“We won’t come back until we’re absolutely sure we have done everything we can to work to protect the safety of our guests and crew.”

By Cailey Rizzo
May 22, 2020
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This week, Royal Caribbean announced it expects to resume sailing the high seas as early as August, but the company's CEO says nothing is definite.

“We’re not saying we’re confident we are starting on August 1,” Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain said in a CNBC interview on Thursday. “We won’t come back until we’re absolutely sure we have done everything we can to work to protect the safety of our guests and crew.”

While the cruise line has said it will not resume sailings before the end of July, Fain clarified that the August 1 start date is not confirmed and is subject to change, based on health conditions and government restrictions in the coming months.

"We will work the authorities, we will work with all the experts that we've asked to help us on this to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect our guests and crew," he said.

Whenever cruise ships reopen for business, there will likely be drastic changes onboard — which are still in brainstorm phases as authorities continue to learn about the coronavirus.

“I think we're all learning I think that's one of the important things and it's important that we do understand all of the implications," he said. "We have consulted with some of the leading experts in the world to make sure we have the best protocols, the best sanitation, the best hygiene, [and] the best testing to allow us to come back in a way that we're confident in doing all the things we should be to protect those people."

Fain suspects that capacity will be limited and self-service buffets have not been definitely eliminated, but their status is up in the air.

"My guess is that when we start, we will limit the number of people who can go onto a ship just as my neighborhood restaurants are beginning to open up,” Fain told CNBC.

As for social distancing he noted that a large cruise ship capable of carrying thousands of passengers will make social distancing easier. When occupancy rates are capped, people will be able to be spread out throughout the ship’s multiple floors.

“There's actually more room per person, so it’s not the size of the ship, it’s the way you manage your product,” Fain said.

Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruises also announced sailing suspensions through August. Princess Cruises extended its service suspension through the summer. Some cruises will remain on pause even through the fall.

As the cruise industry aims to reopen later this year, they are considering questions like how to isolate a passenger should they become infected with COVID-19 and how to stock ships with medical and disinfecting supplies.

The current projected cruise line start dates are currently based on a "No-Sail" order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is due to last until July 24.