Royal Caribbean plans to announce new health and safety protocols for cruising in the COVID-19 era in the coming weeks, the company’s CEO Richard Fain said in a video message to travel advisors.
“We will soon be announcing a blue-ribbon panel working to ensure our health safety protocols are unparalleled,” Fain said, in a video filmed outdoors in the garden of his home. “We will proceed cautiously and we will learn from our experiences. And unquestionably, we will invest in all these areas more than most of our guests will ever fully see or know.”
While not giving any hint at what the new measures would be, Fain said that they would “raise the bar even higher on health, safety, sanitation and medical care.”
The Royal Caribbean CEO added that when guests eventually return to cruising, they will come back to something that is “better and safer.”
No new normal, just con, just constant changestant change
While saying that Royal Caribbean was now “turning the page to the next chapter of this journey” he rejected the idea of a “new normal” for cruising, calling it “horse pucky”
“Some people, many people are beginning to talk about the next chapter as the new normal. That’s a term that I’ve begun to hate.”
The term new normal, he said, reflected the expectation that “what had been abnormal would now be normal, and what had been normal would no longer be acceptable.”
The problem with that he continued is that “it implies the existence of a semi-permanent normal, which is about to be transformed into a new semi-permanent normal.”
A new normal for selling cruises
Expanding on his philosophy, he said that in this modern technological era in which we live “there is no semi-permanent anything, “the only constant is change.”
Quoting the 19th Century French journalist, critic and novelist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr, he said “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” [the more things change, the more they stay the same] to back up his point that “the only normal is change.”
Addressing the effect of the coronavirus pandemic specifically on cruising, he said: We don’t know how the future is going to unfold. We don’t know how long it will take to get beyond this epidemic, and the traumatic changes that we are enduring to deal with it. We do know that things will be different.”
“Most importantly, there won’t be a new normal for selling cruises, or taking cruises or operating cruises. Change is coming to cruising. Some suggest the cruising in the future will be unrecognizable from what we are used to. That we will go from one constant, unchanging cruise experience before, to a radically different, totally changed cruise experience after. Horse pucky.”
Instead, Fain said, what would happen would be a state of constant change, continuously adapting to circumstances.
Fain gave the analogy of Royal Caribbean’s guest apps, which he said were in a state of permanent beta – a phrase made popular in LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman’s book The Start-up of You – where things were constantly being “tweaked, adjusted and improved.”
Expanding on the company’s philosophy, Fain continued: “When we design our ships, we talk about a design formula of one-third tradition, one-third evolution, and one-third revolution,” he said. “That formula has worked pretty well for us and it works in the post-COVID world too. It doesn’t stick us in the past, but it isn’t a new normal.”
Return to cruising, he said would just be “our usual, constantly changing, best we know how to be.”
Last week, Norwegian Cruise Line released details of its protocols for cruising in the era of COVID-19.
Among the new steps announced by Norwegian are placing a public health officer on all of its ships and an upgrading of onboard medical centers with COVID-19 testing kits and medications
The public health officer will be responsible for the oversight of all sanitation and outbreak prevention initiatives. Additionally, the officer will monitor the day-to-day cleanliness of all public areas and accommodation, maintaining compliance with the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program.
Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have announced plans for a phased return to cruising beginning August 1, if the CDC lists its no-sail order by then. The no-sail order is currently in place until July 24.