Richard Fain stepping down as CEO of Royal Caribbean Group

The long-serving executive will be replaced by chief financial officer Jason Liberty

Richard Fain stepping down as CEO of Royal Caribbean Group
Richard Fain will remain as chair of the Royal Caribbean Group board of directors

By Alex Smith |

Richard Fain is stepping down as CEO of Royal Caribbean Group on 3 January 2022 after 33 years. The long-serving executive will be replaced by the current chief financial officer (CFO) of Royal Caribbean Group, Jason Liberty.

The third-longest serving CEO among current leaders of companies listed on the S&P 500 index, Fain has overseen the introduction of a range of new ship categories. These include Royal Caribbean International’s Sovereign, Voyager and Oasis classes, and Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice and Edge classes, as well as Royal Caribbean International’s Icon-Class and Silversea Cruises’ ‘Project Evolution’, which are both still to come in 2023. Working with Liberty, Fain will continue his involvement in the group's ship construction programme in his role as chair of Royal Caribbean Group’s board of directors.

"There are no words to express my admiration and appreciation to the people of the Royal Caribbean Group, who have been the real drivers of our success; and my profound appreciation for the support and guidance of the board of directors during good times and bad throughout this long period of sustained growth,” said Fain. "Given the great depth and breadth of our leadership, and the positive outlook for our business, this is the appropriate time to step aside and have Jason take over. He is a highly versatile and strategic leader, who has been integral to all aspects of the company's accomplishments and performance."

Fain also led the cruise company through the global pandemic and was a leader in the creation of the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of health experts who established safety and wellness protocols for the cruise industry.

"Richard has been a visionary leader, who has made innumerable and remarkable contributions to our company and our industry," said Bill Kimsey, lead director of the Royal Caribbean Group board of directors. "Most recently, his stewardship during the Covid-19 pandemic marks him as one of the great CEOs of his generation. The cruising community and all of us in the company owe him a debt of gratitude."

Liberty joined Royal Caribbean Group in 2005 and served in financial, strategic and operational roles before becoming CFO in 2013. He is also responsible for Silversea Cruises, the company’s joint ventures with TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, as well as the Royal Caribbean Group’s strategy, technology, supply chain, port operations and legal functions.

"Our incredible people and culture, combined with our leading brands and the most innovative fleet in the world are what make our organisation so successful,” said Liberty. “I'm grateful to both the board for selecting me, and to Richard, for his friendship, mentoring and guidance. I look forward to building upon the company's remarkable record in the years ahead."

Naftali Holtz will replace Liberty as CFO on 3 January 2022. Holtz is currently senior vice president of finance for the Royal Caribbean Group, responsible for corporate, capital and revenue planning and analysis, deployment planning, risk management and treasury.

Richard Fain discussed the factors behind the success of Royal Caribbean Group’s return to service in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review

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