Royal Caribbean Cruise Bookings Surge Back to Pre-Omicron Levels

“In fact, in the last week of January, bookings returned to pre-Omicron levels, and we expect demand recovery to accelerate as the variant subsides,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, on the company’s year end and fourth quarter earnings call.

“With that in mind, we have extended our sales and marketing activities for a delayed and extended wave (season),” Liberty said. 

Royal Caribbean’s new CEO called 2022 a strong transitional year as the company brings the rest of its fleet into operations and approaches historical occupancy levels.

Among the highlights are two important new ships in the Wonder of the Seas for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Beyond for Celebrity Cruises.

“This is a key pillar to support our recovery,” Liberty noted. “New hardware is an important driver of quality demand, extraordinary customer experience and exceptional financial performance. And just as important, it improves our sustainability as these are innovative ships that are much more energy efficient.”

Michael Bayley, president and CEO of the Royal Caribbean International brand, said bookings were exceeding 2019 numbers.

“And as we moved into the fourth quarter of last year, our bookings started to exceed 2019 levels, both in volume and rate, and it was clear that everybody was in a vacation mode,” Bayley said.

Naftali Holtz, chief financial officer, added that cruise bookings were continuing to improve and the company had a blockbuster Black Friday.

“For the last several quarters, we have seen new bookings improve from one quarter to the next. Bookings in the fourth quarter continued this positive trajectory, culminating in our biggest-ever Black Friday and Cyber Weekend from the U.S. Bookings in the fourth quarter were up more than 75 percent compared to the third quarter,” he said.

“As we restarted our brand marketing programs in Q4, we generated strong demand to support the book of business for ’22 and ’23.

“As the Omicron variant began spreading in December, we experienced slower booking activity and higher near-term cancellations over the holiday period as many guests were testing positive before their cruise. But from the beginning of the year, we have seen meaningful week-over-week improvement in booking activity for both the first and the second half of ’22. Second half booking activity has been recovering at a faster pace. In addition to that, we have seen a rapid improvement in cancellations over the same period,” Holtz said.




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