Independence of the Seas in Southampton photo by Dave Jones.
Royal Caribbean Cruises’ boss has moved to dispel concerns that the UK cruise industry faces a bleak future amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
Royal Caribbean International last week cancelled Independence of the Seas’ 2020 UK season and announced the ship would operate out of Florida instead to meet the demand for Perfect Day in CocoCay, the line’s new private island in the Bahamas.
The decision left some agents to question whether a soft UK market due to Brexit had prompted the decision – rather than a soaring interest in the $250 million private island which will be served by 11 Royal ships this year.
Speaking on Celebrity Edge’s maiden ex-UK sailing from Southampton on Monday, Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ chairman and chief executive, said: “We are here for the long term, we are not here for the current climate.
“There is no doubt that the UK market will do very well in the long-term and it continues to be our second largest market. We have been here when it has gone through cycles. The cruise industry is not fickle – it is solid and consistent.”
Fain admitted there was “a modicum of uncertainty” in the UK market as confusion continued over when Britain would leave the EU.
But he added that Royal Caribbean International had to move more capacity to North America due to “an extraordinary surge in interest” in Perfect Day, which launched just over a week ago.
“This is a wonderful problem to have,” he said, adding: “That we don’t have enough ships to satisfy the [customer] demand.”
Plans to expand the existing Perfect Day site were being looked at, said Fain. Only a third of the island is currently being used by Royal Caribbean to accommodate passengers.
Fain also added: “We look at the UK market as more than just ships sailing out of the UK. One of the reasons why the UK market has been so attractive to us is Brits are amazing travellers.”
Sailings in the eastern Mediterranean represented “a great opportunity” for Britons looking for fly-cruise options away from the UK, Fain said.