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Royal Caribbean CEO talks fuel surcharge, Icon reveal, smoking in the casino & more

In:
29 Jun 2022

Will Royal Caribbean ever ban smoking? When will we get more Icon of the Seas details? Can we expect a fuel surcharge?

Michael Bayley speaking at President's Cruise

These were some of the questions Royal Caribbean cruise fans asked President and CEO Michael Bayley during a Q&A session this week.

Royal Caribbean hosts a President's Cruise each year, and there's always an opportunity for the top executive from Royal Caribbean International to take questions from its loyal cruisers.

There's usually an assortment of questions, gripes, suggestions, and compliments included each time, and a few of the questions were intriguing to a wide audience.

In addition to talking about when pre-cruise testing and vaccine requirements might come to an end, Mr. Bayley touched on a few other hot button topics.

President's Cruise flag

Here's what Mr. Bayley had to say when asked some of the top questions.

Will Royal Caribbean ever ban smoking in the casinos?

Casino on Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean temporarily banned smoking in its casinos earlier this year during the Omicron variant in order to implement a stricter face mask rule, but that rule was rolled back a few months later.

When asked about revising the smoking policy indoors, Mr. Bayley admitted, "smoking in the casinos is a bit of a conundrum."

"The dilemma is that there are many people who do want to smoke in the casino. I know that's not a popular response, but it's it's the truth."

"I'm not judging anyone or anything, but there's a large group of people who do want to smoke in the casino."

Woman betting casino

He explained, "Every, I would say every couple of years, we do test this and we take one or two or three ships we ban smoking in the casino. And the result is less people go in the casino and that that's the reality of it."

While a full smoking ban in the casino doesn't seem likely, Mr. Bayley said they are looking at ways to create more non-smoking areas, "we're looking at trying to create more smoke free spaces in the casino, which I think will be helpful."

Will Royal Caribbean add fuel surcharges?

Harmony of the Seas aerial

While the price of oil is high, Royal Caribbean still has no plans to add a fuel surcharge to cruise guests.

"The fuel fuel bill for Royal Caribbean is, as you can imagine, it's massive and it's gone up by I don't know what the percentages, but it's a huge chunk. It's hundreds of millions of dollars."

"But at the moment, we're not planning on putting a fuel surcharge on."

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

The cost of West Texas Intermediate oil, a common benchmark, spiked above $120 a barrel at times this year, but has since dropped back to around $110 a barrel. That’s up from around $76 a barrel at the start of the year.

In 2008, the price of West Texas Intermediate peaked at around $146 a barrel. That’s around $192 in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation.

Mr. Bayley did admit, the issue is still up in the air, "We try to understand what the implications are of a fuel surcharge."

"I'd say we don't know. We've all seen the uncertainty of all of these dynamics. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow or next week or the week after."

He mentioned the fact Royal Caribbean hedges its fuel quite a bit every year, with 50% of its fuel hedged for this year and a smaller percentage for next year.

When will Royal Caribbean share more information about Icon of the Seas

It seems like everyone can't believe Royal Caribbean hasn't shared more details yet about its next new cruise ship, but everything is still under wraps for a little while longer.

Icon of the Seas is set to debut in late 2023, and Mr. Bayley was asked when they will share more information about the ship, "We are launching Icon of the Seas starting this September."

"By launching, I mean, we are we are starting to communicate. We have a whole planning program of communication, social media, marketing, TV, radio, you name it."

He echoed previous comments about how impressive this new class of ship will be, "It is the next generation of Royal Caribbean ship and we're super proud of the work we've been working on for five years."

"It follows a normal formula of tradition, evolution, revolution."

"So there's much of Icon of the Seas is everything we all love about Royal Caribbean, much of Icon of the Seas is the next generation of thinking for many of the things that we really love about Royal Caribbean."

"And there's a chunk of stuff that we've never done before which is really going to be super cool."

The Pearl

Icon of the Seas sphere installation

Michael Bayley was pretty good at keeping all the Icon of the Seas details under wraps, until he accidently let slip the name of that mystery sphere we've seen photos of for months.

A guest wanted to know what the "big white ball" was, and Mr. Bayley immediately responded, "the Pearl?"

When someone pointed out he said it, he responded, "I know, but I did it by accident.

Sphere installation

Royal Caribbean filed for a trademark for the phrase, "The Pearl" earlier this month.

Will double points promotion return?

One guest wanted to know if Royal Caribbean would ever bring back its double points promotion, which allows guests to get double the usual points per night of the cruise in the Crown and Anchor Society customer loyalty program.

"I'm so tempted to say yes. But I got to tell you our Pinnacle members are not such advocates for the idea."

He then joked, "I know it's very popular and you've got to cling onto it as a memory."

"Unreasonable and unfair" treatment during pandemic

Photo by Liam Davison

Twice during the session, Mr. Bayley was asked about what it was like during the cruise industry shutdown as a result of Covid.

"I've got to be honest with media, particularly in the beginning of the pandemic... we felt like we couldn't get a break."

"It's like we were responsible for COVID."

"Relentlessly reporting was always, always negative about about the industry and Royal Caribbean. I don't think we ever saw a positive article."

"Even on the crewing situation, where we were working night and day to get our crew home, we just received criticism for the current situation."

He went on to say, "At the beginning of the pandemic...the cruise industry was generally regarded as the bad actor, which I have to tell you was totally unreasonable and unfair."

Royal Caribbean updates: CEO talks CDC warning, app update & more

In:
02 Apr 2022

In-between all the cruise news of this week, there's other tidbits of changes and news to share beyond the major headlines.

Aquatheater on Allure of the Seas

There's plenty of other changes and developments you should be aware of from this past week, so here's a look at a few of them that you should know about.

If you ever have a news tip, feel free to email it to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future update!

Michael Bayley comments on CDC removing travel warning

The big cruise news this week was when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took down its warning against going on a cruise ship due to Covid-19.

In a nutshell, the CDC eliminated its travel warning of contracting Covid-19 on a cruise ship. The warning had been in place for two years.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley shared his thoughts on the change during a panel at the Cruise360 conference this week.

Bayley at Cruise360

Cruise360 is an annual travel agent conference, and Mr. Bayley was speaking on a panel when the topic came up.

As you might imagine, Mr. Bayley was quite happy with the warning being removed, "This is great news. The fact that they removed the warning is a very positive step for our industry."

"We’ve been on a very long journey with the CDC."

"Now when a consumer wants to find out about COVID-19 on cruise ships, they can go to the CDC’s websites and get the facts without being scared away by a warning."

Every ship is now in the app

Royal Caribbean added Radiance of the Seas to Royal Caribbean's app, which means now every ship in the fleet has app support.

Ever since Royal Caribbean's app debuted, the company has systematically been adding app support to each ship.  Since 2021, more ships have gotten app support correlating to restart plans.

Getting emuster and check-in support necessitated having the app ready for when a ship would start sailing again.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean app walkthrough and tips

ArriveCAN ready for cruise ship passengers

Radiance of the Seas in Vancouver

When Royal Caribbean announced its Alaska cruise health protocols, it noted passengers will need to use the ArriveCAN app for all sailings from Seattle, Seward and Vancouver.

All travelers to Canada, or their legal guardians, must download the ArriveCAN app or complete the mandatory travel information via the ArriveCAN website prior to your entry into Canada.

In the 2.27.2 update to ArriveCAN, the app now supports "marine travelers".

According to the app update, cruisers can enter their date and time of embarkation from their country of origin no earlier than 72 hours prior to departure.  In addition, cruisers can make ArriveCAN submissions 30 days prior to arrival.

The ArriveCAN app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Royal Caribbean CEO gives update on Omicron Covid-19 cases on cruise ships

In:
23 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean International's top executive took to Facebook on Thursday to address the recent news of Covid cases on his cruise ships.

Symphony of the Seas concludes second set of sea trials | Royal Caribbean Blog

In the wake of two Royal Caribbean cruise ships making headline news for having around 50 positive Covid cases on each ship, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO posted on his Facebook page a new update about where things stand, and why cruise ships are out performing everywhere else in terms of the positivity rate.

Mr. Bayley is no stranger to posting on social media to talk about the progress being made by Royal Caribbean.

Here is a breakdown of what Mr. Bayley said from his Facebook post.

Positivity rate on cruise ships

Symphony of the Seas 2021 cruise recap | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley touted the fact cruise ships are doing better than the average across the United States for Covid-19 positive cases.

"We now have a “positivity” rate way below the national rate and way below our big home port states such as Florida, California, Texas etc, and way below Broward and Miami Dade in Florida the two counties that are home to of our biggest home ports of Miami and Port Everglades."

Mr. Bayley then shared his opinion on the omicron variant, noting that he is not a public health official.

Symphony of the Seas December construction photo update | Royal Caribbean Blog

"We are seeing increases in positivity rates with some ships currently close to 1 percent (please note Florida positivity rate is 5 percent, which is pretty good relative to others).

"Recently Symphony of the Seas was in the media spotlight with 48 positive cases (mainly guests) which was less than 1 percent of the onboard population.

"Also Odyssey of the Seas has 50 positive cases mainly crew with a onboard population of over 5,000 plus, so approx 1 percent positivity rate."

Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas begins inaugural sailing | Royal Caribbean Blog

He then went on to talk about the reality of the cases onboard the ships as being quite mild.

"98 percent plus of positive cases are with the fully vaccinated and 99 per cent plus are asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms often surprised they are positive at all.    

"It really does seem as though the virus (if vaccinated) has morphed to something more like a mild cold !   (Second notice this is not in anyway a statement based on science but simply what we are seeing and hearing from our operations in this environment). "

He went on to say that he hopes Omicron variant is the start of a milder form of Covid-19, "my hope is this really is the beginning of the end of this virus and what we are seeing is its morphing to fast spread and less harmful like the common cold !  (If vaccinated)."

Good news

Royal Caribbean is first cruise line to restart cruises from Tampa | Royal Caribbean Blog

He started off by highlighting the tremendous progress Royal Caribbean has had with getting the restart process moving, "We now have 21 ships back in operation, 40,000 crew back to work all fully vaccinated and all now receiving their booster shots and over 50,000 to 60,000 guests a week sailing with us all fully vaccinated (over 12) and increasingly the 5 to 12 year olds are getting vaccinated."

Mr. Bayley also shared how well-received cruises have been by the public.

"Guest satisfaction is sky high ! Lots of very happy guests enjoying wonderful cruise vacations in a safe (relative to any other options) and fun way."

"The crew (God bless them all) have been through all kinds of obstacles and difficulties and are now back doing what they love to do do and are now able to care for and support their families back home."

Vaccinations on cruise ships

Celebrity Cruises will not ask for proof of vaccine in Florida, but there will be different rules for those passengers | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley said on a typical sailing, there are between 95% - 98% fully vaccinated guests onboard, with everyone getting a pre-cruise test for Covid-19.

In addition, crew members are tested every week, with front of house staff (crew members who deal directly with passengers) now being tested every three days, and everyone wearing masks the vast majority of the time, along with social distancing, sanitizing, etc.

Ship capacity

5 things to love about Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean has slowly been increasing ship capacity since the summer, and Royal Caribbean is now approaching 70 to 80% in December 2021.

"We have also been managing capacity from our start up in July with 20 to 30 per cent average load factors increasing approx 10 per cent a month to approx 70 to 80 per cent in December."

"Our normal year full year load factor is approx 110 per cent. (3rd and 4th berth occupancy which is normally kids)."

Read Bayley's entire message

8 things you might not know about Royal Caribbean’s CEO

In:
24 Nov 2021

A successful business leader heading up Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley manages a cruise line with over 78,000 employees, and a total of 24 ships visiting 270 locations. No doubt a considerable task.  

Bayley has seen a lot during his 40-year career with the company and he clearly loves his job. He shares many stories on social media profiling employees, featuring great passenger stories, engaging with cruisers, and breaking the latest news.

Digging a little deeper, we found some unexpected things you might not know about the man at the helm of Royal Caribbean.  

He comes from Wales

Bayley is a native of Cardiff, Wales. A small country bordering England, it has a population of just over three million people. It is characterized by its ancient roots, rugged coastlines, and strong Celtic culture. A sharp contrast to his current home in sunny Miami, Florida.

Upon finishing school, Bayley ventured to England for university, graduating from the University of Bournemouth with a degree in business.

After a friend told him about a cruise line hiring in the United States, he took his first ever flight and trip to the United States for the job.  His career in the cruise industry has taken him all over the world including some of his favorite places such as Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Rome, New York City, and Morocco. Quite a journey

He started as an Assistant Purser


Photo by Michael Bayley

Bayley’s first position at Royal Caribbean was assistant purser on the Nordic Prince.

As he described it, he was at the front desk dealing with lots of people.  He talks fondly of that time on the ship, interacting with crew and passengers. He especially loved the sirloin steak and french fries served for dinner on Saturday nights, exclaiming that it was one of his all time favorite cruise meals.

Setting sail in 1971, The Nordic Prince was the second ship built for Royal Caribbean, with a passenger capacity of 741, just over 550 feet in length, and sailed mostly in the Caribbean.

For those fans of the 80s classic cruise show “The Love Boat” they will remember that the loveable character Gopher was also a purser. His career did not seem to keep pace with that of Bayley’s though.

He’s a foodie

One of the great things about traveling on a Royal Caribbean ship, especially with the Oasis class, is the abundance of food options. All a good thing, as it is evident that Bayley is a foodie.

When recently asked about his favorite restaurants in the world, he listed a diverse selection of places. His top three include The Tree restaurant in Sao Paulo (which is actually covered by a century old tree), he then followed up with a giant leap across the world to the Cantonese restaurant in the Intercontinental in Hong Kong, and finished with My Mommy’s Kitchen In Buenos Aires, Argentina. He gets around.

He can also be seen trying his hand as a Teppanyaki chef, or frequently posting polls about great good options to choose from at the Portside BBQ or lamb and seafood options at Jamie’s Italian.

His son claims his enchiladas are the best things he cooks.

Dad jokes are his thing

Bayley loves to tell Dad jokes, often posting videos of his informal comedy routines. Captain Shawn seems to be a popular co-star in his video posts, and as a test audience, he doesn’t always seem to find the jokes that humorous.

His dog Thunder appears equally ambivalent about this joke telling skills seemingly preferring to nap.

A sampling of some of the highlights:

How does the penguin build his house? … he igloos it together.

Why did the coach go to the bank? … to get his quarter back.

He used to be President of CEO of Celebrity Cruises

Prior to his current position, Bayley was the head of Celebrity Cruises, moving there after being promoted from his position of Executive Vice President for International Operations at Royal Caribbean.

At Celebrity he was tasked with improving profitability with a focus on the premium segment. In his short time at Celebrity, he produced strong results and quickly switched back to Royal Caribbean to his current role of President and CEO.

Celebrity is a sister company to Royal Caribbean International, both owned by the broader parent company of Royal Caribbean Group. Celebrity targets a different segment, with a smaller fleet, and is known for its sophisticated ambiance, including food and service.

He once drove a lifeboat into a ship

Empress of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

In another memorable video titled “A special gift from Captain Shawn”. Bayley is presented with the original ship log from the Empress of the Seas. It was found while cleaning things up prior to the ship’s sale in 2020.

When handed the log, Bayley began to reminisce about his days aboard the ship. One particular event that stands out was a fun night out in Freeport after a long 10 day cruise. Unexpectedly they had to do a drill, and while acting as a Lifeboat Commander he drove the lifeboat right into the ship.  

As he recalls, the captain was none too pleased, surely an experience Bayley will never forget.

Favorite job

Bayley has had a number of jobs during his 40 years with the Royal Caribbean Group including work as a printer, payroll department, and hotel manager to more senior positions.  Beyond his current position, he says that the role of Chief Purser on the Sovereign of the Seas was one he truly loved. The days of fun, travel, and camaraderie made it so special.

The Sovereign of the Seas started sailing in 1988 from the port of Miami. With a passenger capacity of 2278, it was dubbed the world’s first mega-ship, although is now considered small in comparison to more modern ships.

Under Bayley's leadership, Royal Caribbean will launch the Wonder of the Seas with a capacity nearing 7000 in early 2022.

He has his own TikTok channel

Mr. Bayley is not one to shy away from almost anything, including TikTok.

His username is captaincruiseguy, and it's where he shares all kinds of videos from onboard the ships, at his home, and from many other places in his travels.

CEO's are not often known for sharing their fun side, but Mr. Baley does not hold back to share his personal side with fellow cruise fans.

Royal Caribbean CEO talks double points return, capacity numbers, masks, and more

In:
15 Nov 2021

While onboard Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley answered questions about a variety of topics related to cruising right now.

Mr. Bayley and Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, hosted a question and answer session with travel agents that covered many aspects of what Royal Caribbean is doing right now.

Questions touched on health protocols, the app, Perfect Day at Cococay, and more.

Here are some of the more interesting responses to the hot topics the executives touch upon.

Will antibody tests be accepted?

CDC updates guidance to Royal Caribbean on banning mixed vaccines | Royal Caribbean Blog

One question raised was if or when someone with antibodies from a previous Covid-19 infection would be acceptable to sail in lieu of a vaccine.

Mr. Bayley said he gets this question a lot, "I think I think we're going to get there. We're not there at the moment."

Besides discussions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) about the issue, Mr. Bayley said another issue are the various countries who each have their own requirements, "Typically the standards are in each of the countries, often that defines the whole itinerary."

Miami-Dade Mayor asks CDC to allow cruise ships to restart | Royal Caribbean Blog

"I can't tell you how many meetings we've had with health authorities literally around the world and particularly obviously with the CDC."

"I do believe we'll get to a good place with antibodies, but it's probably a few more months away."

Chat feature in the app

Royal Caribbean's chat feature is now available on every cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Another question was about the chat feature in the Royal Caribbean app, and why it costs extra instead of being free.

Mr. Bayley admitted they wrestled with charging or not for the chat feature, "I remember that we had a lot of arguments internally within the company about a dollar ninety nine."

"I'm tempted to say we'll drop it, but nobody seems to be reacting against it. So we'll we'll drop it. Yeah. I think that will be good."

Will the Double Point promo come back?

Royal Caribbean extends double point offer through December 2022 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Ever since the double points in Crown and Anchor Society promo ended earlier this fall, many cruise fans wanted to know if it will ever come back.

Mr. Bayley said he thinks the promo will come back, but they will use it "strategically."

"You'll see more of that coming, but it's not going to be a blanket open book."

Latest on Hideaway Beach

Royal Caribbean will expand Perfect Day at CocoCay with Hideaway Beach | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley took some time to talk about the new port projects Royal Caribbean has lined up, including the next expansion for Perfect Day at CocoCay.

A new adults-only beach area is coming to CocoCay, that will open in late 2022.

"We are opening Hideaway Beach in, I'm hoping it's going to be at some point in '22."

"Hideaway Beach is going to be a adult only zone. It's going to have a beautiful natural lagoon area and a phenomenal pool and of course, stunning new cabanas and overwater cabanas and great dining and entertainment.

Why did Royal Caribbean decide to do adults-only? Evidently there was a lot of demand, "the feedback we've got is that people love Perfect Day, but there's a segment of our customers who want to have more quiet and not have kids all over the place."

Royal Beach Club & other projects

Royal Caribbean could finish Nassau Beach Club by May 2023 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley also gave an update on the new Royal Beach Club in Nassau, among other port projects.

"We're very close to finalizing the Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas, that is going to be on Paradise Island."

"Royal Beach Club is going to be an absolutely stunning beach club vibe, looking out to the beautiful ocean with a stunning beach. We're building a really world class, incredible kind of infinity pool."

Report: Royal Caribbean targeting January 2023 opening of Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas | Royal Caribbean Blog

"It's going to be very much infused in the Bahamian culture with lots of Junkanoo and great music."

Mr. Bayley wasn't sure exactly when it might open, saying it will probably open in 2023.

Moving on, he touched on other projects.

Royal Caribbean announces new Perfect Day private island experience in Vanuatu | Royal Caribbean Blog

"We had other projects that we were working on before the pandemic. We were envisioning a new concept for Labadee. We were working on the project plan for Vanuatu off the coast of Australia."

"The Perfect Day in Vanuatu is absolutely stunning. I mean, it is game changing."

"New classes of ships that are coming and our vision for destinations, we think that we're going to really move forward and create a whole new blue open space for Royal Caribbean as a vacation company and very excited about that."

Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean begins construction on its next generation cruise ship Icon of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley also talked briefly about Icon of the Seas.

"We feel that Oasis Class was a game changer, particularly for the family market. But when Icon comes. We think it's just going to take it to a whole new level."

Masks

What is the best mask to wear on a cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

When might masks go away? No one knows quite yet, but Mr. Bayley is optimistic for a change in policy as we move in to 2022.

"I think it's pretty it's pretty certain that the mask policy is going to change for the whole industry, for everybody as we move into the first quarter... as long as we don't see any more variants appearing on the scene."

Mr. Bayley shared the results of a survey the cruise line conducted about masks, "Sixty five percent of all of our customers feel comfortable with some kind of mask guidance. A lot of people do feel comfortable with it as being something optional."

What is the best mask to wear on a cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

"We're very thoughtful about it and have been because of our family market. :So we're very sensitive to making sure we're not alienating a large group of customers."

"I 'm never arrogant enough to think that we solved it all, but our protocols are really working. Sometimes we can be accused of being a little overcautious, but it's just it's just all working out."

"I think for the industry and for our business, week by week, month by month, these things are going to start slipping away and we're going to get back to quite a quite a normal environment.

Capacity numbers

Frequently asked questions about cruising on Freedom of the Seas from Florida | Royal Caribbean Blog

One topic a lot of cruisers want to know his how full their ships will be in the near future.

Mr. Bayley shared some rough estimates for ships sailing over the next few months.

" In October, I think the Royal Caribbean International Brand fleet sailed at 50 percent load factor."

"In November it'll be 60 percent. In December, it'll be 65. As we move into January, we'll continue to increase it."

"We're monitoring and watching everything is occurring around us, and we're making sure that every time we increase our capacity, we believe it's very safe to do so. Our intention as we move into the spring is to get back to business as normal."

Royal Caribbean CEO teases "big news" to be announced soon

In:
18 Oct 2021

Let the rampant speculation begin.

Royal Caribbean on list of companies possibly under investigation for violating Florida's vaccine passport ban | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted a short and cryptic teaser on his Facebook page about a big announcement coming soon.

Mr. Bayley wrote three sentences in his teaser, "Get ready for the news of a lifetime. A big announcement is on the horizon.  Stay tuned!"

Less than an hour after posting it, he edited the post to change some of the wording.

"Get ready for some big news. We’ve got an announcement on the horizon. Stay tuned!"

What could it be? We will have to wait and see.

Cruise fans were quick to jump in with their guesses, ranging from new ship announcements, to Covid-19 protocol changes, President's Cruise announcement, and pretty much everything inbetween.

Here are some of the interesting ideas people shared in the comments of his Facebook post.

  • Icon of the Seas information
  • Vaccine mandate change
  • Free cruise giveaways
  • Wonder of the Seas news
  • $18 per day Deluxe Drink Package

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley talks about when cruises will restart and other hot topics | Royal Caribbean Blog

Since there is not any kind of hint in direction of what to expect, numerous possibilities loom. Not to mention the fact there is no telling if this big news will come out tomorrow, this week, or even this year.

Mr. Bayley is no stranger to posting on Facebook, having often shared his thoughts about what is happening in the cruise industry, as well as sharing behind-the-scenes peeks of what is forthcoming.

Royal Caribbean has a number of projects planned, as well as speculated upon, but it is difficult to know what sort of announcement to expect.

Besides the upcoming Icon Class cruise ships to be built over the next few years, Royal Caribbean also has port projects in Vanuatu, Antigua, and Labadee that have all been placed on hold.

Meanwhile, progress quietly is made on the Royal Beach Club in Paradise Island, and a new port project in Freeport, Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Product Innovation Officer, Jay Schneider, recently confirmed ship upgrades under the Royal Amplified program will pick back up in the future.

Royal Caribbean announces $97 million Voyager of the Seas amplification | Royal Caribbean Blog

"We're going to pick up Amplification again. We're going to keep making sure that the Amplification we have is working."

Moreover, new ship construction is not stopping either, "Our new build portfolio isn't isn't stopping. We're going to continue to build amazing ships."

"You're going to see new concepts come out on future ships and you're going to see us experiment with new fun ways to, again, get people to have an amazing vacation."

Royal Caribbean announces $97 million Voyager of the Seas amplification | Royal Caribbean Blog

When Mr. Bayley and/or Royal Caribbean makes the announcement, I will share it immediately on RoyalCaribbeanBlog.

Share your best guesses of what Mr. Bayley is hinting at in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean CEO talks about upcoming end of CDC's Conditional Sail Order

In:
13 Oct 2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandate over Covid-19 protocols is set to expire at the end of this month, leaving many to wonder what will happen next.

The Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) is a phased approach for cruise lines to follow in order to get ships approved to sail from the United States again. It is set to expire on November 1, 2021 unless extended.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley was asked about the upcoming end to the CSO and what it means for his cruise line going forward.

He was asked to provide the latest information related to the CSO, and he shared his thoughts on what is still very much an unknown situation.

Why haven't cruise lines been more aggressive with the CDC? | Royal Caribbean Blog

"There has been discussion with the CDC and with other government entities that are part of this process," Mr. Bayley explained. "We're waiting to get guidance on what could be the next steps."

Mr. Bayley then offered some ideas of what options might be possible, "One of those next steps could be that the Conditional Sailing Order would just expire, and we would continue as we are voluntarily working with the CDC and operating with various protocols and guidelines that have been recommended."

Mr. Bayley believes the success cruise lines have had in getting back to service has been a result of the work with the CDC, "We've got 15 ships operating and the protocols are really working."

Friday Photos | Royal Caribbean Blog

"Everything is operating extremely well, and that really was only possible through a lot of collaboration with the CDC and working with them and other health authorities around the world."

"We don't know what the next step will be. I think what's important is that, there's different ways of doing it, but everybody has the same goal and that is to keep people safe."

He added the CDC has been largely been supportive of what the cruise lines have been doing under the CSO, I think in many of the calls I've been on with the CDC, I think they have a sense of accomplishment that that the cruise industry really now is used somewhat as a gold standard example for other forms of travel and transportation on how things can really operate well."

Protocols

Face masks not listed on Royal Caribbean's August health protocols | Royal Caribbean Blog

Dovetailing into that conversation is the question of protocols on Royal Caribbean's cruise ships, and when a change may occur there as well.

Related to the CSO, Mr. Bayley added, "I think what's what we're all hoping for is a continuation of an improvement of the environment and a decrease in all of the protocols that are currently in place."

When asked about protocols being changed, he pointed to the fact the stringent protocols are mostly tied to what is happening with Covid-19 case counts around the country.

First look around Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

"The relationship between these protocols...masks, testing vaccines, et cetera, is directly related to what's really going on with COVID and how the in the case of the United States, the CDC views that."

Mr. Bayley provided a possible outlook at protocols changing, "I think what we'll see is as infections decline and continue to to to decline, these things will will change."

He admitted while he is not "a big fan of masks," he said wearing it on the ships "was really no big deal."

Adventure of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

"I would pop it on when I was walking through corridors or if I was going to get into an elevator. And most of the time I didn't have it on. I was outside most of the time. You don't have to wear a mask outside plenty of places in spaces where it's not required, so I didn't find it to be too too bothersome."

"I think we just have to try and work within these, these these guidelines that have been offered to us. But I do think it's all going to start stripping away as the environment gets better."

Update on Perfect Day at Lelepa

Perfect Day at Lelepa | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley also briefly talked about previously announced plans for a new private island in the South Pacific.

Royal Caribbean announced Perfect Day at Lelepa, which is an island in Vanuatu that would be used to bolster the Australian cruise market.

"That project, we paused, you know, for obvious reasons. But we will plan is to re-engage and restart that project in the coming months."

Royal Caribbean CEO gives updates on return to service, loyalty benefits and more

In:
01 Sep 2021

With all the changes and updates related to Royal Caribbean's return to service, the cruise line's CEO shared a new update.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley sent an email to Crown and Anchor Society guests with a look at the most important facts related to the restart process.

Royal Caribbean has been busy with getting its ships back in service, and there have been a lot of changes and tweaks along the way.  With half the fleet back in service, Mr. Bayley took some time to provide cruisers with where things stand.

Here is everything Mr. Bayley included in his email update to guests.

Halfway to the goal

Royal Caribbean CEO says pent-up demand still exists for cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

In just a few short months, 13 of the 26 ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet are now back in service.

"It has been full steam ahead since June, when Adventure of the Seas became the first Royal Caribbean International ship to sail the Caribbean after many months," Mr. Bayley noted.

The plan is for every single ship to return to service by spring 2022, as outlined by the cruise line in an update earlier this month.

"It’s onward and upward on all fronts — including several new developments I’m excited to share with you!"

Mr. Bayley also pointed out that every single of the test cruises in the United States have "passed with flying colors", coinciding with the effective health and safety measures onboard.

More ships will be restarting very soon, including Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty on September 5.

He also pointed t o other ports being able to resume cruises, such as Tampa, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico in October and November.

Perfect Day at CocoCay expansion

Royal Caribbean hoping to reopen Perfect Day at CocoCay soon | Royal Caribbean Blog

Snuck into the email was an announcement of a new expansion to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The new area is called "Hideaway Beach", and there were not many details included.

"I can also hardly wait to share more news about our plans in The Bahamas, including another expansion to make Perfect Day at CocoCay even more perfect with an entirely new experience we’re calling Hideaway Beach — you heard it here first!"

"A herculean effort"

Royal Caribbean begins vaccinating crew members in Miami | Royal Caribbean Blog

Thus far, over 160,000 guests have sailed on Royal Caribbean cruises from ports in the U.S., U.K., The Bahamas, Cyprus, Italy, Singapore and Spain.

Mr. Bayley gave credit to the hard working crew members who made this all possible, "This has been a herculean effort, and throughout it all, our crew have been the shining stars you’ve always known them to be. "

"Their commitment, positive attitude and smiling faces have made this all possible. And we can see the results of their impact in the feedback and record-setting guest ratings."

Adjusting to changes

First look at Royal Caribbean's new health protocols when it restarts cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley also talked about the challenges the cruise line has faced in dealing with changes. 

"Our health and safety measures will adapt to however many more curveballs and changes COVID-19 may have for us, including requirements from various countries and authorities."

He pointed to a recent change, where The Bahamas issued a new policy prohibiting anyone over the age of 12 that is unvaccinated to be able to visit their ports on a cruise ship.

The result is all ships sailing from Florida visiting The Bahamas now requires guests 12 and older be vaccinated.

"This now means every Royal Caribbean cruise from the U.S. will sail with fully vaccinated guests, while still welcoming children under 12 who are ineligible for the vaccine today."

Crown and Anchor Society update

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

With the email going out to Crown and Anchor Society guests, a lot of eyes are focused on the onboard experience for the cruise line's customer loyalty program.

Mr. Bayley said they are bringing back several Crown & Anchor Society benefits that were paused due to Covid-19.

As of September 1, this includes:

  • The Diamond Lounge is fully opening its doors to welcome more Diamond members and above
  • The exclusive Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club Top-tier Event 
  • Complimentary breakfast in specialty restaurants for Pinnacle Club members 

Mr. Bayley also referenced the recent announcement for Pinnacle Club members that will have access to a new lounge while the temporary pause on access to the Suite 
and Concierge lounges remains in effect.

"Pinnacle Club members, please know we have been determined to bring you a dedicated space to come together in the meantime."

"This will be available to each member through November 1, during which we’ll consistently evaluate the current public health circumstances for everyone’s well-being on board. We’re committed to returning this benefit to you as soon as practically possible."

Read the full email

If you want to read the entire email, here is a copy.

Royal Caribbean CEO gives update on cruise ship restart, Covid on ships, limiting capacity and more

In:
17 Aug 2021

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley is proud of his company's restart plans, and did not hold back in recognizing Royal Caribbean's victories, as well as challenges that still exist.

In a new social media post, Mr. Bayley posted an update on Royal Caribbean's restart plans, which read like a mile marker on the company's journey back to full operations.

While the process has had, "ups and downs and twists and turns", he was undeniably proud that by the end of August 13 cruise ships will be back in service, which represents half the fleet.

"All of our ships starting operating with reduced capacity either by government mandate," he shared on Facebook

Mr. Bayley added that all Royal Caribbean ships have limited capacity that range between 30 to 50 percent, and the company will increase capacity ship by ship over the course of each month.

Mr. Bayley also talked about the realities of cruising again, and that while there have been Covid-19 cases onboard the ship, they have been limited.

"As all guests are required to be tested before boarding regardless of vaccination status, we typically have 2 to 10 guests a week (out of thousands of guests boarding 12 ships) who do not board because they test positive."

"Do we have Covid positive guests onboard," Mr. Bayley shared. "Yes! How many guests are positive? Typically 1 or 2 of a thousand plus guests a week per ship."

Mr. Bayley attributes the the cases that do get caught onboard as a result of an incubation period for the virus, "Testing captures status at a point of time and if the guest is incubating infection then the test will miss it."

"Yes, vaccinated guests test positive for Covid and typically are asymptomatic."

If a case is found onboard, Mr. Bayley says those guests are quarantined and the crew members test immediate travel party, contact tracing and testing of all contacts and quarantine if positive.

"Repatriation home via private jet in the majority of cases."

Read moreRoyal Caribbean is flying passengers home on a private jet if they have Covid-19

Mr. Bayley also said the crew members are fully vaccinated, and all crew members are tested now being tested every week, instead of every two weeks, due to the Delta variant.

He said there are sometimes positive Covid cases among the crew, primarily during quarantine as they join the ship and are vaccinated and tested or during regular testing.

A few other thoughts from Mr. Bayley:

  • Guest satisfaction is "super high"
  • Total onboard vaccinated community ranging from 90 to 97 percent.
  • Mixed vaccines: "we continue to work with multiple authorities to find safe solutions."

Mr. Bayley ended by saying, "Please remember, we as a company, are trying our absolute best to protect our guests, employees and the communities we visit!"

Royal Caribbean CEO addresses mixed vaccines and vaccine requirements

In:
30 Jul 2021

While cruise ships are sailing again, there is still confusion about Covid-19 vaccine requirements, and Royal Caribbean International's CEO tried to address the issue again this week.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on social media an explanation of where things are right now with vaccine requirements.

Mr. Bayley has taken on a "hands on approach" to addressing customer concerns, especially on social media.

He started off by acknowledging the trouble some cruise fans have had with new protocols lately, "There is a lot of confusion and understandable concern over vaccine requirements."

He explained that depending on where a ship sails from, each country can have different regulations, "What guides our policy is primarily determined by which port and country the ship is home ported and sails from and returns to."

"For example If the ship sails from and returns to a USA port we are guided by CDC/FDA guidelines."

Mr. Bayley brought up the example of the United States, because he has heard from many Canadian guests and how they were guided by their government on when and how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 versus the U.S.

In recent weeks, cruise lines have added new protocols that prohibit some level of mixed vaccines, which depends on the mix of manufacturers and where you are sailing from.  

Royal Caribbean issued a mixed vaccine policy, but then revised their policy after getting a lot of questions from Canadian customers who would suddenly find themselves unable to sail.

The revised policy allows mixed vaccines in some situations, which is a step ahead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) preference for vaccinations not be mixed.

According to Bayley, Royal Caribbean has brought up the issue of the differences in the Canadian government's approach with that of the CDC, "Please understand we are not in a position to disregard the relevant governing authority."

"I have received many emails on this issue and we raised this yesterday with the CDC and while obviously sympathetic they cannot change the current position. All cruise lines are in a similar position."

Celebrity vs Royal Caribbean's approach

Mr. Bayley also addressed the different paths Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have taken in getting back to service.

In a comment to the same mixed vaccine post, Mr. Bayley responded to a question about, "Why Celebrity cruises, sailing out of Florida ports, are following the CDC guidelines, while Royal is bending to Governor De Santis’ orders?"

Mr. Bayley explained the different restart plans have to do with Royal Caribbean being a family cruise brand.

"In a normal year the majority of our guests are families. At any time throughout the year we carry approx 10 per cent plus of our guests who are kids 12 and under and they of course travel with their family."

"Because of the kids we have been sailing at around 90 percent vaccinated and so we would not be able to operate at the CDC 95 / 95 and so like Disney Cruises or MSC all family brands we chose this path. 

He said Florida's law, "presents challenges", but he said Royal Caribbean always complies with federal, state and local laws.

"Our wonderful sister brand Celebrity also welcomes kids and families and while they have a great time the number of kids and families is far less than Royal. Hope that clarifies."

"To be very clear both brands fully follow above and beyond the CDC guidelines."

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