College Game Plan

Royal Caribbean CEO: College taught me the right way to protest

Key Points
  • Richard Fain, the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., chose the University of California, Berkeley because it was as "far as I could get" from the East Coast.
  • It was student activism on campus that shaped his career as a leader.
This CEO went across America to go to his dream school

It's no surprise that the head of one of the world's largest cruise line operators wanted to travel far when it was time for college.

"It was my dream," Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said of his decision to enroll at the University of California, Berkeley.

The 69-year-old Fain, who was born in Boston and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, surrounded by family, said he craved something different.

"California was about as far away as I could get from the East Coast. It felt good to me as a young, rebellious man," he said.

"I made my choice more on emotion than on any scientific analysis."

His undergraduate experience outside the classroom was affected by the California sun and sea and the free speech movement in the 1960s.

Of the student activism on campus at the time, Fain says he learned an important lesson about how to work together to accomplish great things. "I really saw the value of working with other people." he said. "If people really do work toward a common goal, nothing stops them."

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After graduating with a B.S. in economics, Fain went on to get an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business. He became CEO of the cruise line company in 1988. Royal Caribbean has grown tremendously since then, with nearly 50 ships that travel to over 500 destinations.

Going forward, Fain says he sees smooth sailing, as shares, which stand at an all-time high, continue to outperform on average the S&P 500.