Royal Caribbean Group CEO says cruise ships ready to sail again

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chief executive officer (CEO) of Royal Caribbean Group, Richard Fain, says a number of test cruises carried out during the novel coronavirus pandemic and also prior to the start of vaccination programmes by countries have shown that ships are ready to start sailing again.

Fain, in a video message to travel advisors on March 22, said that the sector is now equipped with all the health protocols to safely resume operations.

He indicated that Royal Caribbean Group has carried more than 100,000 guests on over 150 cruises, with only 10 positive COVID-19 cases.

He noted that all of the positive cases “have been handled smoothly and without undue disruption of other guests and without undue burden on the communities and the governments involved”.

Fain said that the company’s experience with the 100,000 cruise passengers demonstrates that the process indeed works.

He noted that the experience was not unique to Royal Caribbean, adding that the industry, as a whole, has transported more than 350,000 passengers “with very few cases and minimal disruption. This is precisely what we thought would be the case”.

“It is important to note that most of these sailings took place before the vaccines were out,” he added.

“Everybody knows that the vaccines are a game changer, but they’re not the only protection we have,” he said, noting that contact tracing is able to be done effectively on the ships.

Fain said that the success of the test cruises “is enabling us to restart cruises in more and more places around the world”.

He said that the response to Royal Caribbean’s decision to begin sailing from the selected ports “has been exceptional” and indicates that there is an enormous amount of pent-up demand to cruise again.

“I expect that we will soon be announcing more such itineraries,” he noted.

He pointed out that Royal Caribbean expects to sail out of The Bahamas and St Maarten with vaccinated adult guests in June, and signalled that there might be other home-porting opportunities for consideration in the region.

This is good news for Jamaica, which is in talks with cruise line executives, including Royal Caribbean, for the island to be considered a major home-porting destination.

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