Royal Caribbean Group’s cruise bookings are outpacing 2019 levels by a “very wide margin” according to President and CEO Jason Liberty, speaking on the company’s year end and fourth quarter earnings call.
“We expected a strong WAVE season, but what we are currently experiencing has exceeded all expectations even when considering our capacity growth,” Liberty said.
“The seven biggest booking weeks in our company’s history all occurred since our last earnings call,” he continued.
“Our commercial apparatus is full speed ahead, and all channels are delivering quality demand above 2019 levels. Our direct-to-consumer channels continue to perform exceptionally well as a combination of consumer preference for digital engagement and our enhanced capabilities is supporting record level bookings. We are also encouraged that our strong base of loyal travel partners continues to recover and supporting our brands with bookings above 2019 levels.”
The most demand is close-to-home he said, with 70 percent of capacity allocated to North American based sailings.
Compared to 2019, these cruises are booked at the same load factor but at higher prices, despite a company capacity increase of 14 percent when compared to 2019, which was the last normal year of cruise operations prior to the pandemic.
“Our 2023 European sailings are booked within historical ranges at better rates with recent bookings outpacing 2019 levels,” Liberty said.
“We expect almost 80% of our guests to come from North America as we continue to see particularly healthy demand from that region. Our global brand’s appeal and nimble sourcing models allow us to continuously shift sourcing to the highest-yielding guests.”