Royal Caribbean Nearly Completes Trips Home for its Worldwide Crew

Royal Caribbean completed most of its crew trips home
Royal Caribbean's cruise ship Ovation of the Seas in Mumbai - Mumbai Port Trust

Published Jul 2, 2020 8:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

Royal Caribbean Cruises, the parent company of the cruise lines, has nearly completed its efforts to repatriate crew members from its cruise ships. The lines had increased their focus on completing the trips home over the last two months as it became apparent that the cruise industry would continue its suspension of operations.

In total, Royal Caribbean and its partner companies have 61 cruise ships with over 77,000 shipboard employees. Of those numbers, Royal Caribbean said it was working to repatriate a total of approximately 44,000 crew members worldwide. The company reports that more than 39,000 crew members have been returned home or nearly 90 percent. Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service Vicki Freed told travel partners that the company would reach 97 percent of its target by July 15.

It has been a worldwide effort for the company to complete the travel for its crew members. Early in the suspension crew members were flowing on chartered flights using both domestic and international airports, such as Barbados, as the base for the flights.

Royal Caribbean, however, took a slightly different strategy than some of the other cruise companies. In May speaking to investors CFO Jason Liberty said, “Our teams have done an exceptional job of really reducing the operating costs while the ships are not operating.” He said there was an opportunity to “move some of them into a cooler type of layup,” but he told the investment community “we've found creative ways to have the ships in a maybe warmer layup, with really the cost differential being very small.”

With air travel becoming more limited and restrictions from the Centers for Disease Control and others, Royal Caribbean, like others in the cruise industry, moved to the strategy of dispatching their cruise ships to transport crew members home. Recently they have been working with the governments of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands to return crew members home. Some of the ships have had high profile quarantine situations that are still being resolved to disembark the crew members.

Some of the ships have also been dispatched to more distant destinations in Europe and Asia. Some of the company’s cruise ships joined the large gathering in Manila Bay while others have transported crew members to India, Indonesia, and Singapore. For example, Celebrity Cruises ship the Celebrity Infinity sailed from Miami with stops in the Azores, France, Greece, and transiting the Suez Canal before it arrived in Mumbai. There she met up with the Anthem of the Seas, which transferred the 912 crew members before the Celebrity ship continued to Goa to disembark the combined crew from the two ships. The Celebrity Infinity is now returning to Europe with a skeleton crew.

Royal Caribbean International currently has canceled most of its cruise operations until September 16, 2020, with programs in Alaska, Canada/New England, and Bermuda completely canceled for 2020. The company’s other large North American brand, Celebrity Cruises has announced similar cancelations as has its primary European partner brand TUI Cruises. Pullmantur Cruises, which Royal Caribbean holds a 49 percent ownership, recently announced that it was filing for reorganization under the Spanish insolvency laws, but according to rumors in the industry, Royal Caribbean repossessed the company’s three cruise ships.