Revealed: How Much Cruise Companies Earn Per Passenger

How much money do cruise companies make per passenger? Well, after more than a yearlong pause due to the pandemic, cruise lines are back to sailing completely full on many routes and are seeing revenues per passenger set new marks as the public gets back to traveling.

And because many cruise lines fall under the umbrella of large public companies with shares that trade on the stock exchanges, we can get some insight. Every quarter the major cruise companies like Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. offer a glimpse into their business via public reports. These reports let us know just how much money cruising makes.

Let’s just say the figures are substantial. In the course of a year, a cruise company brings in billions of dollars in revenue and carries millions of passengers. So how exactly do the figures break down? Take a look…

Carnival Corporation Revenue Per Passenger

Carnival Corporation’s brands includes Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America (among others). Last year the company brought it more than $12 billion in revenue.

Carnival Corporation is the company behind some of the largest and most well-known cruise lines on the planet. Names like Costa, Princess, Holland America — and of course, Carnival Cruise Line — are all brands operated by the company.

As of its most recent annual filing, Carnival Corporation had a passenger capacity across its 91 ships of roughly 254,000 cabins. Carnival Cruise Line boasts the largest portion of those cabins, with more than 75,000 rooms across 24 ships as of November 2022 — or about 30% of total capacity for the company.

While 2022 was a rebound year for Carnival, it wasn’t quite all the way back. For instance, before the pandemic, the occupancy percentage across the fleet was routinely at 100% or more. (Occupancy of 100% means that there are an average of two passengers per cabin on a cruise.) In 2022, the occupancy rate came in at 75%. That’s lower, but still a sharp increase from the 56% for 2021 and rising steadily.

In total, the company saw revenue of $12.17 billion in 2022, or about $33.3 million per day. Carnival Corporation also carried 7.7 million passengers during the year. That comes out to revenue of $1,580.26 per passenger carried.

Carnival Corporation:

  • 2022 Revenue: $12.17 billion
  • 2022 Passengers Carried: 7.7 million
  • 2022 Revenue Per Passenger: $1,580.26
  • Source data

Royal Caribbean Group Revenue Per Passenger

Royal Caribbean Group is a major player in cruising, and includes popular lines like Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity.

When it comes to cruising, Royal Caribbean is one of the biggest in the industry. Parent company Royal Caribbean Group is the force behind Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea, TUI, and Hapag Lloyd.

When it comes to those brands, Royal Caribbean International is by far the largest, with roughly two dozen ships and about 90,000 berths. 

Similar to Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean has seen a sharp rebound in traffic as the pandemic has waned. In the full year 2022, occupancy was 85% overall. The company reports now that Caribbean sailings are reaching 100% with holiday sailings “close to 110%.”

In other words, the company is well on its way back to normalcy.

Overall, Royal Caribbean Group saw total revenue in 2022 of $8.84 billion, or about $24.2 million per day. The company carried 5.5 million passengers during the year. That comes out to revenue of $1,596.82 per passenger carried. This figure is in line with what’s seen for Carnival Corporation.

Royal Caribbean Group:

  • 2022 Revenue: $8.84 billion
  • 2022 Passengers Carried: 5.5 million
  • 2022 Revenue Per Passenger: $1,596.82
  • Source data

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Revenue Per Passenger

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is the smallest of the “big three” cruise companies, but also generates the most revenue per passenger.

The final of the “big three” public cruise companies is Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. While it is the smallest of the three major players, it’s no slouch. Brands include Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, and Oceania Cruises.

All told, the company operates 29 ships, with roughly 62,000 berths. That makes it roughly one-fourth the size of Carnival Corporation when it comes to capacity. However, the cruise company also focuses on higher pricing and more luxury, such as its newest ship — Norwegian Prima.

As of the time of this writing, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings had yet to release its full-year 2022 figures. However, we can still see how much it earns in revenue per passenger by studying statements through the first nine months of the year (ending September 30, 2022).

During that time, Norwegian saw total revenue of $3.3 billion, or about $9.1 million per day. The company carried 1.1 million passengers during the first nine months of the year. That comes out to $2,989.96 per passenger carried. And while there is some seasonality to cruise fares, this figure is roughly double what’s seen by Royal Caribbean Group and more than double Carnival Corporation.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.:

  • 2022 Revenue (through 9/30): $3.32 billion
  • 2022 Passengers Carried (through 9/30): 1.1 million
  • 2022 Revenue Per Passenger (through 9/30): $2,989.96
  • Source data

Visualizing the Data

It can be easier to compare the different cruise companies with a chart instead of just figures. Below, we’ve compared the different metrics for each company. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the data shown in this article represents the entire year for Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Group. However, at this time Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has only published data for the first nine months of 2022.

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