Royal Caribbean sees upbeat 2024 profit on strong booking trends

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. File photo: Royal Caribbean logo and stock graph are seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File photo

(Reuters) -Royal Caribbean Group projected annual profit above Wall Street expectations on Thursday on strong demand for cruise vacations and steeper itinerary prices.

With travelers opting for cruises instead of more expensive land-based vacation options, operators are experiencing record levels of bookings compared to pre-pandemic levels, giving them enough room to mark up ticket prices.

“2023 was an exceptional year, propelled by unmatched demand for our brands from new and loyal guests,” said CEO Jason Liberty. “With the wind in our sails and record-breaking bookings, 2024 is poised to be another robust year.”

The cruise operator’s fourth quarter revenue rose nearly 28% to $3.33 billion, falling slightly short of analysts’ forecast of $3.36 billion, according to LSEG data.

Shares of the Miami, Florida-based company, which recently launched the largest cruise ship in the world, were up 1% before the bell.

The cruise company said occupancy in the fourth quarter was higher than that of the same period in 2022.

Rival Carnival (NYSE:) on Tuesday said that the first half of 2024 was almost fully booked and that it had seen an “early and robust” start to the wave season, a period that stretches from January through March where cruise operators offer great deals to travelers.

Royal Caribbean (NYSE:) also said on Thursday that the wave season was off to a record start.

The company forecast 2024 adjusted profit between $9.50 and $9.70 per share, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $9.19 per share.

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