Deck chair on a cruise ship on the promenade deck. (photo via grandriver/Getty Images)
During a first-quarter 2022 business update, Carnival Corporation & plc officials revealed quarterly revenue was impacted by the Omicron variant, but bookings indicated a strong summer season.
Carnival Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald said that while the company missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue, he believes monthly adjusted EBITDA will turn positive at the beginning of the cruise company’s summer season.
Donald also announced weekly booking volumes for future sailings have improved since the middle of January, with recent numbers being higher than at any point since the restart of guest cruise operations.
“Given the recent strengthening in booking volumes coupled with the closer-in booking patterns, we expect an extended wave season,” Donald said. “In fact, we gained occupancy even in the month of March with fleetwide occupancy nearing 70 percent and several sailings already exceeding 100 percent.”
Carnival experienced an Omicron-related impact on bookings for its near-term sailings, including higher cancellations resulting from an increase in pre-travel positive test results and challenges in the availability of pre-travel tests.
While bookings were impacted, occupancy in the first quarter was 54 percent, a 20 percent increase in guests carried over the previous three months. Revenue per passenger cruise day also increased approximately 7.5 percent compared to a strong 2019, with the increase being driven by strong onboard and other revenue.
Donald revealed that 75 percent of Carnival’s capacity had resumed guest cruise operations and each brand expects to have its full fleet back for the summer season, where the company historically generates the largest share of its operating income.
Carnival also announced three additional ships are expected to leave the fleet in 2022, bringing the total number of smaller, less efficient vessels being removed to 22.
“Since resuming guest cruise operations, we delivered more than 2.2 million exceptional vacations while achieving historically high guest satisfaction scores,” Donald said. “With 75 percent of our capacity having resumed guest cruise operations, we are well on our way back to full cruise operations and we are planning to return the balance of the fleet by our summer seasons.”
“Achieving these operational milestones while facing headwinds including Delta and Omicron variants and changing regulations and protocols —particularly at our scale— makes the efforts of our team, ship and shore, all the more impressive,” Donald continued.