Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain made it clear this morning that when cruise ships resume sailing from U.S. ports, it will not be done lightly.
In fact, the resumption of services is being taken so seriously that they will be taking extreme precautions — even beyond the much-discussed protocols which will be in place.
They Will Likely Do “Trial Runs”
“We aren’t just suddenly coming back,” Fain said when asked what kind of timeline Royal Caribbean’s ships were looking at.
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In fact, some of the first cruises might just be ones that aren’t necessarily open to the general public. Why? Because once the new protocols are put in place, it’s likely that the cruise line will want to put the ship and its crew through a series of trial runs designed to make sure all of the kinks are worked out.
At the end of the day, Royal Caribbean will be making every move with one goal in mind: “We are taking all the steps to ensure that you are safer on a cruise ship than you are on Main Street,” insisted Fain.
The Elephant in the Room
With the presidential election looming — and the White House having taken several meetings with cruise lines — it was inevitable someone would ask how the outcome might impact the future of cruising.
“This will be based on science and not politics,” said Fain, adding, “I am hopeful that whoever is in power, science will lead us to the proper answer.”
The question arose — and legitimately so — out of the fact that recent reports indicated that the Centers for Disease Control hoped to extend the current no-sail order until early next year, only to see that notion blocked by the office of Vice President Mike Pence.
TIMELINE: 2020 Cruise Industry Shutdown
Ultimately, the no-sail order was extended through October 31, a date only days before the election and one which the entire industry is eyeing nervously.
Despite lingering questions about the state of cruising in America, Royal Caribbean Group hoped at least one of their ships would be welcoming guests before the end of the year: Currently, Quantum of the Seas is slated to resume sailings out of Singapore in early December.
Execs remained understandably bullish on that market, given the demand they saw for cruising once they received the necessary approvals from the government in Singapore.
Casting their gaze even further into the future, Royal’s CFO Jason Liberty said the company expected to see things slow down on the new build front, thanks largely to the current health crisis. As a result, new ships will likely see their deliveries pushed back by at least eight to 10 months.
As for the selling or scrapping of ships, Liberty said that they had been doing so with one or two ships a year. The basic strategy? As with any business, to look at their inventory and see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Ships which no longer fit into the overall strategic plan would be disposed of accordingly.
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