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Royal Caribbean CEO updates on resuming cruises, President's cruise, which ships will sail first and more

05 Aug 2020

Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley spoke to travel advisors on a webinar and spoke on a number of commonly asked topics surrounding the current situation and the cruise line's recovery.

Mr. Bayley spoke for an hour on a variety of questions that travel agents had submitted prior to the webinar related to the timing and plans to resume cruises.

The questions were all about the current situation Royal Caribbean is facing in the midst of no sailings and the global health crisis.

More time needed to develop new health policies


A few hours before the webinar, Royal Caribbean announced they had cancelled more cruises, extending their voluntary suspension of cruises through October 31, 2020.

Mr. Bayley indicated that Royal Caribbean is "actively engaged" in the Healthy Sail Panel working on a healthy return to service plan.

He then went on to say that the combination of the CDC requesting public feedback, along with the submission of Royal Caribbean's return to service plan is one of the reasons why there needed to be another month of cancelled cruises.

"We think it's going to take obviously some time for back and forth with with the CDC when they see the full detail of the plan, and they've received all of the public comment."

Which ships will start first

Another question raised was which ships might start up first, and it looks like Royal Caribbean is still looking at short sailings to begin the return to service.

"I think when we resume service, our thinking is that will probably we'll probably start with short product, Perfect Day, and that'll be the how we'll start phasing in operations."

In addition, Mr. Bayley said during an employee-only call, he is committed to the idea of starting with an employee-only sailing in order to test out the new protocols.

"I said that the first cruise that we will operate through, Royal Caribbean International, will be an all employee cruise, a little bit like a shakedown cruise, because then we can test and take a look at in real-life operations all of the protocols that we're putting into place. And so our first cruise is going to be an employee cruise."

Healthy return to service update

Ultimately, Royal Caribbean wants to ensure when they resume cruises, they do it the right way.

A lot of this is going to be about trust.

Mr. Bayley reiterated a notion conveyed by different Royal Caribbean executives that they want to start cruising again once it makes sense, and not just for the sake of starting up.

"We would never want to resume service unless we were incredibly confident that we could create an environment that was healthier and safer than the environment from which people were coming."

"I think that's really why we're being really thoughtful and taking our time on creating all of the protocols that we we hope we will introduce when they're ready to be introduced."

President's Cruise cancellation

Included in today's announcement that Royal Caribbean would cancel its sailings through October is the 2020 President's Cruise has also been cancelled.

Mr. Bayley lamented the fact there will not be a sailing this year, but did say he hopes to announce a new sailing for 2021.

"We haven't yet decided when we'll do the 2021 President's Cruise, but we certainly will do it."

"So we'll probably announce in the coming weeks when the next President's Cruise will be."

Crew repatriation is almost complete

Some good news is the fact that Royal Caribbean is nearly complete with repatriating crew home.

Mr. Bayley said Royal Caribbean is about 97-98% complete, with some crew facing "unbelievable restrictions".

"One of the positive things that's happened in the past few weeks was that the CDC approved our accruing No Sail order plans and converted many of the ships of Royal Caribbean international and Celebrity to what's called the green code, which means that for 28 days or longer, none of those ships have had any COVID on them whatsoever."

"That green code designation means that the the ability to use commercial air, which which makes logistics a lot simpler."

Impact of coronavirus outbreaks on other cruise lines starting again

The big cruise news this week has been smaller European cruise lines have attempted to restart cruising, but have already experienced COVID-19 outbreaks on their ships.  This has many questioning what impact it will have on Royal Caribbean's ability to restart sailings.

"It's unfortunate, I think also it just shows it shows what a complex challenge this is."

"It's also interesting that what hasn't been reported is that both TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd, which are larger cruise brands, have been operating now, I think, TUI has now done four cruises without any incident"

Despite the fact that smaller lines will operate in a different way than Royal Caribbean, it is provides a good learning experience to overcome these challenges.

"The last thing we want to do is to return to service and get it wrong. And I think and I think our customers and our travel partners really do expect to get it right. And that's our focus."

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

13 May 2020

Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley spoke to travel agents on a webinar on Wednesday and commented on a number of commonly asked questions surrounding the current situation and the cruise line's recovery.

Mr. Bayley answered a series of questions that travel agents had submitted prior to the webinar about a variety of concerns related to the timing and plans to resume cruises.

The questions were all about the current situation Royal Caribbean is facing in the midst of no sailings and the global health crisis.

When will Royal Caribbean cruises resume?

Naturally, the question everyone wants to know is when will Royal Caribbean start cruising again.

Mr. Bayley indicated internal research is showing guests are more interested in traveling again, and bookings improving, particularly for 2021. He believes people are getting fatigued with the quarantine and everything else going on, and people want to plan their vacations once this all ends.

"You need to be timing your return to service so it fits with how consumers are thinking about taking a vacation. We have some protocols that we need to really get right, and of course we need to be working with the CDC on all of these things."

"There's going to be a point in time in the future, I think, when all of these things cross and it'll be the perfect moment to announce that we'll be returning to service. I really don't know when that will be."

Mr. Bayley made a comparison to what is happening in China to what may happen in the United States and Europe. May signifies a major travel opportunity in China, and Royal Caribbean sent their team in China to visit Shanghai Disneyland to get a sense of what recovery looks like in a major tourism center in a country so hard hit. They saw a major bounce back with demand for tickets there, along with travel all around China.

Which ships will restart sailing first?

Another question posed was in what way will Royal Caribbean bring back its ships into service.

"It's pretty logical that when we restart our operations, when everything's good and when we've got everything figured out, that it will be the most popular products on the most popular itineraries with the best ships going to the best destinations."

"I would say the startup, depending upon the circumstances and timing, will be relatively gentle. It won't be a sudden, 'Wow, everything's operating.' I think we'll put our toe in the water and begin operations and make sure everything is perfect, and make sure the guests are having a wonderful time, and making sure we've got all of the protocols established."

"Probably the short product to Perfect Day will be among the first to start."

Private destinations role in recovery

Many travel advisors were curious what role private destinations, such as Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee, play in starting back up.

"The great thing about the destinations is we have a massive amount of control over who comes, who goes, all of the protocols. We can manage those destinations exceptionally well. I think the private destinations will be integral to the recovery."

What will onboard experience be like for guests when things resume?

Equally high on the list of concerns among guests and travel agents alike is what will it be like to be on a Royal Caribbean cruise, especially in the first few months cruises resume sailing.

"Of course it has to be fantastic, making sure that everybody is safe, both from a practical operational perspective, and also from a very optical perspective of making sure people understand that this is good, I don't need to worry about these concerns, I'm going to have a great vacation."

"I think when we're ready to announce all of the processes and protocols that we'll be introducing, I hope people will be excited and comforted by the way that we're approaching this."

In terms of the Windjammer buffet, Mr. Bayley did talk a little about what it may look like going forward.

"We've got teams working on every single element of the guest experience, and we obviously have a team working on the buffet. I think in the beginning, there will not be a buffet in the beginning, that's how I see it. It depends again upon the timing. We will utilize the space, we will utilize the Windjammer, but in all probability it won't be a classical buffet. It will be something more akin to a restaurant."

"I think the key focus on dining, for example, is making sure that our guests have plenty of choice. But now, that plenty of choice has to be put through the lens of distancing, and safety and health, etc. in a more acute way. I think there will be changes for sure, and I think the word 'buffet' will diminish and we'll replace it with a new concept."

Will the delivery of Odyssey of the Seas be delayed?

Last week it was disclosed that new ship deliveries will be delayed, and that lead to a question about if Odyssey of the Seas will be on time or not.

"We are working on that with the yard. Everything was on schedule. There have been delays because of obviously there has a lot going on around the world, and it impacted the shipyard at the same time. Our newbuild organization is deep in project discussion now with the yard itself. We don't have any definite dates yet. I would hope in the coming weeks we will have something firmed up."

"I think there may be some delays, but we're working through it as a team to try and figure that out."

What Royal Caribbean is doing to repatriate crew members

At one point, Mr. Bayley interrupted the question and answer session to bring up a point he wanted to raise concerning the work Royal Caribbean is doing to repatriate its crew members, as well as dispel inaccurate media reports on those efforts.

Mr. Bayley characterized getting crew members home as, "genuinely a massive challenge," due to being caught in the middle of different laws and restrictions related to quarantine rules.

"We've been getting those crew home over the past two months, and we've managed to get over 10,000 crew home and we've got about another 20,000 crew going home in the coming weeks."

Related to those efforts, Mr. Bayley commented on news reports that painted a different picture than what the cruise line was conducting.

"There were some media reports that quite honestly we're one-sided and really unfair," Mr Bayley stated.  "I can assure everybody that we are passionate about our crew. We love our crew. We are doing everything in our power to take care for them, and to make sure that they get home to their families. By the way, over a thousand crew decided they just simply wanted to stay on our ships because they didn't feel safe going home."

"We're doing everything we can to take care of our crew and get them home. The crew are pleased with what we're doing, they're thankful, they're understanding."

What will happen to the President's Cruise this year?

One travel agent wanted to know what the outlook was for this year's President's Cruise in Europe and if it will occur.

Mr. Bayley responded, "I'm feeling pretty bullish that I'm going to be on that President's cruise, and I'm really looking forward to it."

Will there be a shift back to smaller ships?

Another question brought up was if the current health crisis will lead Royal Caribbean to shift back to smaller ships instead of larger ones.

"Through the lens of COVID-19, it's really about density and space. I think people may assume because there's less people on a smaller ship, that makes it better, but that's really not correct. A larger ship has a lot more space."

What questions would you ask Michael Bayley? Share your top concerns in the comments!

Royal Caribbean executives take pay cut as coronavirus impact on cruise industry deepens

01 Apr 2020

According to paperwork filed with the SEC, Royal Caribbean's top executives are taking a pay cut while the cruise industry deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has volunteered to not take a salary through the end of September, while Royal Caribeban International CEO Michael Bayley took a 25% pay cut.

Other executives taking a 25% pay cut include CFO Jason Liberty, and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises.

Effective as of April 1, 2020, Richard Fain, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, agreed to forego payment of his base salary and Jason Liberty, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, each elected to reduce their respective base salaries by 25%, in each case, through September 30, 2020. These reductions were made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative financial and operational impacts resulting therefrom.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative financial and operational impacts resulting therefrom, the Board of Directors approved to forego all cash retainers and fees payable for Board and committee service, effective from April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

COVID-19 has completely disrupted the cruise industry, with Royal Caribbean in the midst of cancelling all sailings through at least mid-May.

Royal Caribbean CEO teases Odyssey of the Seas

24 Oct 2019

Royal Caribbean International's President and CEO Michael Bayley seems very excited about its next new cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas, because he recently talked about some big things coming with this ship.

According to trade publication Travel Market Report, Bayley spoke to a number of travel agents about Odyssey of the Seas and the impact it will have on the industry.

"We’re not going to talk about it yet, but it will be a game changer with a lot of brand-new ideas, just as Oasis class was a real game changer. We’ve got a huge amount of innovation and new stuff coming online in the next couple of years that’s going to change the game.”
"We’re working on something super-special for Odyssey. We were in a meeting yesterday and I’m very excited about what we will be announcing, a twist we will be very pleased to announce."

Mr. Bayley also mentioned Odyssey of the Seas will be sailing out of Rome into the Eastern Mediterranean. Following the ship's inaugural season out of Port Everglades, Odyssey will sail back to Rome in the spring for seven- and nine-night sailings in summer 2021 and then return to Fort Lauderdale.

Odyssey of the Seas will also re-focus on its kids programming with new features for children. The ship will feature an area known as The Play Place and include:

  • Climbable creations
  • Art and science projects workshop
  • Tech studio
  • "The Arena" for competitive sports and games
  • The Hangout with video games
  • Revamped Adventure Ocean babies program, with lots of interactive and learning play and music
  • Adventure Ocean Junior space (for 3-5 year olds)

Senior VP of Sales, Trade Support and Service Vicki Freed talked about a significant change to the teens area on Odyssey.  The teen club will feature a secret Speakeasy entrance. “It won’t have a sign; it will be a secret place,” Freed said. “To get in, you have to know where it is.” Teens also will have a private outdoor deck and a new arcade lounge with arcade games teenaged guests have suggested.

Royal Caribbean CEO predicts 50% increase in Caribbean passengers

21 Oct 2019

Speaking at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) outlook forum, Royal Caribbean's President and CEO, Michael Bayley, predicted that its Caribbean cruise tourism business will grow by 50 percent by 2030.

Mr. Bayley sees continuing growth in the Caribbean, with 8 out of the top 10 cruise destinations worldwide are in the Caribbean, and that more cruise passengers will be coming to the Caribbean in the future.

“The Caribbean was, is, will always be, the number one cruise destination in the world,” Bayley told the gathering of ministers, chief executives, policymakers and other senior Caribbean tourism professionals at the gathering in Antigua and Barbuda.


“There are considerations that we need to take into account in terms of some of the destinations’ ability to absorb the growth that is coming – in some places the growth is perhaps already at a critical mass – but we need to find a way to accommodate the growth that is inevitably coming to cruise tourism in the Caribbean,” he stressed.

Bayley touted the success of Perfect Day at CocoCay, citing it as an example of collaboration that benefits both the destination and the cruise line.

“There is a lot of demand for these products and if we can figure out how to collaborate together to create these experiences, they don’t always have to have this shape and form, they can be other types of experiences”.


“As we evolve in terms of our ship design and experiences and what we are creating for our customers we really believe there is a huge opportunity to take all that knowledge…and transfer it into the destinations in a very meaningful way,” he added.

Royal Caribbean CEO talks tech and Icon Class

25 Jan 2019

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley spoke to TTG about a variety of topics related to the future of Royal Caribbean, and touched upon a few topics that revealed a few hints of what is to come.

When questions about the features and innovations of sister cruise brand Celebrity Cruises, Michael Bayley confirmed that the cruise line is looking at bringing the Infinite Veranda idea over to Royal Caribbean, “Edge has a lot of innovation. We need time to assess what works well and what doesn’t but we will take on some elements and put them on the new class of ship – Icon class and potentially Oasis 5."

Bayley's comments follow up on guest surveys from last year that showed off a possible Infinite Veranda for Royal Caribbean.

Mr. Bayley also commented on the status of the cruise line's new smart phone app, saying the new tech rollout will be available on around 12 ships by the end of year and the rest by "early 2020". He added, “We’re looking at facial recognition and notifications based on the profile of the passenger.”

Royal Caribbean CEO talks Quantum 5, better pizza, Oasis Class in Galveston and more

01 Oct 2018

As part of Royal Caribbean's President's Cruise on Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley held a question and answer session with cruisers to address questions and concerns.  In the nearly two hour event, a number of intriguing changes were announced, along with updates to topics of interest to many cruisers.

Here are the big tidbits of information from the session.

Quantum 5 coming to USA & Europe?

Michael Bayley started off the session with guests by giving an overview of where Royal Caribbean is today, and went over some of the new ships joining the fleet.  He mentioned the fifth Quantum Class ship and indicated there is a possibility that ship will sail from the United States and Europe.

"The following year we have Spectrum two, or Quantum Ultra two, and that could possibly be coming to Europe and America."

The Perfect Day at CocoCay pier will be completed by the end of 2018

The new pier that is being added to CocoCay has suffered a few construction delays, but Michael Bayley confirmed the pier will be complete, "by the end of December".

Bayley estimates out of all the sailings to CocoCay, about 10 or 11% would be missed due to unfavorable tendering condtions. With the new pier, he believes the missed calls will drop to about 2%.

The pizza is getting better

Michael Bayley confirmed Royal Caribbean is actively working towards improving the pizza on its ships.  

A new approach to their pizza has seen a six point increase in guest satisfaction, thanks to the cruise line's better crust, cheese, sauce and toppings.

Bayley said the pizza rating is hovering around 92% guest satisfaction, but he wants to see it climb to at least 95%.

Moreover, the next target for improving the food onboard is to work on better desserts. He hopes to roll out the desserts to the rest of the fleet in the coming months.

An update on cruising from California

One cruiser asked Michael Bayley about the prospects of Royal Caribbean returning to California and offering cruises regularly from Los Angeles.

"We always are evaluating the deployment into California, whether it is San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. We know that two of our competing brands are putting ships into California in the next year or so, it will be interesting to see how they do.

From a business perspective, we still can't quite figure out how to make the best sense from a business perspective, so we keep looking at it. I can't say it's not gonna happen, I'm pretty sure it's going to happen. The question is, when. For sure in the next five to ten years there will be a ship in California."

No new Crown and Anchor Society tier

When asked about changes to the Crown and Anchor Society tiers, Michael Bayley reittered his belief that Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program is the best in the industry.  Moreover, he indicated they are not looking to add a new tier into the program.

Bayley also mentioned they are looking at what they can do to improve the loyalty programs among Royal Caribbean International's sister brands, which would allow you to sail on any sister brand with the same status as you have earned on Royal Caribbean International.

No comment on possibility of an Oasis Class ship sailing from Galveston

Royal Caribbean's Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra touched on the news of an Oasis Class ship coming to Galveston.  

"It's being worked on by government and local officials in Galveston, but to Michael's point, it is our intention, but we need a few more things to go our way in terms of funding and approvals. We'd love to have an Oasis Class ship in Galveston."

Royal Caribbean CEO talks new ships, innovations and options coming soon to the cruise line

20 Apr 2017

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley spoke with Travel Weekly about a variety of topics this week, which confirmed or announced a number of changes coming to the cruise line in the next few years.

Among the topics mentioned were

  • Quantum 4 (also known as Quantum Plus), will set sail in 2019 and spend its first winter in China, and, if it is not deployed to the UK earlier that summer, will spend the whole summer in China too.
  • Symphony of the Seas will feature, "an experience for kids and the kid in you, something for adventure seekers but in a nice, safe way."
  • Royal Caribbean is working on several product enhancements on Symphony of the Seas to improve the dining, entertainment and service. All will start to be revealed next month.
  • Bayley indicated Majesty of the Seas could be sailing to Cuba too, "We have 40-50 sailings calling into Havana in 2017, starting in April – mostly on Empress of the Seas but also a few on Majesty of the Seas."
  • Royal Caribbean will build a "massive water park" in CocoCay that, "will eclipse any other water park in the world."
  • Guests on CocoCay may be able to get off the ship and stay there overnight, "we will be adding some private cabana accommodation for Suite Class guests who may want to get off and stay for a few days in total luxury and privacy before hopping on another ship to come home."

You can read the entire interview with Michael Bayley on TravelWeekly.

Royal Caribbean names Michael Bayley new CEO of cruise line

08 Dec 2014

Royal Caribbean announced its new President and CEO today, Michael Bayley, to be the head of Royal Caribbean International.

Bayley's appointment is effective immediately.

Bayley was previously the CEO of sister company Celebrity Cruises.  Prior to his time at the head of Celebrity, Bayley served in several senior roles at Royal Caribbean International, including Executive Vice President of Operations. He is credited for playing a key role in the company’s international expansion, helping launch company operations in markets around the world.

Bayley replaces Adam Goldstein, who was promoted to Royal Caribbean Ltd Chief Operating Officer back in April of 2014.

Bayley commented on his new position, "Royal Caribbean International is a brand with an incredible history – and unlimited potential. The ships, personified in the new Quantum class, are some of the best and most innovative in the world. And the crews that service Royal Caribbean International guests have a track record of delighting guests from every culture around the world. I look forward to an exciting future as we raise our game to an even higher level of performance."

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