“There is a huge amount of uncertainty on how this (return to service) will play out,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, speaking on the company’s second quarter earnings call.
“The biggest uncertainty is around COVID itself. The prevalence of COVID will be the determining factor on our return to service.”
According to Bayley, research has also shown that when anxiety is high because of the virus, bookings drop. “We see direct correlations between what is going on in the state where they (passengers) live.”
Otherwise, he noted that younger customers are more likely to book and that demand from the brand’s loyalty customers (repeat passengers) is strong.
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, noted that the return will be an ongoing process and compared it more to a dimmer than an on-off light switch and that there will be changes.
Meanwhile the company is submitting its protocols to its panel of health experts, and Bayley said he was hopeful the panel will sign off on a final version by the end of August. That version will in turn be submitted to the CDC.
Bayley also said Royal Caribbean is carrying on dialogues with destinations in the Caribbean and Central America on how best to resume operations.
He added that he felt there is pent-up demand and optimistic for how it will play out. Lots of people have written off this summer (in terms of vacation) and will want a big vacation next summer, he said.
Jason Liberty, CFO and executive vice president, said his focus was getting to the other side of “this crater” and bring the company back to pre-COVID margins and financial health.