Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain believes the cruise crisis caused by the pandemic has entered its final stages, comparing the current phase to the last few minutes of basketball.
In his latest video update to the trade, Fain said that Royal Caribbean Group’s experience in markets around the world where cruising has already resumed is “overwhelmingly positive” for a safe return to cruising.
As Fain had previously stated, of 100,000 guests to cruise with the group on 150 voyages, only 10 positive COVID cases have been recorded and contained, with no outbreaks or disruptions to other guests or local communities.
“We no longer have to theorise. We no longer have to make conjectures about what could possibly happen,” Fain said.
“Today we are able to see what actually happens and draw conclusions based on empirical evidence, rather than random hypotheses. That empirical evidence is overwhelmingly positive,” Fain remarked.
Commenting on the pace of activity “heating up” around a possible US cruise restart in July 2021, Fain juxtaposed the period to the final 8 minutes of a basketball game.
“So much of the action takes place during the last 8 minutes of the game and sometimes I wonder if it’d be better if I ignored the first 40 minutes of play and just arrived for the finish. I certainly wish I could ignore the first 13 months of this pandemic and that I only came in at the end,” he quipped.
“But just as the beginning of a basketball game is key to the outcome, the last year of this pandemic has been key to where we are today.
“It now feels like the last 8 minutes of the basketball game and the teams are really working all out. We are seeing people pulling in all directions but all of us have the exact same goal.
“All of us what to protect the health of our people, and all of us want to return to a normal life. And one part of that is getting the cruise industry back on its feet, both for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the industry for their livelihoods and for the millions who rely on us for a safe and enjoyable vacation.”
He said that a common goal is shared between cruise lines, the CDC, public health departments, travel advisors and cruise guests – all of which are seeking a return to a “healthy and enjoyable cruise vacation”.
Testing is key to catching the virus early and preventing the spread, he said.
“Contact tracing onboard ships can be done with the precision undreamed of on land. The combination of widespread testing and effective contact tracing are part of the reason that we can reduce the risk of an outbreak on a ship to levels below that on the land.”
Fain added that Royal Caribbean Group is eager to work with the CDC towards the goal of a cruise restart from US ports as early as July.
“More and more countries are moving forward with cruises. I think there are signs that we are approaching the end.”
Fain also reiterated that communication is crucial for all travel advisor partners.
“As we approach the start we need to get the word out.
“You can also use your influence to remind people of the importance of abiding by all the precautions today. While we are getting closer, we still haven’t contained this disease,” he said, reminding viewers to continue to wear masks and wash their hands.
Lead image: Richard Fain during his 9 April 2021 cruise update