Since cruises began sailing again almost exactly one year ago, the return has been one marked by hurdle after hurdle. From new protocols to additional variant waves to high fuel prices and inflation, the ramp-up of sailing has been anything but smooth for the industry.
That’s led to perhaps a longer delay in the return to pre-pandemic levels, but one that always seems right on the horizon.
Case in point: In a quarterly update today, Carnival Corporation — parent of Carnival Cruise Line, Princess, Holland America Line and others — announced that it had a net loss of $1.8 billion for the three months that ended May 31. And for the past six months, those losses are more than $3.7 billion.
However, despite those losses, there are significant positives for the cruise company. First, as it returns to sailing, Carnival Corporation says that 91% of its ship capacity is back sailing with passengers. In fact, five of its nine brands have their entire fleet back sailing.
As for occupancy, across all shops and all fleets, occupancy in the most recent quarter was 69%, which is up from 54% in the prior quarter. In other words, more ships are now sailing with more passengers.
Nowhere is that more obvious than with Carnival Cruise Line, the company’s namesake brand. The company expects its occupancy to be more than 100% soon.
“Carnival Cruise Line also became our first brand to sail its entire fleet in May and is expecting occupancy to approach 110% during our third quarter,” said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald.
A ship achieves 100% capacity when all cabins have at least two people. When a third passenger is added to some rooms, it can drive occupancy to greater than 100%.
In that context, it’s not surprising that the cruise company recently announced plans to move three ships from its Costa Cruises brand to Carnival Cruise Line.
Costa Luminosa, Costa Venezia, and Costa Firenze will move to Carnival in 2022, 2023, and 2024, respectively. In addition, newbuilds in Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee are coming to the cruise line soon, dramatically increasing capacity even more.
In addition to the rising occupancy rates, Carnival Corporation increased revenue by “nearly 50%” in the second quarter versus first quarter 2022. For comparison, in 2019 — before the pandemic — revenue rose about 3.5% between the first and second quarter.
Carnival Corporation also said that it is seeing its highest booking volumes since the start of the pandemic.
“Booking volumes for all future sailings during the second quarter of 2022 were nearly double the booking volumes during the first quarter of 2022; the company notes these were its best quarterly booking volumes since the beginning of the pandemic, albeit still below 2019 levels,” said a press release.
Bottom line: The return cruising has been met with challenge after challenge, which has made the recovery take longer than likely many were planning. Even so, there are signs of progress — including more people on your next cruise.