In an unexpected move, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited announced a major change at the top of the corporate food chain: Chief Executive Officer Richard D. Fain will be stepping down, with current Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty rising up to take on the top job.
Farewell to a “Visionary Leader”
Ironically, it was only a few short weeks ago that Fain declared it was time for the industry to move on. Of course, in that video he was referring not to himself, but to the pandemic which so heavily impacted cruise lines over the past year and a half. Saying that there would, of course, continue to be a focus on health and safety protocols, he added, “Every conversation doesn’t need to be about the disease. We don’t need to start every chat with how much we miss going to the theater or to a restaurant. We’ll be able to live our lives more normally.”
In a statement, Bill Kimsey, lead director of the Royal Caribbean board, said, “Richard has been a visionary leaders, who has made innumerable and remarkable contributions to our company and our industry. Most recently, his stewardship during the COVID pandemic marks him as one of the great CEOs of his generation. The cruising community and all of us in the company owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Fain worked with the board to develop a succession plan in order to make this transition smooth. “There are no words to express my admiration and appreciation to the people of the Royal Caribbean Group,” said Fain, “who have been the real drivers of our success, and my profound appreciation for the support and guidance of the Board of Directors during good times and bad throughout this long period of sustained growth.”
He added that with cruising well on its way to a full return, the time was now right. “This is the appropriate time to step aside and have Jason take over,” he explained. “He is a highly versatile and strategic leader who has been integral to all aspects of the company’s accomplishments and performance.”
As for Liberty, he looked forward to the new challenge. “Our incredible people and culture, combined with our leading brands and the most innovative fleet in the world, are what make our organization so successful,” he declared. He went on to thank Fain for his “friendship, mentoring and guidance.”