Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio: ‘Let Us Cruise’

“Just let us cruise, CDC,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), on the company’s Thursday earnings call, expressing his frustration with what he called ridiculous regulations and overreach by the agency.

“But is it not just the CDC (holding the industry back),” Del Rio added. “To be fair, the rest of the world has to open up as well – Europe, Asia and South America.

“How quickly we can return to normal will depend on travel restrictions being lifted and borders being opened.

“There are 50 million people who have not been able to cruise for the last year and half and now want to cruise. There is pent up demand setting us up for a beautiful scenario to improve pricing.”

Forward bookings and pricing are up compared to 2019 which was a record year, Del Rio said. 

Part of Del Rio’s frustration comes from Norwegian submitting an “ironclad proposal” to the CDC on April 5 and has not yet received an answer, which also puts the mid-July return to service in jeopardy.

Among the impractical and onerous requirements the CDC has released is that passengers must wear face masks onboard all the time, only lifting the mask to take a bite of food or a sip of a drink, according to Del Rio. He said he was hoping these requirements would not be applicable to fully vaccinated ships.

NCLH will require 100 percent vaccinations of passengers and crew wherever the ships are sailing and does not plan to participate in the simulated sailing program of the CDC, Del Rio noted.

He said he was outraged that the cruise industry is being treated differently than airlines, casinos, etc. and said that cruise ships will be the safest place on earth.

“We will have 100 percent vaccinated passengers and crew in addition to our SailSAFE program,” he said.

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