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Troubled waters loom for the cruise industry as it grapples with declining staff amid warming travel

After two years of COVID lockdowns and juggling health-related guidelines, the cruise industry faces its latest set of challenges as a record travel season is expected this summer.

Colleen McDaniel, editor of Cruise Critic, told Ashley Webster of FOX Business that supply chain issues have caused delays for many cruise lines due to unveil new ships to the public.

“We’ve seen a number of cruise ships get delayed for their debuts because of this,” McDaniel said.

But, as McDaniel noted, supply chain issues aren’t the only ones plaguing the industry this summer: Ongoing staff shortages have helped delay the industry’s post-pandemic rebound, forcing the world’s most notable cruise lines to find new ways to accommodate passengers.

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In a statement to FOX Business, Norwegian Cruise Lines told the network that “Due to the tight labor market, we have been unable to fully staff Pride of America. Therefore, in order to maintain the best possible onboard guest experience, we are operating at a lower guest capacity.”

Flexibility has been key to navigating the travel industry and in order to ensure the best experience for their customers, cruise liners are forced to limit the occupancy of their ships.

But since staffing issues are a major concern for many businesses, the cruise industry has a unique case, as most cruise ships employ people from overseas.

Carnival Freedom docked in Jamaica

Montego Bay, Jamaica – April 30, 2019: Carnival Freedom cruise ship docked at Montego Bay cruise port in Freeport (iStock/iStock)

At the start of the pandemic, employees returned to their home countries as travel advisories came into effect to curb the pandemic.

Now that travel restrictions have eased, many people employed by cruise lines in the United States have not been able to renew their work visas in a timely manner due to a safeguard at the State Department .

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The multiple setbacks come at a time when the cruise industry is desperately trying to catch up after losing nearly $63 billion due to the pandemic.

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