Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain gave an upbeat assessment of the chances of the cruise industry making a return to sailing sooner rather than later as he addressed travel advisors via video this week.
“I’m really more encouraged than I have been in a long time,” Fain said. I remember a while ago, paraphrasing Churchill saying that we were approaching the end of the beginning. Today, I’m beginning to feel more positive that we may be within sight of the end.”
While noting that there was still a way to go, Fain reviewed developments in vaccinations, treatments and testing that he said had the potential to be “huge.”
“Many positive developments are really beginning to bear fruit. We all know that we can’t eliminate the virus. Our goal is to control the spread to a manageable limit. There are three main tools at our disposal to accomplish that those are better treatment, better testing and ultimately a vaccine,
“The recent progress on each of these has been very encouraging as a start. The progress our doctors and hospitals have, have made has been nothing short of miraculous, new drugs, new treatments, and new knowledge had driven the fatality rate down dramatically.
Richard Fain: “A normal future relatively soon”
Moving on to the subject of testing, Fain said “The biggest news recently has been the development of these new so-called lateral flow tests They are called lateral flow tests because instead of using a vial or other container to run the sample through some machine, the sample is simply swiped laterally across a card about the size of a credit card. The card in 15 minutes gives a result in a manner analogous to the way a pregnancy test works. No sending to labs, no machines and relatively cheap.
“This is huge. It will allow broad-based testing and identification of positive cases, which is the holy grail of epidemiology. If we know who has the disease, we can isolate those few people instead of isolating all of society. And lastly, the news about a vaccine seems more positive every day. The two leading candidates is the vaccine Moderna and Pfizer are both far along in their final trials. People are clearly optimistic that these vaccines will be both safe and effective. It’s important to remember that a vaccine won’t be an instantaneous fix. However, when we look at all these things, all of these developments holistically, they combine to give us a very good hope for a normal future relatively soon.”
Richard Fain then spoke about Royal Caribbean’s healthy sail panel, which he said has been doing an amazing job with enormous passion and commitment.
Being on a cruise will be safer than being at home
“We organized the panel jointly with Norwegian cruise holdings, and we couldn’t be more pleased. As you know, at Royal Caribbean part of our success throughout our history has been the passion of our people. They really care about what they do and their passion continuously drives us to new heights. What has impressed me has been the similar passion that the panel members have brought to their task. They have been thorough. They have been focused and they have been engaged. They’ve devoted an amazing amount of time and effort to the project. And I’ve been blown away by their commitment,” Fain said.
The Royal Caribbean Group CEO explained that the panel was continuing to work on procedures and protocols that would make passengers “safer on a cruise ship than in your hometown while still feeling like you’re on a vacation.”
Fain said he was increasingly optimistic that the panel would succeed in that goal.
“We are in sight of the downward slope. Like everything about this disease, it’s a rocky slope, but we’re getting closer to the other side of this crisis every day. And I’m excited about that,” he concluded.