By Marek Grzybowski
Jason Liberty was appointed by the Board of Directors as Chairman of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in January of this year. CLIA, the leading association of the cruise industry. Jason Liberty is president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.
A passenger growth of 106% was achieved in 2023 compared to 2019 levels, according to estimates. Approximately 31.5 million passengers boarded passenger ships in 2023. There should be about 35 million passengers in 2024 – CLIA forecasts optimistically.
“On behalf of the CLIA community of ocean, river and specialty cruise lines, suppliers, business partners, travel advisors and agencies, I would like to congratulate Mr. Liberty on his appointment as CLIA Chair,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises SA, who served as president of CLIA from January 2021.
Liberty takes the lead of the marine tourism business at a time when the industry has caught wind and recovered from its collapse during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, sea cruises became one of the fastest growing sectors of tourist services.
“We are building on the momentum of growing demand and our members are pursuing ambitious sustainability initiatives in their pursuit of achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA.
“Jason Liberty is an extremely versatile and strategic leader who will help us capitalize on the maritime travel renaissance and realize our global operational ambitions. I would also like to thank Mr. Vago for his leadership as CEO over the past three years, navigating challenging times and laying a solid foundation for the industry’s future growth, Ms. Craighead said.
CEO of Royal Caribbean
Liberty became president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group in early 2022 after a nearly two-decade career in the cruise industry and many years as the company’s chief financial officer.
Last year, it delivered huge profits to the Group’s operations. Royal Caribbean (NYSE: RCL) became one of the best-performing marine tourism companies in 2023.
Under his leadership, the Group achieved global revenues of USD 13.9 billion in 2023, net income amounted to USD 1.7 billion. This provided $6.31 per share. Adjusted net income was $1.8 billion, or $6.77 per share, and adjusted EBITDA was $4.5 billion.
The group operates three industry-leading brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea. These are operators known for actively introducing innovations in their market segments. The Group is also associated with joint ventures in the German companies TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, in which Royal Caribbean is a 50% shareholder.
Based on projected market dynamics, 2024 adjusted EPS is expected to be $9.50-$9.70.
An icon on the ocean with the participation of a Polish shipyard
Let us remind you that Icon of the Seas, the first of three mega cruise ships (about 7,000 passengers) introduced to the market by Royal Caribbean, is already sailing on the oceans. This unit was built in the Finnish Meyer Turku shipyard. The fully equipped hull elements for this unit were manufactured in the CRIST shipyard docks in Gdynia.
CRIST has built a fully equipped block 94 m long, 48 m wide and 15 m high. This is part of deck 3. Since the engines will be powered by gas, two LNG tanks were installed in the block.
The complete hull weighed about 5,200 tons, and the equipment weighed about 2,500 tons. The ship is already sailing and is causing a sensation in every port, because today it is the largest and luxuriously equipped ship with many different attractions, which we write about here.
Jason Liberty on the global business ocean
“I am excited and honored to lead this organization as we enter a new era of cruises. As consumer demand continues to grow, we are increasing our commitment to decarbonization and sustainability, ensuring that we not only invest in our oceans and communities, but also protect them for future generations of travelers, Liberty said.
The new chairman of the Board of Directors emphasized: “I look forward to working with CLIA’s leadership and our partners around the world to further position cruise ship vacations as an accessible and responsible option for today’s travelers that creates positive impacts around the world.”
The CLIA Council Chair leads the CLIA Global Executive Committee and Board of Directors. These bodies are responsible for setting the general direction of the association’s business strategies on behalf of cruise line members representing 95% of the world’s ocean and river cruise operators.
Great emphasis is placed on ensuring that this business takes into account expectations related to the protection of the marine environment and ports. Attention is paid to shaping the ecological awareness of tourists traveling by ship. It is also about this business providing local communities with the opportunity to participate in global projects of tour operators.
“As part of CLIA’s long-term strategy, the organization’s members have set ambitious sustainability goals,” CLIA says in a press release, emphasizing that each year the CLIA member fleet becomes more and more efficient.
Operators operating under CLIA introduce new technologies and innovations on ships. The use of alternative fuels is becoming more and more common on cruise ships.
CLIA emphasizes that it represents an important sector and has a strong position in the global cruise line industry. It acts on behalf of cruise operators and companies related to the maritime tourism industry that belong to the association, including: suppliers, business partners and a strong community of agents, insurance companies and tour operators.
Photos: Marek Grzybowski, Royal Caribbean