Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, have announced they will be laying off hundreds of employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s CEO Arnold Donald said the combination of lay-offs and pay cuts were “necessary” as the pause on cruise travel enters its third month.
The majority of affected employees in the US will be in Florida, California and Washington state, Carnival Corporation said in an email. The company is eliminating 820 positions and furloughing 537 employees (meaning employees will stay on the payroll, even though they aren’t working) for up to six months in Florida out of a workforce of about 3000 employees.
Carnival Corporation did not reveal the number of job eliminations in the other states or countries around the world.
“Taking these extremely difficult employee actions involving our highly dedicated workforce is a very tough thing to do. Unfortunately, it’s necessary, given the current low level of guest operations and to further endure this pause,” Mr Donald said in a statement.
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In a statement provided to news.com.au, a spokesperson for Carnival Australia said new working arrangements had been put in place for “shoreside employees including some redundacies”.
“The new arrangements include the introduction of a four-day working week but with some shoreside staff being asked to work fewer hours than this or having positions paused for a period,” the Carnival Australia spokesperson said in a statement.
“The company’s leadership team will have a pay cut of 20 per cent while continuing their current workload. The changes have become necessary because the worldwide pause in cruise operations has been more prolonged than anticipated with indications that it will not be short-lived.”
It is understood Carnival Australia President Sture Myrmell outlined the changes in a special message to employees in which he expressed sadness at the impact COVID-19 has had on the business and its employees.
Cruise lines announced they were halting sailing on March 13 due to the spread of the coronavirus. Several cruise ships saw outbreaks of COVID-19 cases and found themselves stranded at sea after being rejected by port authorities who were worried they would import more cases.
Companies have been trying to repatriate tens of thousands of crew members who are still on ships in or near US waters due to the increase in restrictions by health authorities in the US and abroad.
Carnival Cruise Line, one of the company’s brands, announced earlier this month it will start cruising again beginning in August to Caribbean destinations from Florida and Texas.
Earlier today, Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham cautioned Australians against booking cruise tickets for the foreseeable future, saying there was no set date for when they will be allowed to return back at sea.
Cruise companies around the world are still taking bookings for later this year, and early next despite restrictions still in place.
“We haven’t got to the specifics of talking about their restarting, and frankly, the first hurdle they’ve got to clear is with health officials, not with tourism ministers, to demonstrate that they can operate in a COVID-safe way,” he said.
Earlier this month, Carnival Cruise line said it would phase in some cruises beginning August 1 in North America with the lure of low prices to attract passengers.
In a statement, the cruise company said eight Carnival cruise ships will depart from the United States from August 1 with “enhanced operational protocols”.
In Australia, Carnival said all of its Splendor cruises from June 19 to August 31 will be cancelled including the Honolulu-Brisbane transpacific cruise on October 6, 2020.
Carnival, which is the parent company of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, has been at the centre of the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning.
To date, 22 people who were passengers on board the Ruby Princess have died after it docked in Sydney on March 19. The ship has been linked to almost 700 other cases.
News.com.au has contacted Carnival Australia for comment.
– with AP