Cruises will be back later than expected, but thanks to the vaccines that are currently rolling out around the world, the cruise industry’s return to normal will be faster and more robust than expected, Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain said in his latest video message to travel advisors.
“It’s hard to think that the sun is coming when you are in the middle of the storm, but it is, although the first cruises will be later than we expected, the resumption of cruising will ramp up faster and be more robust,” Fain said. “The range of possible outcomes has narrowed and the resumption of normal life is now more clearly in view.
Fain said Royal Caribbean had hoped that the combination of tests, protective protocols and treatments would enable a restart in cruising as early as this month, but the scale of the spread and the reaction to the increased prevalence throughout the country has made that impossible.
Royal Caribbean CEO: vaccines are a ‘game changer for the cruise industry’
However, he said, the arrival of highly efficacious vaccines is a game-changer for the cruise industry.
“ I’ve repeatedly referred to the vaccines as the ultimate weapon against COVID-19. And now they’re here. Now we don’t have to rely solely on testing and health protocols to enable society to open up. Now, finally, we have vaccines to lead the battle against COVID.,” Fain said. “The vaccines will bring down the prevalence of COVID-19 in society to a much more manageable level. They will protect those who are most vulnerable, and they will make the consequences of getting the disease less severe. All of this is going to enable society to open back up. Now we all know it’s not going to be an immediate fix. It will take some time, but finally, we can see a more clearly defined timeline. The vaccines won’t instantly provide herd immunity, but they will reduce the prevalence of COVID.”
Demand for cruises will blossom
Royal Caribbean CEO Fain said he believed demand for cruises would grow quickly as soon as cases start to fall thanks to vaccines.
“Obviously, as cases fall, society, including our cruises, will begin to open up. And I believe that the demand will grow quickly,” Fain said. People are tired and frustrated and they want to get away from this Groundhog Day experience. The demand for new experiences will blossom. Previously, we expected cruising to resume based on creating a virtual bubble of safety on a ship…. Today we envision that the key, but not the exclusive factor will be the vaccines rather than purely the protocols.”
Dawn is approaching for cruise industry
Fain added that while he now expected vaccines to rescue the industry, the health protocols it developed remain relevant. He gave the example of a recent Royal Caribbean cruise from Singapore aboard Quantum of the Seas where a guest initially tested positive, cutting the cruise short, and later tested negative on a second test.
The protocols and collaboration with the Singapore authorities resulted in swift containment of any potential COVID threat, Fain said. The Singapore voyage demonstrated “how effective, good preparation and strong cooperation can be,” he added. .
Addressing the return of cruises, Royal Caribbean CEO Fain said: We’ve waited a long time for this. We never imagined that it would take this long, and we never imagined that we could survive with such a lengthy shutdown, but we have all persevered as hard as it’s been. We in the travel and tourism industry have gone nine months under the hardest possible conditions. We still have months ahead of us, but the dawn is approaching….I’m thrilled to think about how strong that resurgence will be and how quickly we will get back to the robust market we were enjoying just a few months ago.”