Two-thirds of all Royal Caribbean Group bookings for 2021 during the last quarter (Q3, three months to 30 September) were new bookings, the group has revealed.
The group had $1.8 billion in customer deposits on its books as of 30 September, and stressed in a trading update on Thursday (29 October) that bookings for the first half of 2021 aligned with what the company’s anticipates to be a "staggered resumption" in cruising.
It also said bookings for sailings scheduled for H2 2021 fell within historical ranges, albeit at prices "down slightly year-on-year" when factoring in bookings made with future cruise credits (FCC).
"Since our last business update, more than 65% of the 2021 bookings are new," said the group. This is up from 60% in Q2 (three months to 30 June).
Royal further revealed about 50% of the $1.8 billion it currently holds in deposits are FCCs, $180 million of which relate to sailings scheduled for Q4 2020.
Additionally, around half of guests booked on cancelled sailings have requested cash refunds.
Looking ahead, the group said that while it couldn’t offer either a near or longer-term financial or operational outlook, it expected to incur a net loss both in Q4 and for its 2020 fiscal year.
It comes as the group on Thursday reported a $1.3 billion Q3 loss, which is attributed the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on efforts to resume cruise operations – particularly in the US.
Royal’s operations since the onset of Covid-19 have, to date, been limited to three vessels from Tui Cruises and two from Hapag-Lloyd in July, and one Silversea ship in September.
It has, however, received approval from the government of Singapore to resuming cruising in December.
These cruises will likely take place on Quantum of the Seas at reduced guest capacity, and under enhanced health protocols developed in collaboration with local health authorities in Singapore.
Royal has been working with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to develop a range of new "science-backed" health and safety protocols to allow cruising to resume; to date, the joint Healthy Sail Panel has made 74 recommendations across five specific areas of focus.
These recommendations were submitted to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month.
"The work of the Healthy Sail Panel has been thorough and comprehensive – we are grateful for its enormous dedication and passion, which has resulted in what has quickly become the seminal document in this arena," said Royal Caribbean Group chairman and chief executive, Richard Fain.
“We understand the importance of getting this right, and are preparing to put these plans to the test with a gradual and methodical return to service in the near future.”
The group has also taken additional steps to boost its liquidity, including raising another $1.15 billion this month and securing access to a new $700 million financing facility, with the company still expecting to burn through $250 million to $290 million a month while its operations are suspended.
As of 30 September, Royal had liquidity of approximately $3.7 billion, down from $4.1 billion at the end of June (Q2).
“We continue to aggressively manage our spend and take opportunistic actions to bolster our financial position," said Royal executive vice-president and chief financial officer, Jason Liberty.
“Moreover, we are optimistic that with the gradual resumption of cruise operations, our cash flow from operations will sequentially improve, driven by an increase in the inflow of customer deposits.”