The cruise line has faced a shady climate because of the epidemic sinceRoyal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report returned to North American sailings in July 2020.
First, the airline has to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention''s restrictions on passenger loads, frequently changing mask rules, precruise testing protocols, and requirements that crews be completely vaccinated.
Russia''s invasion of Ukraine has further complicated these rules. Several crew members have been kept away from returning to the cruise line.Royal Caribbean and all cruise lines have been accused of having to figure out how many members they need to be hired and then meeting those demands.
Jason Liberty, RCL''s chief executive, revealed that passenger loads have returned to normal. During the company''s first-quarter earnings call, he spoke.
"We continue to see strong demand for leisure travel and cruising. "The strong secular pattern of experiences over things that shaped our business in the past years is now recovering toward pre-covid levels," he said.
"Consumers are re-engaging with the world, and therefore, travel costs in 2022 are expected to exceed prepandemic levels, with consumers planning to travel more frequently.
"Cruise consideration is the highest it has ever experienced in two years, with prepandemic levels approaching, with the greatest significant rise among novices."
The cruise line is good news, but it has also created a problem.
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Royal Caribbean Has a Problem (and a Plan)
For a variety of reasons, sailing with full ships requires a full crew. That''s been a challenge for Royal Caribbean.
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First, crew members must be completely vaccinated, and the company has also had to deal with the US government''s slow process of visas.
The combination of a limited hiring pool and a lack of onboarding crew members has resulted in staffing difficulties. The company has also had to deal with crew members testing positive for covid, which has forced them to be quarantined until they return multiple negative tests.
It''s a perfect storm that left Royal Caribbean struggling to fill open positions.Not enough crew members lead to longer service delays and shorter wait times onboard.
This impact has resulted in a certain number of boats operating at an all-time low.
According to Matt Hochberg of Royal Caribbean Blog, the cruise line has an aggressive plan to add additional crew members to solve the situation.
"The company has been holding job fairs in Europe since April, bringing more employees together, which has taken them to countries such as Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, and others."
"The Royal Caribbean Group has agreed to hire more crew in Trinidad and Tobago, which is designed to employ 2,000 people from the islands to operate on Royal Caribbean Group ships."
Crowds Are Coming Back to Cruises
Because passengers have returned to ships, Royal Caribbean is required additional crew.
"The number of available rooms occupied has increased throughout the first quarter, and we finished the month of March with a load factor of 68%," Liberty said.
"We expect our load factors to continue to build, averaging between 75 and 80% in the second quarter, and reaching triple digits by the end of the year.
"We continue to be proactive about building our business, being mindful of maintaining price integrity, profiting from high onboard spenders, and, as always, focusing on our guests and crew."
RCL has to recruit more crew members, and over the world it''s a challenge to find and hire them. Royal Caribbean has decided to be aggressive and intensifying its recruiting efforts.