Royal Caribbean Group
Chairman & CEO Richard D. Fain
and Chairman William K. Reilly
reflect on 2020
To say 2020 was challenging is an understatement.
The pandemic tested and changed our lives in countless ways. What it didn’t change for Royal Caribbean Group is our deep commitment to meet the environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges of our time.
ESG is core to our business strategy. Our foundational values of integrity and continuous improvement fuel our commitment for the long-term success of our company, the countries where we operate and the communities we visit, as well as the health, safety and well-being of our employees and our guests.
Continuous improvement is the persistent wave that drives our work, the ships we build, the infrastructure we develop in coastal communities, and the ESG targets we aim to achieve.
This past year, we safely repatriated more than 45,000 employees to their home countries, established programs to assist our travel partners, offered financial relief to our employees, and worked with key cruise ports to offer small business grants and aid to organizations like food banks and community centers.
We focused on the industry’s healthy return to service. Together with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., we assembled a leading group of public health experts to establish a Healthy Sail Panel, which was charged with developing science-based cruise line health and safety practices to protect our customers, crew and local communities. This work resulted in a robust and multi-layered approach to put our cruises in the forefront of healthy sailing.
Setting targets and reporting on progress is critical to our ESG focus. Our ESG targets were met, and in some cases, exceeded, and they are aligned with all 14 of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals that are relevant to the risks and opportunities in our operations. Some of our accomplishments include:
Chairman & CEO
Royal Caribbean Group
2020 and much of 2021 were a time like no other, in the universal suspension of human activity and progress, as in the history of the cruise industry. For the company, the health and safety of passengers and crew became a consuming, daunting preoccupation. In March 2020, the immediate challenge was to discontinue cruising, berth ships indefinitely, and return 45,000 crew to their home countries. The unfolding future looked bleak and foreboding, logistically, financially, and in public confidence and reputation. In a year of uniquely compelling distractions senior management nevertheless took the long view by electing to equip new ships with much more climate friendly fuels. The decision was in keeping with a widely shared pride in the environment notable among staff throughout the company. An increase in public and investor interest in ESG bodes well for a culture with a long history of leadership on the issue.
Reflecting now on that period the message of this Sustainability Report is notable for the consistent and uninterrupted progress the company achieved. A major new course was decided to introduce fuel cells and liquid natural gas in some of the 13 ships now in planning or under construction.
Stocktaking of ambitious environmental commitments revealed that a full agenda of nature protecting measures identified in partnership with World Wildlife Fund and set five years ago were achieved, several before the dates promised.
Royal Caribbean Group took a leading role for the cruise industry in engaging with the US Centers for Disease Control. The company collaborated with government regulators and proposed a comprehensive scenario for safe and healthy resumption of cruising. Protocols for rigorous protection of passengers and crews and involving testing, spacing, food handling, contact tracing, and care and transport of anyone testing positive—all were negotiated and agreed. A safe sailing charter has reassured regulators whose initial impression of the cruise industry had left them wary, skeptical whether cruising had a future during a pandemic. In the months since sailing has resumed the protective measures and controlled shipboard experience have been reassuring.
The body of this Sustainability Report details steady progress in a serious and ambitious commitment to preserve the allure of the sea and the beauty of the oceans, for these remain the basis of pleasure for the passengers and for the success of the company.
Along with our entire Board, I have always valued how Royal Caribbean Group employees rise to meet every challenge and opportunity and feel confident that we will come back stronger than ever.
William K. Reilly
Board Committee on Safety, Security and Health