In a new five-minute video, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain expressed optimism that U.S. cruising could return this summer but cautioned against complacency.
“You all know about the changes in the science, the vaccines, the testing and the contact tracing,” he said. “They’ve all dramatically improved and that improvement has driven a fresh look at the state of affairs. Add in the arrangements we’re making with the local communities to deal with an incident if it occurs, and you have a dramatically improved situation.”
Fain also noted that successful cruises now operating elsewhere in the world have provided a framework for the resumption of cruising in the U.S.
“The other important change is that we now have data from operations around the world,” he said. “Over 400,000 people have taken cruises. That successful experience has not only given us comfort about the safety of cruising, it has given us data to discuss with the CDC and other health authorities. Based on that data, over 30 countries have already granted permission for cruising, and we’re optimistic that the CDC will too.”
“The CDC has publicly stated that this could enable cruising to restart as early as mid-July,” he continued. “We agree with that assessment and we’re more optimistic than ever that a realistic path forward can be achieved in that timeframe that would enable a summer season in Alaska and elsewhere. The final decisions are up to the CDC – as they should be – and I caution you that we can’t rejudge their decisions.
“The new leadership seems ready to have the kind of dialogue that could lead to a constructive outcome,” he said. “We need them to know that this matters. We need them to know that small businesses across the country are hurting and that they need the economic driver that cruising represents.”
He urged travel advisors to get the word out, but also urge clients to act responsibly.
“The pandemic is not over, as eager as we all are to move on, we can’t let our guard down in this last stretch,” Fain said. “The consequences of the disease are getting better, but that improvement has slowed and is in danger of getting worse if we get complacent.”
In conclusion, Fain said: “Things are decidedly looking up, our dialogue with the CDC has improved significantly, and the data we have obtained from sailings abroad is driving increased confidence. As the old adage says, there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, but we’re getting closer every day – and don’t forget to wear your mask and to wash your hands.”