Royal Caribbean Group has seen a “surge” in bookings for its cruise brands as the industry’s restart gathers momentum around the world.
The company, which owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises, said new bookings in the second quarter of 2021 were 50% higher than during the first three months of the year.
This momentum continued into June with 90% more bookings each week compared to the first quarter of 2021, with sales of “a similar magnitude” for both 2021 and 2022 departures.
Chief executive Richard Fain said: “The surge in bookings has been extremely encouraging, especially for 2022 and beyond. The return of cruising has been faster than anyone expected, and we are excited to gradually restart our presence in our key markets.
“We are watching the impact of the Delta variant and other likely variants, but overall, we remain optimistic in our mounting trajectory going forward. People also book their cruises long in advance, so we are concentrating on maintaining our price levels while growing our load factors.”
The increase in new bookings is also illustrated by the increase in customer deposits to $2.4 billion at the end of June – up by $530 million from 31 March. While only 40% of these deposits relate to future cruise credits (FCCSs) from cancelled cruises, down from 45% of the total in the previous quarter.
Chief financial officer Jason Liberty added: “As we look forward, there is very positive momentum with our ships resuming operations and a healthy demand environment.
“We are very optimistic with our accelerated start in the US and globally. We anticipate 80% of our fleet to be back in service by year-end delivering the world’s best vacations.”
The company is already operating 29 ships and 42% of total capacity across all brands, which will rise to 36 ships and more than 60% of capacity by the end of August.
Despite the improved outlook, Royal Caribbean Group made a loss of $1.3 billion for the second quarter, compared with a loss of $1.6 billion for the same period in 2020. The company’s average monthly “cash burn” was around $330 million between April and June.
Royal Caribbean Group said it expected to make a net loss during 2021 but the scale of this deficit would “depend on many factors including the timing and extent of the return to service”.