January 11, 2022
  • January 11, 2022

Royal Caribbean breaks industry silence on Omicron impact

By on December 30, 2021 0

Written by

Nick blenkey

Richard Fain, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group: “We intend to maintain our goal of providing the safest vacations on land or at sea and will constantly adjust our procedures to achieve this. ” [Screen grab from video interview]

Royal Caribbean Group has become the first major cruise ship operator to issue a statement on the impact of the Omicron coronavirus on its business and the number of cases reported on board its ships.

“Omicron has dramatically changed the COVID-19 landscape for everyone, and the Royal Caribbean Group is no exception,” the company says. “As has been widely reported, the Omicron variant is significantly more contagious than its predecessors and has already become the dominant form of COVID-19 in the United States and elsewhere. Fortunately, Omicron also appears to cause significantly less severe symptoms than previous variants, especially in people who have been vaccinated. Cruising remains one of the few places where you can vacation knowing that almost everyone you meet is fully immunized.

OVER A MILLION GUESTS

The company says recent experience on its ships is consistent with these observations. “The numbers show an increase in the number of people testing positive without a corresponding increase in the number of people falling ill. Since the restart of cruising in the United States in June 2021, the Royal Caribbean Group has transported 1.1 million customers with 1,745 people who have tested positive, a positivity rate of 0.02%. In addition, the vast majority of these cases had no symptoms or only mild symptoms, with only 41 people requiring hospitalization. None of the Omicron cases were serious or had to be taken to hospital. These figures are the result of the fact that almost everyone on board was vaccinated and tested negative before boarding. “

“Omicron has a big short-term impact on everyone, but many observers see this as a major step towards COVID-19 becoming endemic rather than epidemic,” said Richard Fain, chief executive officer. “We don’t like to see even a single case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry. Few companies are subject to such intense scrutiny, regulation and disclosure requirements by so many authorities, and we welcome this scrutiny because of our commitment to safety. We intend to maintain our goal of providing the safest vacations on land or at sea and will constantly adjust our procedures to achieve this, even in the face of Omicron’s amazing transmissibility.

Dr Calvin Johnson, Medical Director of Royal Caribbean Group, says: “The company navigates through the ever-changing information about the Omicron variant. Our number of cases has increased, but the severity level is significantly lighter. We will remain agile and in constant contact with the health authorities. For example, even before Omicron, we gave all of our crew members booster shots as they became eligible. “

IMPACT ON RESERVATIONS

The company claims that after a very good Cyber ​​weekend, it experienced a drop in bookings and an increase in cancellations for short-term crossings, but to a lesser extent than that of the Delta variant. The load factors for the crossings in the first half of 2022 remain below historical levels, as expected. However, departures for the second half of 2022 continue to be booked within historical ranges, at higher prices with and without Future Cruise Credits (FCC), with strong demand from the critical US market.

Royal Caribbean notes that the travel industry is experiencing significant disruption among air travel and other service providers due to the spread of Omicron.

“Such disruptions have a particularly big impact during the holiday season, as needs increase and labor supply is affected by the current surge in cases. ” it says. “Similar issues are impacting the company’s onboard service capabilities. In addition, the company is experiencing service disruptions in some destinations and to date has canceled or significantly modified 16 out of 331 destination calls. The company expects these interruptions to continue in the short term, then decrease as the world adapts to current trends. ‘

“We are constantly learning and adapting as Omicron appears to be ushering in a new phase in the fight against COVID-19,” Fain concluded. “We expect these factors to have a negative impact in the short term, but we are optimistic that they will lead us to a more widespread but less severe health environment. Together, this should allow us to produce a strong transition year in 2022 and a very strong 2023. ”


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