the business side of things.  But a failure to communicate, failure to address issues, and expectations that the consumer needs to buck up and take it are NOT good business.  

 

Previous threads a month or so ago talked about how crew with covid were taken off various ships and transferred onto a hospital ship and how other crew joined ship to replace those infected. So measures are in place it could just be the higher numbers of infected on this cruise thats having a more serious impact on how quickly someone gets a beer.

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20 minutes ago, Ray said:

Previous threads a month or so ago talked about how crew with covid were taken off various ships and transferred onto a hospital ship and how other crew joined ship to replace those infected. So measures are in place it could just be the higher numbers of infected on this cruise thats having a more serious impact on how quickly someone gets a beer.

Thank you for that!  Information like this really helps ease some of my anxiety as I am sure for others as well.

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It seems as if there are two discussions trying to occupy the same space. One is talking about understaffing and the other is talking about full staffing with reductions caused by Covid. Aside from the fact that RCCL is currently recruiting, is there any information that ships are or are not fully staffed without the Covid quarantines?

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8 minutes ago, BowTieBrigade said:

It seems as if there are two discussions trying to occupy the same space. One is talking about understaffing and the other is talking about full staffing with reductions caused by Covid. Aside from the fact that RCCL is currently recruiting, is there any information that ships are or are not fully staffed without the Covid quarantines?

Well you know how that goes...a thread starts, people misread or decide to add extraneous info, thread takes on a life of its own...😆

Your question is a great question.  I was hoping that some past Ovation cruisers would share compasses (actually, I think the first Alaskan cruise was this week), to get crew member compliments and capacity info.  That information, at least for the crew compliments, could be compared to previous sailings and/or the known max crew compliment.  

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4 hours ago, twangster said:

Two Quantum, two Radiance class for this year.

They are moving crew between ships but that practice will also result in calls of foul play for the guests of the donor ship on that particular cruise even if guest numbers are lower for that sailing.  Plus the ships don't always port the same week to week so it complicates temporary borrowing of crew and makes crew life very hard on them.   

Not to mention, the staff in question are being moved around like pieces on a chessboard are people, who live on their ship. Just moving them around and switching up everything all over again so somebody doesn't have to wait as long for a drink... probably contributes to the ability to hire more staff. Who wants to be moved to a ship with an outbreak so that the unaffected cruisers get the service they are expecting just to get quarantined and kept there and unable to go back to where you had signed on to be?  

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3 hours ago, cruisellama said:

Will we see the surcharge come back?

My crystal ball says yes largely because I don't see the Russia-Ukraine thing stopping soon.  Get used to $5/gal gas prices.  Eventually the hedge will run out and Royal will have to renew their fuel contracts.  

If the war expands that could be really hard on the cruise lines.  Bookings are soft in Europe as it is.  Not what the cruise lines needed in the aftermath of a pandemic that isn't over.   

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41 minutes ago, twangster said:

Bookings are soft in Europe as it is.  Not what the cruise lines needed in the aftermath of a pandemic that isn't over.   

I'm reading observations of that from a number of travelers on some Celebrity cruises this month.   US is still requiring negative tests for reentry of US citizens by air travel and that makes the European venture less attractive for some.

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5 hours ago, BowTieBrigade said:

It seems as if there are two discussions trying to occupy the same space. One is talking about understaffing and the other is talking about full staffing with reductions caused by Covid. Aside from the fact that RCCL is currently recruiting, is there any information that ships are or are not fully staffed without the Covid quarantines?

It has the same net effect, so perhaps this is a distinction without a difference.

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8 hours ago, cruisellama said:

I'm reading observations of that from a number of travelers on some Celebrity cruises this month.   US is still requiring negative tests for reentry of US citizens by air travel and that makes the European venture less attractive for some.

The US testing for International travel requirement is absolutely killing the travel industry but as we all know the CDC doesn't consider the impacts of its policies on people or business. 

If the CDC is providing the nails for the coffin many European nations are swinging the hammer with some of their unfortunate policies right now.  In Italy if you test positive you are forced into a 7 or 10 day quarantine depending when you last got a shot.  That's hitting some cruisers pretty hard right now who make the mistake of getting tested in Italy.  A negative spouse can't stay with a positive spouse so that's a separate hotel expense.   So many different European countries have different policies even within the EU so it makes trying to figure it all out a pretty big PITA.  

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There was an article last week about the airlines, Disney and others sending a letter to the White House to dump the testing requirement because it's killing travel

 

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/travel/news/when-will-the-us-drop-covid-test-requirements-disney-and-travel-firms-demand-end-to-testing-restrictions/ar-AAX6YGY

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Was on Ovation last week in Alaska and they are not dealing well with higher passenger numbers.  Nearly every morning and afternoon in Windjammer the announcement of reaching capacity and having long waits to get in was happening since very few of their venues were open at these times.  Solarium cafe only opened once and after the second morning, remained closed.  
At Jamie’s for lunch on day 7, from ordering to entree was 95 minutes and another 25 minutes to dessert. 
Main dinning room had several new wait staff and assistants that never performed these duties; they tried hard and did a good job but wait times and incorrect orders were typical first 3-4 days of the cruise, then they got into a groove. 
Overall the wait times hurt the overall enjoyment of the cruise; it was our 14th or 15th RCC cruise and the first ‘disappointing’ one we ever had. 
Not customer centric when they are knowingly understaffed….. they tried hard and the staff worked hard to please people but they couldn’t keep up the usual standard of Royal that we have experienced in the past. 

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18 hours ago, LizzyBee23 said:

It has the same net effect, so perhaps this is a distinction without a difference.

Same net effect WRT experience, for sure. But there are many who are rightly pointing out that sailings with full staff counts that are reduced by covid outbreaks cannot “staff up” due to unpredictability and occupancy limitations. On the other hand, RCCL knowing of a staffing shortage and booking passengers beyond what the ships are capable of handling with their known staffing numbers is bad business practice. 

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There we go.  Royal knew of the staffing issue.

So funny reading comments saying that we as the consumer should expect less and that somehow, we are out of touch with reality.

Bottom line is that although Royal is a business and they need to be profitable, they went months at lesser capacity cruisers and provided for overall satisfaction.  If satisfaction is the key to profit, full capacity is not the way to do it given the realities of covid, shortages of goods and services, etc.  Go less capacity and provide strong service.  

I hope that things turn around soon.  This post was never meant to be a downer post.  I will, and encourage others to, still try to make this a positive experience and have fun.

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Interesting statement from Royal Caribbean that is posted above.  One incorrect statement on our cruise was that as a first cruise to Alaska for Ovation, the weather was great most of the 8 days, only 2 days of rain, rest really nice so could be out and about.  
 

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Just returned from a trip to Alaska on Ovation.  Staffing issues are REAL.  Lines are never ending.  Wait times are long.  They booked to capacity.  After 10 Cruises on RCCI, I may think twice on booking another.  They (the management) should take a look and lower the bookings until staffing can be corrected.  SAD at the once in a lifetime trip was tainted by a company we have been loyal to.  RCCI's shut down made them forget who their true customer guests are.  Do better RCCI!

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I rarely post but as I am on an upcoming Ovation cruise, I wanted to weigh in. We have only sailed Star since the restart. Our first cruise was lackluster at best. Nothing comparable to a pre-covid Star (which we have also sailed) experience. We are a family of 3, not very needy in the request to Genie experience. What we dealt with was lost bags, poor service and slow wait times. Things everyone deals with.  We don’t care about the opinion of folks that sail every week and defend RCL due to Covid. Bottom line up front…we don’t all sail every week. We save thousands, spend thousands to give our families an amazing experience. It is RCLs responsibility to provide customer satisfaction. I do not need to understand I dang thing about their bottom line. They fail…someone will buy their ships and I will still sail. They are a business. I will support the best value for my dollar. Having been disappointed in Star, I can only imagine the disappointment for folks that dont have genies. For all you defenders of this company, You need to look at what keeps the ship afloat. Customer Satisfaction. I am tired of old timers telling me I should lower expectations for the company. They have ended many Covid related programs that protect me. Not to mention, FCC is expiring and Royal spent many months taking those 90 day deposits in the outset. Defend as you will, I am Diamond Plus and ticked. Not about brand loyalty but burned up about old timers telling new folks to expect less. They shouldn’t. Food for thought, my upcoming Ovation cruise will cost 51 per night. Doesnt sound like much until you divide it by 365. That is right. My upcoming cruise, without added excursions, cost 51 per night for an entire year. You are damned right I expect a Royal experience. Us whales keep the fleet afloat. 

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On 5/16/2022 at 10:59 AM, CruisingNewb said:

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!!!! 😃

Now that you mention it, I don't believe Solarium Bistro was on my list (embarking next week) of restaurant choices.

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3 hours ago, HomosassaMarshall said:

Just returned from a trip to Alaska on Ovation.  Staffing issues are REAL.  Lines are never ending.  Wait times are long.  They booked to capacity.  After 10 Cruises on RCCI, I may think twice on booking another.  They (the management) should take a look and lower the bookings until staffing can be corrected.  SAD at the once in a lifetime trip was tainted by a company we have been loyal to.  RCCI's shut down made them forget who their true customer guests are.  Do better RCCI!

If you watch any YouTube videos from people sailing on other lines, the stories are the same. Staff shortages are everywhere and are not unique to Royal Caribbean.

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8 hours ago, natalie.gonzalez said:

that is sad to hear. we are cruising june 24 on ovation. 

June 24 is a long way out.  There can be a vast  improvement by then since I would think most staff would have already had Covid and recovered and any fresh staff that were hired will have at least a months experience, if not more, under their belt.

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10 hours ago, SpeedNoodles said:

If you watch any YouTube videos from people sailing on other lines, the stories are the same. Staff shortages are everywhere and are not unique to Royal Caribbean.

if you watch youtube videos on any industry or simply observe your service industry surroundings, you know everything has been hammered by the great resgnation/covid. Cruise companies have to deal with visas and other country's covid mandates. I am sure its a nightmare to get staff back from all corners of the world. Cruising may never be what it was pre-covid. Also, I am sure alot of staff have simply rethought their career plans and left cruise service altogether. We all came back with 2019 expectations/desires for how things should be but have to face the reality it may never be that way again or it will be years. Yes they could book less passengers per cruise to mitigate some of it, but as TWangster said, they have billions of dollars in debt to repay. This is the new reality of cruising ya'll. 

https://www.thestreet.com/investing/carnival-cruise-line-crew-shortage-leads-to-cancellations?puc=yahoo&cm_ven=YAHOO

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I'm loyal to no one and I fully acknowledge it sucks to be on a cruise and not get what you paid for. It's not okay. 

But as said many times in this thread alone, this is the state of the world right now. I'm feeling it in my own job - hiring for a job in my dept and usually get a bunch of resumes - I'm getting next to nothing. Add people getting sick and things are even more complicated. Friends in other fields seeing the same. My dogwalking company was short a few weeks ago and people didn't have coverage for their pups.

 

None of this is okay but for a while this is what it is. No, it doesn't make sense to me that cruise ships are at full capacity right now....but don't we all know this a risk when we book cruises right now? I canceled my march one because I wasn't comfortable around so many people at this time. I scheduled for September hoping for the best but knowing what I'm in for. 

 

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18 hours ago, natalie.gonzalez said:

that is sad to hear. we are cruising june 24 on ovation. 

So am I and a LOT of others.  It is the President's Cruise, so I have to imagine they are working through these issues over the next month and we may be fortunate enough to enjoy a better experience..... Obviously that does not help others.  But with the Alaska season just starting up, hopefully it is just the temp growing pains from starting up.

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I understand that the main point of this thread is about The Ovation, however this is fleet wide, and worldwide, seems like nothing is untouched.

We love cruising (preferred choice of vacation travel) and understand that during these times it is not always easy to have everything go smoothly Bottom line is on a ship you are a fully “captive audience”, and really don’t have any choices when shows are canceled, or venues are closed.  We sailed on the Allure a few months ago a few days not all most activities throughout the day into evening were canceled this included some venues onboard closed, no big shows. This was not listed in the cruise planner, and we heard the announcement mid-day.

When we do a “land trip” (very rare nowadays) and things go south we can easily move to a different place, go back home or stay.  Granted, we have not done much traveling over the last three years and on a ship, this is a totally different ball of wax.  You can always reach out on social media go to guest services, and that is about it, you can’t “leave and go to another place", check out, walk to another show down the street. I have never heard about anyone doing that on a cruise, leaving early by choice.

Lastly all the prices have increased greatly for onboard and shore excursions.  We do our best with vacation dollars, we live nowhere near a port, then you add the cost of testing and other expenses we hope that the ports of call are open and the staff aboard the ship can handle the full capacity.  I am not “ready” to say well this is the way it is going to be, that might make us change the way we travel with vacations.  You pay (in some cases) a premium price, I expect premium service.

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Having read through this whole thread, a few observations:

1. FWIW, crew shortages, and worker shortages writ large, are not due to "the great resignation." In the US, it's simply a numbers game, and our friend from NZ alluded to record low unemployment there, so I suspect it's true in other countries as well. (FYI, I'm a "recovering economist" - former Chief Economist for a $50B financial institution.) US nonfarm payrolls are still some 1.2M below pre-pandemic levels, so we haven't yet recovered all the jobs we eliminated when we shut the economy down. AND - that doesn't account for normal growth over the ensuing 15 months, so that puts us another 3M or so jobs behind. We're at least 15 months out from equilibrium, unless a recession shortens that.

2. Crew shortages are affecting all lines. Tony at La Lido Loca has vlogged about this on Carnival (which has closed two popular dining venues until further notice), Cunard (which has canceled sailings), and NCL (which, I believe, has also canceled sailings). So being "done with RCCL" isn't much of a solution.

3. I fully empathize with everyone's concerns over this. You work hard for your money (queue up Agador Spartacus) and you expect to be treated right. Only the cruise lines' accountants can say for sure whether it was better to move to full capacity and be short-staffed (it ain't just covid, folks, visas have a lot to do with it), or remain below capacity. Reputation risk is hard to mitigate, because it's not transferable. Time will tell.

4. We are Diamond Plus with over 20 cruises under our belts, and have averaged a cruise a year since we got our sea legs. Our last cruise was Jan/Feb 2020, and we're having withdrawal symptoms, but we waited until the mask theatre ended. We're booked on a TA out of Barcelona on Jewel in late Oct. The good thing about a TA is that we don't really care if shows get canceled, activities get canceled, the Solarium Bistro is closed, etc., etc. We'll sit on the balcony of our aft suite and gaze out at the wide blue Atlantic, which is what we were gonna do anyway. And we don't eat in the MDR anymore (been there, done that), so we don't really care how long dinner takes. We figure a TA is a good first cruise back.

But for the rest of you - again, I empathize. Only you can decide whether it's worth getting back out there and accepting the glitches, or waiting. Again, switching lines isn't an option, because it's universal. And it's not just cruising. I've seen more restaurants close locally in the last six months due to lack of staff than closed in 2020 due to the shutdown, including upscale places. And service? My wife picked up fast food burgers last week, and hers had the bun, the cheese, the tomato, the lettuce, the pickles, and the condiments - but no meat. Things can always be worse.

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On 5/15/2022 at 8:53 PM, CruisingNewb said:

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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On 5/18/2022 at 7:25 PM, HomosassaMarshall said:

Just returned from a trip to Alaska on Ovation.  Staffing issues are REAL.  Lines are never ending.  Wait times are long.  They booked to capacity.  After 10 Cruises on RCCI, I may think twice on booking another.  They (the management) should take a look and lower the bookings until staffing can be corrected.  SAD at the once in a lifetime trip was tainted by a company we have been loyal to.  RCCI's shut down made them forget who their true customer guests are.  Do better RCCI!

On last week's Ovation cruise, other than the long lines to debark and re-board in Juneau due to the delayed arrival (caused by a crew-member medical evacuation), we didn't feel like any waits were unusually long for a ship carrying over 4000 passengers. Guess it's really a matter of perspective.

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