At the helm of the world’s largest cruise line, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley leads a global team of more than 50,000 employees that delivers memorable cruise vacations to more than five million international guests on a fleet of 26 ships sailing to more than 240 destinations.
Bayley is responsible for the cruise line’s entire operation, in addition to its private destinations, including Labadee, Haiti, and Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas – the first in a series of private island destinations around the world known as Perfect Day Island Collection. A key focus of his is to inspire teams to deliver the unrivaled and award-winning Royal Caribbean International vacation experience of innovation and excellence from ship to shore.
It’s under Bayley’s leadership that Royal Caribbean International continues to grow. He most recently oversaw the introduction of two new innovative ships in 2021 and 2022 – Odyssey of the Seas and the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, respectively. There are four additional ships under construction and on order, including the entirely new Icon Class. Bayley is integral to the development of innovations with each new private destination and ship introduced by the cruise line, which is a leader in inspiring an active style of cruising and known for creating unexpected, industry-first concepts – from rock climbing walls and ice skating rinks to surfing and skydiving.
Bayley’s responsibilities also include key operations for Royal Caribbean Group, the cruise line’s parent company. He oversees the corporation’s major focus on the digital transformation of its business as well as its destination and port development, consisting of various ongoing projects in different stages around the world.
Within the cruise industry, Bayley is recognized as a thought leader and proponent of partnership across governments, cruise lines and trade organizations. He serves as a committee member for Cruise Lines International Association’s esteemed Global Executive Committee as well as the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, an organization focused on building cooperative relationships with partner destinations.
The president and CEO began his 40-year career in 1981 as an assistant purser on the cruise line’s m.s. Nordic Prince. In his 10 years at sea, he worked in a variety of positions, each with increasing responsibility. His success led him to become vice president of Total Guest Satisfaction, Fleet Operations; senior vice president of Hotel Operations and Onboard Revenue; and later as executive vice president of Operations, overseeing marine, hotel, tour and ground operations, and commercial development. He spent time based in Europe as chairman and managing director of Island Cruises, a joint venture between First Choice Holidays, a leading U.K. tour operator, and Royal Caribbean International. Bayley also once served as vice president at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The industry veteran has pioneered the concept of cruising in emerging markets across the globe. In 2008, as executive vice president of International Sales and Marketing at Royal Caribbean International, Bayley opened offices in 11 countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia, and was instrumental in opening and developing the China market. He was named president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises in 2012 and was responsible for improving the line’s overall financial performance when he expanded the vacation offering to guests in the premium segment. He then became president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International in 2014.