Richard Fain to Step Down as CEO of Royal Caribbean Group

After 33 years as CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, Richard Fain will be stepping down effective January 3, 2022. Chief financial officer Jason Liberty will succeed him as CEO and join the Board of Directors, the company announced Tuesday, November 9. Fain will remain as Chair of the Board of Directors.

Under Fain's leadership—the third-longest tenured CEO of current S&P 500 leaders—Royal Caribbean Group introduced new ship categories with a range of amenities and experiences. These ships include Royal Caribbean International's Sovereign, Voyager and Oasis classes, as well as its Icon class, to be introduced in 2023; Celebrity Cruises' Solstice and Edge classes; and Silversea Cruises' "Project Evolution" that will become the industry's first hybrid powered ship when introduced in 2023. Fain, working with Liberty, will continue his involvement in the Group's ship construction program.

Liberty joined the Royal Caribbean Group in 2005 and served in several financial, strategic and operational roles before becoming CFO in 2013. Liberty is also responsible for Silversea Cruises, the Group's joint ventures with TUI Cruises and Hapag Lloyd Cruises, as well as the Royal Caribbean Group's strategy, technology, supply chain, port operations and legal functions.

At the same time, the company announced that Naftali Holtz will become CFO when Liberty assumes the CEO role. Holtz is currently senior vice president of finance for the Royal Caribbean Group, responsible for corporate, capital and revenue planning and analysis, deployment planning, risk management and treasury.

Fain has steered the company through the global pandemic, and he was a driving force behind the creation of the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of health experts who established safety and wellness protocols to restore confidence in cruising safety. Fain said that he and Royal Caribbean Group’s Board of Directors had developed a careful succession planning.

"There are no words to express my admiration and appreciation to the people of the Royal Caribbean Group, who have been the real drivers of our success; and my profound appreciation for the support and guidance of the Board of Directors during good times and bad throughout this long period of sustained growth," Fain said in a press statement, noting that with most of the Group's ships operating, a full return to cruising approaching, and the Group's brands under the leadership of trusted CEOs, it was the right time to step down.

Fain also said that Liberty and Holtz "have done an exceptional job organizing over $12 billion of financing during this challenging period. They did so in a remarkably careful and methodical manner, which will serve us well in the years to come."

Bill Kimsey, lead director of the Groups’ Board, said that Liberty has played "a significant part in every major initiative the company has undertaken for many years, and he was instrumental in helping manage through the pandemic. The Board enthusiastically and unanimously chose him to be the Royal Caribbean Group's next CEO."

Said Liberty: “I'm grateful to both the board for selecting me, and to Richard, for his friendship, mentoring and guidance. I look forward to building upon the company's remarkable record in the years ahead." He added, "Naftali has demonstrated his ability to lead the finance organization and is well prepared to take on the important CFO role."

Related Stories

Bob Binder Moves From CEO of Oceania to Advisory Role With NCLH

Royal Caribbean Doubles Down With Support For Travel Advisors

Tauck Promotes Jeremy Palmer to Chief Operating Officer

Celebrity Apex Named in Port Everglades, Embarks on Sailings