Sunday, July 14, 2024

Royal Caribbean Group to drop pre-cruise testing

Royal Caribbean Group will drop pre-embarkation Covid-19 testing for vaccinated passengers on cruises of five days or less from August 8. The company – which operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises – made the announcement during its second quarterly results call .

Speaking on the call, Jason Liberty, president and chief executive, said the firm’s brands would still test unvaccinated passengers and added that he expected to drop testing for vaccinated guests on longer cruises in the near future.

Liberty (pictured) went on to say: “In 2022, as soon as the US testing requirement was lifted [in June] we saw a 9 per cent, 10 per cent lift in bookings for 2022 sailings. We made up quite a bit of ground since that requirement was lifted.”

Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International president and chief executive, said around 40 per cent of Royal Caribbean customers who still held Future Cruise Credits (FCCs) were waiting for the testing requirement to be removed.

“We expect to see an increase in bookings today,” he said.

Liberty said the firm expects 2023 to be a “normal” year with normal load factors, better rates and strong earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

But he added: “We continue to expect 2022 to be a strong transitional year as we build occupancy levels. I am confident about our recovery trajectory.”

Chief financial officer Naftali Holtz said load factors on the company’s Caribbean itineraries were 103 per cent and north-east and north-west American itineraries were around 90 per cent.

However, he cited the Russian-Ukrainian conflict to explain why European cruise ship load factors were around 75 per cent.

Liberty added: “We’ve seen very strong demand for Europe for 2023. The volumes picks up as we exit the summer. We do expect Europe to act and behave very similar to how it did in 2019.”

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