Skift Take

Younger travelers are making waves on Royal Caribbean Group cruises, steering the company’s post-pandemic growth.

Some cruise stereotypes are going overboard as Royal Caribbean Group executives witness a boost in younger travelers.

During Royal Caribbean’s first-quarter earnings call, President and CEO Jason Liberty said nearly half of the company’s cruise guests are millennials or younger. The demographic gained 11 percentage points of share compared to 2019.

Liberty attributed some of Royal Caribbean’s exclusive destinations — like Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas — to this growth.

“One of the incredible things that we’re seeing out of destinations like Perfect Day — and we’ll see this in the Royal Beach Club in Nassau — is how it’s drawing in new-to-cruise (passengers) and millennials,” Liberty said.

Destination as the Driver

Executives said that Caribbean sailings remain most popular, hitting 55% of Royal Caribbean’s deployment for this year. Royal Caribbean International, one of the company’s brands, will also dispatch its upcoming Utopia of the Seas ship to the Caribbean. The ship intends to rival land-based vacations, all while seizing demand for private destinations, such as Perfect Day.

“Utopia is not by accident,” said Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International president and CEO. “Utopia is sailing out of Port Canaveral… It really is another product that’s squarely in this competitive space of (land-based) vacations, and we’re seeing huge demand.”

Royal Caribbean is leaning into exclusivity. The company just broke ground on its new Royal Beach Club Paradise Island in Nassau, slated to open in 2025. Royal Beach Club in Cozumel is expected to open in 2026.

Europe trails behind the Caribbean, fulfilling nearly a quarter of Royal Caribbean’s capacity in the summer. Despite changes in Israel and Red Sea itineraries, Royal Caribbean executives were confident in European bookings.

“We are currently booked nicely ahead of last year in both rate and volume,” Royal Caribbean CFO Naftali Holtz said.

As Royal Caribbean returns to its Chinese market this month — preparing to bring a second ship next year — the company is also deploying other ships to Alaska.

More Early Birds

Royal Caribbean announced its strongest wave season yet. The period lasts from January through March, when cruises usually post their best early offers for the year. The first quarter’s net income was $360 million, following losses early last year. Total revenues reached $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion.

While customers who prebook skew a bit younger, Liberty said Royal Caribbean’s digital traction is steady across demographics. Customers arrange onboard activities earlier compared to last year, engaging in 10% more experiences per booking.

The Royal Caribbean mobile app attracts 94% of guests, according to Liberty. The app now allows both cruise and flight bookings.

“Our journey to deepen the relationship with the customer continues this year,” Liberty said. “We are removing friction and unlocking travel planning by investing in a modern digital travel platform, making it easier than ever for guests to book their dream vacations, while allowing us to expand wallet share.”

Cruise and Tours Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of cruise and tours sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets including both cruise lines and tour operators.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more cruise and tours sector financial performance.

Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: alaska, bahamas, caribbean, celebrity cruises, china, cruise, cruise earnings, cruise industry, cruise lines, earnings, europe, israel, israel-hamas war, Post Pandemic Recovery, red sea, royal caribbean, royal caribbean cruises, silversea

Photo credit: Utopia of the Seas rendering. Source: Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean International

Up Next

Loading next stories