P&O Cruises, Carnival Corporation’s UK-based contemporary cruise line, is temporarily pulling one of its cruise ships from operations, reporting that the line is facing pandemic-related crewing issues. Over the past two years, shipping lines, unions and major trade organizations have all complained about the crew crisis caused by travel restrictions and health regulations.
The 83,781 gross ton cruise ship Arcadia had just resumed service after two years of inactivity. “The current and extraordinary impact of COVID-19 in the UK, across the hospitality, services and airline industry, has resulted in a temporary disruption of crew members available to join our ships,” the cruise line said, indicating that seven cruises would be canceled. Due to return to the UK tomorrow April 12 from her first cruise which sailed to the Canary Islands and Spain on March 27, Arcadia will be inactive until July 5.
The cruise line has responded to the deluge of negative feedback from vacationers set to sail on upcoming cruises aboard the ship. Many said they had been waiting for their cruise for two years or more, noting that they had specifically selected Arcadia because the ship which accommodates 2,094 passengers is reserved for adult-only cruises.
“The impact of Covid on airlines and general disruption necessitated the cancellations as we need to move crew from Arcadia other ships in the fleet,” P&O replied to disappointed passengers. Cruise lines have worked to recruit and train crew, particularly for the hotel areas of their operations after repatriating the majority of their hotel crews at the start of the pandemic to countries including the Philippines, Indonesia and India. . While skeleton deck and engine crews remained aboard the ships during lay-up, without passengers, the majority of hotel crews lost their jobs.
Arcadia was the sixth P&O cruise ship to return to service and is operating normally with a crew of 866. When it resumed service in March, P&O Cruises Chairman Paul Ludlow said, “We’re back and it’s is certainly cause for celebration. important step as we will return all six ships to service and do what we do best.
The cruise line did not say if the crew shortage was due to other crew members testing positive for the virus or if they needed more crew for other ships as the line ramps up. its operations. P&O started limited cruising under the UK’s domestic cruise scheme last summer and then expanded into the Caribbean this winter. Another of the company’s ships is currently restarting cruises to Scandinavia.
P&O also found itself forced to respond to travelers who linked crewing issues to those of another company P&O Ferries, which laid off 800 of its crew in a money-saving operation. P&O Cruises has been forced to repeatedly explain that although they share a name, the two companies are unrelated and have been part of Carnival Corporation for 20 years with no shared ownership with DP World which acquired the ferry operation.
Earlier this year, the cruise industry faced challenges as passengers and crew both tested positive as the Omicron variant spread rapidly. P&O’s sister cruise line Cunard Line, which is also owned by Carnival, was forced to halt Christmas and New Year’s cruising aboard its flagship Queen Mary 2 because the ship was undermanned after an outbreak of COVID-19. American passengers were repatriated from the Caribbean while additional officers and crew were airlifted to the cruise ship which remained in Barbados.
P&O is seeking to assure its customers that its operations will be up to standard and will offer refunds to passengers on the seven canceled cruises.
Top photo: Arcadia in La Coruña on her first cruise in 2022 – photo by Estevoaei / CC by SA 4.0 license