Royal Caribbean International CEO Optimistic for Future of Cruising Amid Recession Fears

Royal Caribbean International CEO Optimistic for Future of Cruising Amid Recession Fears

Now that pandemic-related restrictions have largely subsided, so-called “revenge travel” is proving to be among consumers’ top priorities. Americans have shown a willingness to spend on travel and tourism experiences, despite the fact that record-high inflation rates have resulted in price hikes.

Amid growing concerns about an impending economic recession, analysts are questioning whether that consumer sentiment and current spending trends in the travel sector will continue.


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Royal Caribbean International‘s (RCI) CEO, Michael Bayley, recently weighed in on the debate, telling Fox Business that, the group’s brands—Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Silversea Cruises—are continuing to experience a robust rebound in travel demand and expressed that he’s “quite optimistic about the future”.

In talking with the outlet, Bayley characterized RCI as a family-focused brand, even given the company’s prodigious scale. RCI is one of the world’s largest cruise operators, with over 50,000 employees working aboard its 26 ships, across the globe.

“Clearly, customers want to go on vacation. There is a lot of interest in experiences,” Bayley said. “Most importantly what we see is people value relationships and family connections more, and they are seeking time together with families and, of course, for Royal Caribbean, that’s our sweet spot.”

Bayley confirmed that cruising demand picked up immediately upon the retraction of international travel restrictions and COVID-related cruise ship protocols dictated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, he added, “that increase in demand has stayed with us.”

Royal Caribbean's Vicki Freed and Michael Bayley
Royal Caribbean’s Vicki Freed and Michael Bayley. (photo by Patrick Clarke)

Now, despite growing concerns over a potential global recession being on the horizon, Bayley said he doesn’t expect consumers to let it deter them from taking their vacations.

“Cruise has a remarkably strong value proposition, high quality, great value,” he affirmed. “And, typically what we see when we go into these bumpy periods is the cruise does pretty well. A lot of people will continue to cruise because the value is so high.”

He reported that the company feels good about bookings levels as it heads into the fourth quarter of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. Part of Royal Caribbean’s confidence amid today’s tumultuous economic conditions is inspired by the upcoming debut of its newest and most ambitious cruise ship: Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas, Chill Island, Royal Caribbean
The all-new Chill Island on Icon of the Seas. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

The innovative new vessel, the cruise line’s very first Icon Class ship, is scheduled to sail its maiden voyage in January 2024. It’ll feature never-before-seen onboard “neighborhoods”, the first suspended infinity pool and the largest waterpark at sea, and much more. Five years in the making, the ship was characterized by Bayley as “the next generation of family vacation”.

“We sought…to create the world’s best family vacation five years ago when we began the design process for Icon of the Seas,” Royal Caribbean Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider told Fox Business. “People continue to seek out, you know, memories with their family, new experiences they’ve never done before,” he opined, “and those sort of enriching moments are things that will be offered…[on] Icon of the Seas.”

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