Labor Shortages Hurting Cruise Industry’s Recovery

Labor Shortages Hurting Cruise Industry's Recovery

Cleaning carts in corridor on a cruise ship. (photo via mgstudyo / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The cruise industry is facing a serious test as labor shortages have forced cruise lines to cancel voyages and implement occupancy constraints.

According to, the cruise industry employs about 250,000 onboard workers from over 100 countries, but pandemic-related visa restrictions and “a general preference for flexible working hours” have impacted company staff numbers.

To deal with the labor problems, Carnival Cruise Line reduced the operating hours of restaurants and restricted how many passengers can be on certain sailings, while Norwegian Cruise Line has outright canceled entire voyages on its Pride of America ship.

“The labor shortage couldn’t come at a worse time because the cruise industry is finally starting to see recovery from being the worst impacted industry by COVID,” Similarweb travel and leisure analyst Jim Corridore told Reuters.

In addition to labor problems, rising inflation rates, a recessionary threat and high fuel prices are also impacting the industry’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Even with the concerns, cruise operators are still confident about the industry’s bounceback in the long term.

The cruise industry’s contribution to the global economy declined by more than 50 percent to $63.4 billion in 2020, and experts are concerned that if the current issues continue, “it will be hard for the sector to bounce back from those levels.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships and released a new set of recommendations for the industry.

In response, reported shares of cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian rose when the news of restrictions being lifted broke.

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