Royal Caribbean remains optimistic about 2022 demand — but it's clear both the Delta variant and lagging vaccinations in Caribbean ports of call will continue to stall the recovery of big cruise.
Royal Caribbean Group on Wednesday flagged a modest hit to cruise bookings from the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and said the demand for next year was rising on hopes of a recovery in global tourism.
Shares fell about 2% in premarket trading after the company, which operates the biggest cruise ships in the world, reported a bigger quarterly loss than expected.
Cruise operators resumed sailing from U.S. ports in June with mostly vaccinated passengers and crew on limited capacity following lengthy talks with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about health and safety protocols.
The resumption came more than a year after operations were suspended, but a few on-board cases in recent weeks and rising Delta variant infections in U.S. states have raised worries that a rebound for the cruise industry could be delayed.
Royal Caribbean said weekly bookings in June jumped about 90% compared to the first three months of the year and prices for 2022 voyages were up compared to the record highs of 2019.
In total, 36 ships from Royal Caribbean’s five cruise lines, or about 60% of its fleet, have either resumed sailing or will restart by Aug. 31, the company said. It expects to have 80% of its capacity in service by 2021 end.
The company reported an adjusted net loss of $1.3 billion, or $5.06 per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, bigger than $4.39 loss estimated by analysts, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Total revenue fell 71% to $50.9 million.
(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)
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Photo credit: Royal Caribbean reported a fall in bookings as a result of Delta variant, but confirmed that demand remains high for 2022. David Spinks / Flickr Commons