The CEO of Royal Caribbean International says the recent cases of coronavirus on two cruise ships (belonging to other cruise companies) amounts to a “learning experience” for his much larger company.
Michael Bayley said during a Wednesday webinar that Royal Caribbean is studying “how and what happened” when a ship belonging to Hurtigruten –which has sailings along Norway’s coast — and the Paul Gauguin — which offers Tahiti sailings — found the virus aboard.
The cases generated international attention and recalled cases earlier this year of cruise ships struggling with outbreaks.
Bayley said Royal Caribbean has been working steadily on safety issues for an upcoming restart.
“The last thing we want to do is return to service and get it wrong,” Bayley said, adding that this has been a “really crazy time” for a cruise industry that’s had to contend with repeated delays in planned returns to operation because of the evolving nature of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bayley said Royal Caribbean is now “reviewing in incredible detail” the safety protocols it will be implementing because of the pandemic. There are many elements to the healthy return to service.”
He said technology will play an important role in helping keep passengers and crew members alike safe.
But the visited destinations themselves will also play a role in passenger safety, he continued.
Royal Caribbean is now communicating with other cruise companies through CLIA on safety measures.
The cruise company now has smallish numbers of employees on its idled ships and is working on getting the additional crew members to the vessels in a manner that will leave it confident that those employees will be coronavirus-free when the restart nears.
Coronavirus has prompted the cancellation of this year’s RCI President’s Cruise but Bayley said people will be “able to double down on the fun in 2021.”
This has been a tough year for the cruise industry but Bayley predicted that there’s “going to be a huge resurgence of demand…I think they’re (prospective cruise passengers) kind of saying and thinking, ‘I’m going to have a great summer next year.'”
Meanwhile, Bayley said a suggestion that Royal Caribbean host fam trips when the company restarts operation was a “great idea.”