Royal Caribbean Aims at August Cruise Re-Launch

Cruise lines are attempting to chart their path forward, but their return to the seas remains murky.

Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), currently burning roughly $375 million of cash a month, is attempting to get its ships back to sea as early as Aug. 1, but CEO Richard Fain suggested it’s a moving target.

"We’re not saying we’re confident we are starting on Aug. 1. We won’t come back until we’re sure we have done everything we can to work to protect the safety of our guests and crew," Fain told reporters on Thursday.

Carnival is also hoping to restart some sailings on Aug. 1.

Fain said Royal Caribbean continues to work with authorities and health officials to detail a crisis playbook to minimize the risk of another cruise ship getting stranded once sailing resumes.

Among the changes under discussion are doctors’ notes for passengers above the age of 70 to ensure they are medically fit, as well removing all-you-can-eat buffets, which have become a staple on nearly every cruise.

Summer is typically the peak season for the cruise industry, which is currently in survival mode following canceled voyages, high profile quarantines and criticism of its handling of COVID-19 outbreaks earlier this year.

With billions of dollars lost and cruise lines stocks down on average 60% this year, CEOs of the major cruise operators are fixated on resuming sailings while also redesigning the experience to make hygiene and safety a bigger priority.

RCL shares left port Friday up $1.06, or 2.4%, to $44.45