4 6 INTERV IEW After the dark comes the light Michael Bayley explains to Susan Parker how Royal Caribbean International’s ability to be flexible during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to positive operational developments “ We are headed into a better environment and I think we are all optimistic about the future” W hile many cruise lines are yet to resume sailing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Royal Caribbean International has successfully operated cruises on Quantum of the Seas out of Singapore since December 2020, with the season now extended through June 2021. Deploying Healthy Sail Panel protocols, developed by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, alongside the Ministry of Health of the Singapore government’s own procedures, the cruise brand has carried 45,000 Singapore residents to date and received high guest satisfaction rates. Those very same fundamental protocols are part of the recommendations to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vis a vis its Conditional Sail Order announced at the end of October. “We are talking on a weekly basis with the CDC,” says Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “Soon, we are expecting the release of the next phase of technical specifications for an open pathway for trial sailings.” Royal Caribbean already has 250,000 volunteers poised and ready to step aboard for trial cruises when the time comes. “We are headed into a better environment and I think we are all optimistic about the future,” says Bayley. “There are two big variables: the prevalence of Covid-19 in the community/source market and the availability of the vaccine.” With more than one million US citizens now receiving vaccines per day and the US administration committed to increasing this number, it is expected that by spring and into summer, anyone in the USA who wants a vaccination will be able to get one. The hope is that this will bring the number of fatalities down significantly, explains Bayley.