Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain said that the company has not decided whether or not to require passengers on its three cruise brands to be vaccinated.
"The answer is, we don't know yet," Fain said in a video message to travel advisors. "Clearly, widespread vaccinations are the fastest and the best way to get this disease under control. We expect to vaccinate all our crew members against the disease, and they've indicated an overwhelming desire to be vaccinated. Whether we require vaccines of all of our guest on all of ours ships hasn't been decided yet. But we are prepared to go where the science leads us."
His remarks came shortly after Royal Caribbean International said it would launch the Odyssey of the Seas, its newest ship, from Israel in May on what the line is calling the first "fully vaccinated sailings," on which both crew and guests over the age of 16 will have to be vaccinated for Covid-19.
Israel currently leads the world in vaccinations per capita, with more than half its population having received a Covid-19 inoculation. The U.S., by comparison, has vaccinated 15% of its population, according to the University of Oxford's Our World in Data project.
Royal Caribbean Group said earlier this month that all three of its brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises, will require crew members to receive the Covid-19 vaccine prior to returning to work on their ships.
Fain warned in the video that the biggest threat to a return to normal is complacency. "We do have to remain patient," he said, adding that the end "is still a ways off."
He also said that travel advisors should be ready for an "onslaught" of bookings when people can cruise again.
"Despite all the blows our industry has taken, it is clear that there will be a huge demand when we open our doors," he said. "Finally, it's time to start getting excited that the end is so close. It's time to make sure we have our financial house in order and to prepare for the onslaught of bookings ahead. Because it will be an onslaught of bookings as all that pent-up demand comes our way."