Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman Discusses Cuba

Travel Weekly

Secaucus, New Jersey

1 May 2019 

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chairman Richard Fain told investors that the effect of an announced change in the U.S. policy toward Cuba was hard to determine.  In a teleconference call on first-quarter earnings, Fain commented on two Cuba-related questions. 

As far as the possible travel policy changes announced in a speech by national security advisor John Bolton in Miami on April 17, Fain said, "At this point, we don't know if there will be changes, what those changes will be or to what extent they would impact us."  Fain pointed out that only 3% of RCCL itineraries currently go to Cuba.  

Bolton's comments led some to believe that travel to Cuba will be further restricted, possibly including cruises, but until amendments to the rules are published by the U.S. Treasury, the travel rules remain as is. 

Fain also commented on the administration's changed stance towards enforcement of the Helms-Burton law regarding pre-Castro era ownership of property in Cuba. Fain said the change is likely to prompt litigation with companies that do business in Cuba. "We believe we have solid defenses and are not expecting to change our itineraries as a result," he said.  

4 June 2019

Bloomberg News reported: “Cruise lines were able to charge higher prices for trips to Cuba than to other destinations, increasing the island’s financial importance, according to Instinet analyst Harry Curtis.  He said the country accounts for about 4% of Norwegian’s capacity, as much as 3% for Royal Caribbean and 1% for Carnival. That [ending cruise ship operations to the Republic of Cuba] could wipe out 15 cents a share from Norwegian’s profit, he estimates. Royal Caribbean would lose 10 cents a share, while Carnival’s earnings stand to decrease by as much as 5 cents a share, he said.”