Richard Fain: Sailings are a proof of concept

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Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain in a video message to travel advisors.
Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain in a video message to travel advisors.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said that out of the more than 100,000 guests on over 150 cruises that the company has carried during the pandemic, only 10 people tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. 

"And all of them have been handled smoothly and without undue disruption of other guests' cruises. And without undue burden on the communities and the governments involved," Fain said on his latest video message to travel advisors. 

Royal's two jointly owned lines, Hapag-Lloyd and Tui Cruises, launched cruises in Europe and the Canary Islands last summer, and its Royal Caribbean International has been operating cruises out of Singapore since December.  

Fain called this experience "a very powerful proof of concept. In essence, we've just had 100,000 test cruises and demonstrated that the process works. Yippee!"

He also noted that Royal's experience "isn't unique." 

"The industry as a whole has carried more than 350,000 passengers," he said, "with very few cases and minimal disruption. This is precisely what we thought would be the case."

Important to note is that most of these sailings took place before the vaccines were out. 

"Everybody knows that the vaccines are a game changer but they're not the only protection we have, as our experience proves," Fain said, adding that testing has gotten so good and contact-tracing capabilities on ships is "better than anything available on land." 

"The result of all this is a dramatic change in the landscape," he said. "We're now able to achieve our objective of being safer than your home community, that successful experience is enabling us to restart cruises in more and more places around the world."

Fain said that the response to Royal's decision to open up sailings from Israel to Greece and to Cyprus in May, and on Celebrity and Royal to ports in the Caribbean in June, "has been exceptional" and reinforces the view that there's an enormous amount of pent-up demand to cruise again. 

"I expect that we will soon be announcing more such itineraries," he said. 

Fain said he's not sure whether or not vaccines will be required on all future cruises, as they are for adults on the cruises from Israel and the Caribbean. 

"And there are likely to be more, but each circumstance is different," he said. "And I would note that the cruises we are currently operating are operating without requiring vaccines."

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