As expected the numbers from Carnival Corporation look positive as it presented its fourth quarter. Carnival’s CEO Arnold Donald speaks of a significant ‘demand for our cruise product’ in the press briefing released by the company.
Posting significantly higher revenue per guest, higher bookings, and sailing with ships at almost maximum capacity, the fourth quarter has been a positive one for the biggest cruise company in the world. Investors undoubtedly appreciated the numbers; shortly after the market opened, the cruise stock went up significantly.
Good Couple of Months for Carnival Corp
The interview that Arnold Donald gave to Yahoo Finance just last week seemed to be a prelude to the good news that has been released today, December 20. Carnival Corporation is becoming healthier by the day.
Carnival Corporation, which owns and operates nine different cruise lines worldwide, of which eight are operating, had 50 ships operational on November 30, 61% of the total capacity. Since then, that number has only gone up. Since the first ships started operating in the Mediterranean last year, the company has welcomed more than 1.2 million guests onboard its ships.
Arnold Donald, the Carnival CEO, said the following: “Since resuming guest cruise operations, we have established effective protocols for COVID-19 and its variants and have returned 65,000 team members and 50 ships, all while delivering an exceptional guest experience to over 1.2 million guests and counting. And we have done that while honoring our commitment to strive for excellence in compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and well-being of everyone.”
Those numbers represent a giant leap compared to last year, when the news had been primarily negative. Although the company still posted a loss of $2 billion, fourth-quarter 2021 ended with $9.4 billion of liquidity and saw the company’s cash burn rate drop to $510 million, much lower than previous expectations.
Bookings, Capacity, and Onboard spending Performing Above Expectations
As expected and forecasted earlier in the year, the demand for cruises remains strong. Even though Omicron, and earlier the Delta variant of COVID-19, have had some impact, bookings remain above historical averages, at higher pricing than 2019.
At the same time, Carnival is also seeing guests spending more onboard its ships compared to earlier years. In the fourth quarter, the passenger per day spending sat 4% higher than the solid fourth quarter of 2019.
All this while there is still room onboard the ships. Occupancy onboard the ships increased steadily over the year, and ships are generally operating at 90%, up from 30-40% during the 1st and 2nd quarter.
Donald: “We achieved 4% higher revenue per passenger day in our fourth quarter compared to a strong fourth quarter of 2019, while at the same time ramping up occupancy and capacity. In fact, Carnival Cruise Line experienced another quarter of double-digit revenue growth per passenger day compared to 2019, operating at nearly 60% of its capacity while also improving occupancy, and is now approaching 90% occupancy levels in the month of December, which is a testament to the fundamental strength in demand for our cruise product.”
Despite the generally negative feelings that have surrounded the cruise industry since COVID-19 first appeared, it seems Carnival Corporation is turning the tide slowly but surely. The company has released a stream of good news events in recent months, a testament to the incredible demand for cruising and the belief that the industry will be making a full recovery much sooner than expected.
One area where the company traditionally struggled, the environment, has also seen a lot of improvements. Carnival Corporation is the only cruise company operating five LNG low-emission ships, while eleven ships are contracted in total.
The company’s climate change rating has been upgraded from C to B by the CDP, owing to the companies efforts in this area. Carnival has also been recognized recently as one of the World’s Best Employer’s and one of the World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies of 2021.
All that is on top of several new ships and initiatives rolled out recently, underlining the company’s success under CEO Arnold Donald. Rotterdam, Holland America Line’s newest ship, departed on its maiden voyage from Amsterdam recently.
Costa Cruises took delivery of its newest ship, Costa Toscana, powered by LNG. Carnival Cruise Line announced that its third Excel-class ship, Carnival Jubilee, will be delivered in 2023 and introduced Funderstruck, a new marketing campaign highlighting the heightened joy and fun experienced together on a Carnival cruise.
With several ships scheduled for release in the next year, and plans to have the entire fleet operational by spring 2022, the future is indeed looking bright again for the world’s biggest cruise company.