The boss of Royal Caribbean Cruises believes there are “positive signs on the horizon” three months after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the sector.
In the latest in a series of video messages to the trade, chairman Richard Fain discussed plans for a return to service.
He revealed the creation of a special ‘blue riband’ panel including “some of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the world” – leading experts in all the relevant fields.
Describing them as the “best of the best”, Fain said: “We think they will help us with a faster and more comprehensive analysis and we will be announcing more about this in the near future.”
He pointed to “significant progress” in battling the disease with noteworthy advances in treatment, a ramping up in testing and tracing for the virus and multiple clinical trails for a vaccine.
Optimism is growing, but one of the key questions is whether there will be a second wave and, if so, when and how serious could it be.
Fain said: “I can’t guess when or how this damned disease will go away or when we will restart our operations.”
However, he stressed that the company is working “to make sure we are doing it properly and quickly”.
Fain added: “I have been unequivocal that we will raise the bar on all our health and safety protocols.
“Our industry has long had some of the highest hygiene and health procedures on planet earth but in the Covid-19 world we need to do even better and we are determined that we will do so.
“We are working as diligently as we know how. Our operations will start small and will start carefully but we will start as son as we and the relevant authorities are satisfied all the appropriate health processes and procedures are in place.”
But the company is not able to predict about a return to service until it receives clear guidance from the authorities.
“When we do return to sailing some changes will be permanent, the others will likely be temporary, I’m simply not going to predict. But science and society will guide us to those answers.”
Fain also used the video to highlight the fight against racism, saying it was a time to listen to the experiences of friends and neighbours “and a time to act”.
He added: “We have started having converations about this topic with our employees at the Royal Caribbean group and some of those conversations are difficult.
“We hope you are having these same kind of conversations in your communities as well. We have to have them because we will get past this virus, but getting to a place of real change in the fight against racism will be an even longer and more difficult battle.”