Royal Caribbean International’s President and CEO Michael Bayley has revealed the numbers behind the cruise line’s resumption of service. According to him:
• 21 Royal Caribbean International ships have so far returned to service.
• 40,000 crew members are now back to work with Royal Caribbean International. All of them are fully vaccinated and in the process of receiving their booster shots.
• Between 50,000 and 60,000 guests sail with Royal Caribbean International each week. All guests over 12 years old are fully vaccinated. The 5- to 12-year-olds are increasingly getting vaccinated too.
• On a typical Royal Caribbean sailing, 95 to 98 percent of guests onboard are fully vaccinated. All guests have to test before sailing.
• Crew members get retested for coronavirus every several days. For regular crew, the retesting is done weekly; front-of-house staff is being tested every three days.
• The 20 to 30 percent average load factors that were present during Royal Caribbean’s start-up in July have been increasing by approximately 10 percent a month to become approximately 70 to 80 percent in December 2021. Royal Caribbean’s normal-year full-year load factor is approximately 110 percent (third and fourth berth occupancy, which is normally kids).
• Guest satisfaction is sky-high. “Lots of very happy guests enjoying wonderful cruise vacations in a safe (relative to any other options) and fun way,” Bayley said.
Additionally, Bayley noted, everyone onboard is wearing masks the vast majority of the time. Social distancing and sanitizing are in place, as well as other typical quarantine measures.
“(We) now have a ‘positivity’ rate way below the national rate and way below our big homeport states such as Florida, California, Texas and so on, and way below Broward and Miami Dade in Florida – the two counties that are home to our biggest home ports of Miami and Port Everglades,” he stated.
Bayley said that he observed that the coronavirus has recently turned into a much milder disease.
“With the new variant … We are seeing increases in positivity rates with some ships currently close to 1 percent (please note Florida positivity rate is 5 percent, which is pretty good relative to others). Recently the Symphony of the Seas was in the media spotlight with 48 positive cases (mainly guests), which was less than 1 percent of the onboard population (for example, 1-percent positivity rate is 60 people from an onboard population of 6,000),” he said. “The Odyssey of the Seas has 50 positive cases, mainly crew, with an onboard population of over 5,000, so approximately 1-percent positivity rate.”
Ninety-eight percent of the positive cases onboard are with the fully vaccinated, and over 99 percent are asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms, “often surprised they are positive at all,” Bayley said.
“It really does seem as though the virus (if vaccinated) has morphed to something more like a mild cold!” he noted.
Bayley hopes that this really is “the beginning of the end of this virus” and it’s morphing to something “fast-spread and less harmful, like the common cold” for the vaccinated.
“Here is hope, as we move into year 3 of this terrible period, that 2022 will be the end of this all, and life will return to a happy normal where we worry about stuff like kids schooling, car problems, bills and whatnot. More importantly, we look forward to happy times and glorious adventures across the oceans and seas of this beautiful planet,” he shared.