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All hands on deck as chief financial officer Jason Liberty takes over, but in which direction will he take the cruise line after the pandemic's choppy waters?

Richard Fain is to step down as CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, and will depart the cruise line on January 3, 2022, the company has announced.

Fain has held the role of CEO for 33 years, and will be replaced by chief financial officer Jason Liberty, who also joins the board of directors. Fain will remain as chair of the board of directors.

The departing CEO said that with most of the company’s ships now operating again, it was the right time to step down. “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,” he said.

His departure comes as the company suffered a blow from months of the surging delta variant. Last year, Fain also notoriously said that he thought it was possible to “make it so that you are safer on a cruise ship than you are on Main Street.”

Naftali Holtz, currently senior vice president of finance for the Royal Caribbean Group, replaces Liberty as chief financial officer

“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,” Royal Caribbean Group said in the statement.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates throughout the day.

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Tags: coronavirus, cruise industry, cruise lines, royal caribbean

Photo credit: Richard Fain served as CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group for 33 years. Royal Caribbean

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