Despite all the talk about cruise lines primarily using their private destinations when they first resume service, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said that Royal's ships will make every effort to return to the rest of the Caribbean as soon as possible.
"There's an economic impact on the Caribbean nations that we've partnered with for so many years, so we want to get back to all of those places," he said during Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld, held virtually this week.
Fain said that in those destinations the lines will start out by allowing what he calls "curated experiences," or controlled shore excursions organized by the cruise line that maintain the safety bubble of the ship. "We think by working with local governments and businesses we can make curated experiences throughout the Caribbean."
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Royal ships will still launch its first sailings to its private destinations, Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas and Labadee, Haiti, with Fain calling it Royal's "good fortune" to have invested so much in those private destinations before the pandemic. "But then we'll begin to expand it," he said.
Fain said that one of the learnings from the early resumption of cruising in Europe on brands jointly owned by Royal, Hapag-Lloyd and Aida, is that what passengers most missed was being able to visit more ports.
"Probably the biggest issue was the lack of destinations," he said. "People really enjoyed having a chance to get out and do something different. But in the long run, it's very clear the destinations are very important, and that's why we are spending so much time working with the communities we serve to make sure that as we open up, we're able to do more and more with the destinations."
Fain said supporting those port of call is also important to cruisers.
"There is a desire to help these countries and these islands where tourism is so important to their economy," Fain said. "We really have to find ways to be helpful to the communities we serve, as well."