The tourism industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and cruise lines are no exception. In fact, they appeared particularly vulnerable to outbreaks early on in the crisis, and sailings stopped around the world. These groundings led to an 80 percent revenue drop and $4 billion in losses for Norwegian Cruise Line, one of the largest cruise companies in the world, The Wall Street Journal reports. Yet, at the same time, CEO Frank Del Rio's compensation doubled to $36.4 million, a Journal analysis of executive pay in 2020 found.
The increase was in part driven by bonuses tied a three-year contract extension, a Norwegian Cruise spokesman said, adding that Del Rio's pay included amounts related to the effects of the pandemic and a U.S. government decision to halt travel to Cuba. "We believe these changes were in the best interests of the company and secured Mr. Del Rio's continued invaluable expertise," the spokesman told the Journal. "Our management team took quick, decisive action to reduce costs, conserve cash, raise capital." He said that a plan to relaunch the company's fleet is underway, as well.
To be clear, Del Rio is not an outlier. Pay rose in 2020 for 206 of the 322 CEOs in the Journal's analysis, and the median pay for the executives in that group jumped to $13.7 million last year from $12.8 million in 2019. While it's true that many CEOs took salary cuts during the pandemic, the Journal notes that much of their pay is tied to bonuses or equity, so they were still able to reel in a lot of money when the stock market rebounded. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.