Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO, Richard Fain, has talked about “a year of frustration and disappointment” in a video dedicated to the first anniversary of the pause in cruising operations. However, Fain added that he believes that the cruise industry is finally on the mend
“Finally, we are beginning to see the light of day,” he said in a Youtube video shared by Royal Caribbean’s Vicki Freed on March 1. “Ironically, while we are now entering what should be the most positive phase of the process, it may also be one of the most frustrating phases. These are the most hopeful days we’ve had in a long time.”
Fain compared the course of the pandemic to “eating dinner.”
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t think about dessert before I go out to dinner. But once I finished my entree, I can’t wait for the dessert. I think we’re entering that kind of a period … We need to be careful that we don’t screw it up as eager as I am to get to dessert, especially if it involves chocolate cake, I know I should eat my entree before I eat the cake,” he said.
Fain explained that society now has “the ultimate weapon” to get the coronavirus under control.
“We have three vaccines, which have all proven to be safe and effective in containing this virus, and they are being rapidly deployed,” he said. “The beautiful part of this is that we know the vaccines work, we’re no longer talking about theory or expectations. For example, in Israel, where the level of vaccinations is one of the highest in the world, the drop in cases has been clear and beautiful to watch. The statistics are impressive.”
Fain referred to Royal Caribbean’s inaugural season in Israel as a “big deal” as, according to him, it gives a “new opportunity to demonstrate in a tangible way how we can accomplish our goal of operating cruises in an appropriate and safe manner.”
“The question is no longer when will cruising resume; it already has resumed. Odyssey of the Seas will be our fifth ship operating around the world and is very much a part of our ramp up… Cruising has restarted and it will ramp up nicely,” Fain said in the video.
He said that he is under no illusions that there will be coronavirus cases cropping up on ships, “just as there will be cases on land.”
“However, I believe it’s also possible to establish strong protocols to deal with those cases when they arise. Our goal is to isolate individual cases, so they don’t become an outbreak, which ruins the vacation of everyone else. Our isolation and contact tracing protocols will help isolate the few cases that do occur. And we believe that these protocols will be an important element in our ability to ramp up cruises in a reassuring manner,” he said.
Fain emphasized that Royal Caribbean doesn’t know yet whether passengers will require to be vaccinated before joining its ships.
“We expect to vaccinate all our crew members against the disease, and they have indicated an overwhelming desire to be vaccinated. Whether we will require vaccines of all of our guests on all of our ships hasn’t been decided yet. But we are prepared to go where the science leads us,” he said.
Fain concluded that the end of the pandemic has not been reached yet, and complacency is the biggest threat today.
“There won’t be one big day when somebody blows a trumpet, and all of our ships embark simultaneously around the world. Instead, you will hear a growing cacophony of happy vacationers who can finally leave their homes,” he said.