Thu | May 13, 2021

Carnival cruise line sees rise in bookings

Published:Friday | April 9, 2021 | 12:12 AM

Cruise giant Carnival Corp said on Wednesday that it lost US$2 billion in the first quarter as its corner of the travel industry was still trying to overcome the lockdowns under the pandemic.

Carnival said, however, that bookings have begun to pick up recently, and 2022 could be a strong year for cruises.

Shares of the Miami-based company gained in early trading on Wednesday, indicating that investors were much more concerned with where the company is going than where it has been.

Carnival has either resumed service of plans to set sail by this summer with nine ships in six of its nine brands. Costa Cruises expects to resume sailing in Italy in May, and the Princess, Cunard and P&O lines plan trips in the United Kingdom this summer.

The huge American market remains off limits, however, as cruise companies squabble with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over details of health measures.

Carnival said bookings during the quarter ran about 90 per cent higher than in the previous three months, and that as of March 21, cumulative bookings for 2022 sailings were ahead of the 2019 pace despite limited advertising. The company said it has US$2.2 billion in customers’ deposits, mostly for future cruise credits, helping offset the payment of refunds.

Carnival said it expects to burn through about US$550 million of cash a month through to June, which it said is better than previously expected.

The company has removed 19 ships from its fleet and made cuts in on-shore operations to save money. It has also gone deeper into debt, with US$5 billion in borrowings, new unsecured notes and a US$1-billion stock offering since December.

On a per-share basis, the Miami-based company said it had a loss of $1.80. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to $1.79 per share.

The first-quarter results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of US$1.66 per share.

The cruise operator posted revenue of $26 million in the period, which also missed forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected US$108 million.

Carnival shares have climbed 34 per cent since the beginning of the year, while the S&P’s 500 index has climbed almost nine per cent. The stock has more than doubled in the last 12 months.

– AP