Royal Caribbean CEO says company’s global talent pool helped it avoid U.S. staffing challenges

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Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain told CNBC on Friday that his company hasn’t suffered much from U.S. staffing challenges because the cruise line leans on a global talent pool.

In an interview on “The Exchange,” Fain said jobs at Royal Caribbean are “so desirable” to overseas workers that recruitment is easy, at a time when other companies in the hospitality-related industries have struggled to fill open roles.

“We really had essentially no problem in attracting … talent,” Fain said. “The people that provide service are what makes the company so successful. They are the ones that the guests love.”

“We’ve had no difficulty recruiting and … I think it’s because we’re just seen as such an attractive job for people all over the world,” he said.

The cruise industry was brought to a halt by the Covid pandemic, forcing Royal Caribbean and rival operators to turn to the debt market to stay afloat. In its third-quarter earnings release earlier Friday, Royal Caribbean reported having $19.88 billion in long-term debt.

However, Fain said the company is “in the process of reducing” its debt load and has recently cut part of its more expensive debt with a goal to eliminate all pandemic-associated debt within the next two years.

Royal Caribbean resumed sailings from U.S. ports this summer after a prolonged Covid pause. “Bookings this year continued to be weak,” Fain acknowledged, adding they will be stronger around the holidays later this year, as is typical.

“But next year the bookings are remarkably strong,” Fain said.

Shares of Royal Caribbean are basically flat Friday afternoon after the company missed Wall Street expectations in its quarterly results.

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