Richard Fain to Step Down as CEO of Royal Caribbean Group

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Richard Fain is stepping down as CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group. However, Fain will continue as chair of the Board of Directors, and stepping into the CEO role will be Jason Liberty, current CFO. January 3, 2022 will be Fain’s last day as CEO.

During his time of more than 33 years as CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, Fain helped shape the modern cruise industry from ship design to sustainability efforts and technologies that enriched the onboard experience. He is the third-longest serving CEO among the current S&P 500 leaders. Under Fain’s leadership, Royal Caribbean Group introduced new ship categories, and offered a diverse range of amenities and experiences that aided in shaping what the cruise industry is today.

These ships include Royal Caribbean International’s Sovereign, Voyager and Oasis classes; Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice and Edge classes; the anticipated Royal Caribbean International Icon class to be introduced in 2023; and Silversea Cruises’ Project Evolution that will become the industry’s first hybrid powered ship when introduced in 2023. Fain will continue his involvement in the Group’s ship construction program while working with Liberty.

“Richard has been a visionary leader, who has made innumerable and remarkable contributions to our company and our industry,” said Bill Kimsey, lead director of the Board, in a press statement. “Most recently, his stewardship during the COVID pandemic marks him as one of the great CEOs of his generation. The cruising community and all of us in the company owe him a debt of gratitude.”

In addition, 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 renowned health experts who established safety and wellness protocols to restore confidence in cruising safety.

“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,” said Fain.

“Given the great depth and breadth of our leadership, and the positive outlook for our business, this is the appropriate time to step aside and have Jason take over,” Fain said. “He is a highly versatile and strategic leader, who has been integral to all aspects of the company’s accomplishments and performance.”

richard fain
Jason Liberty. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean Group.)

Stepping in as CEO, Liberty joined Royal Caribbean Group in 2005 and has 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.

In addition, the company also announced that Naftali Holtz will step into the role of CFO when Liberty becomes CEO. Holtz is currently senior vice president of finance for the Royal Caribbean Group, and is responsible for corporate, capital, and revenue planning and analysis, deployment planning, risk management, and treasury.

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.”

“Our success as a business has relied heavily on our culture and on the values we hold dear,” said Fain. “Jason epitomizes those values, and I know he will work to build on them in this ever changing world. I couldn’t be happier to have such a superbly qualified and principled leader succeed me as CEO. Jason will lead the Group to new heights.”

Kimsey noted 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.”

Of his new role, Liberty said he was honored and humbled to become CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group. “Our incredible people and culture, combined with our leading brands and the most innovative fleet in the world are what make our organization so successful. 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.”

Liberty continued, “Naftali has demonstrated his ability to lead the finance organization and is well prepared to take on the important CFO role.”


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