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Royal Caribbean CEO calls out Hamas attacks on Israel as "horrific terrorist attacks"

26 Oct 2023
Elizabeth Wright

Before they talked any financials, the first comment from Royal Caribbean Group CEO was to condemn the terrorist attacks on Israel. 


Royal Caribbean Group held its quarterly earnings call on Thursday, and while Wall Street was curious about disruptions in the business from the attacks, Jason Liberty was quick to share his support to Israel and its people. 

"Before we begin today," he began, "I would like to first acknowledge the devastating events taking place in the Middle East." 

Liberty strongly proclaimed that the "horrific terrorist attacks" that have claimed "so many innocent lives" have "no place in civilized society." 

He also took a moment to recognize the efforts of the team onboard Rhapsody of the Seas, as they worked with the U.S. Department of State to aid in the evacuation of Americans from Israel. 

Rhapsody of the Seas sailing away in Haifa, Israel

As a result of the attacks, some Royal Caribbean Group sailings were disrupted.

"About 1.5% of our capacity in the fourth quarter had planned to visit Israel," said Jason Liberty, CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.

"Most of the impacted deployment was quickly adjusted, including a few sailings that were home porting in Haifa."

There were fewer APCDs, or "available passenger cruise days," due to the cancelation of the rest of the sailings from Israel this cruise season; Rhapsody was scheduled to sail from Haifa to the Greek islands through early November.

What is the effect on demand for 2024?

In 2024, the capacity for sailings to Israel accounts for less than 1.5%, with all of Europe accounting for 15% of their capacity. The vast majority of capacity will be on sailings in North America, whether that's to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Alaska, or Canada/New England. 

According to Liberty, the growth that Royal Caribbean has seen has been across all of their markets. 

While the situation in Israel "could potentially weigh on a consumer's's not something that [Royal Caribbean] is seeing at this point in time."  

"We're beginning to book for next year. Trends continue to be very strong. But it is, you know, it is early in the European season for us to start calling out that there's no impact from Israel," said Liberty. 

Typically, consumers want to stay within the ecosystem of Royal Caribbean, whether that is on a cruise throughout Europe or one that visits elsewhere in the world. If there is a decrease in demand for European cruises, a consumer will most likely just shift where they want to go, rather than completely abandon the idea of taking a cruise with Royal Caribbean. 

Overall, the demand for cruises has only increased

Ultimate Abyss slide

"The performance of our business continues to accelerate, driven by strong demand and excellent operational execution," remarked Naftali Holtz, Chief Financial Officer at Royal Caribbean Group.

In addition to demand for 2023 and 2024 sailings, Royal Caribbean is seeing folks make bookings into 2025 and 2026. 

"Our visibility in terms of how the consumer is looking at things going forward, at least on a vacation experience on our incredible brands," said Liberty, "is pretty good based off of where the consumer is standing today."

Ships docked at CocoCay

Outside of Europe, cruises to Perfect Day at CocoCay, the cruise line's private island in The Bahamas, have seen an elevated demand.

This is due in part to brand-new experiences, such as Hideaway Beach, opening to the public, as well as it being a port of call on every itinerary on both new Royal Caribbean ships launching in 2024: Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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