Shares in Carnival Corporation soared to a record high yesterday as the cruise giant revealed that 2017 forward bookings are outpacing last year at “considerably higher” prices.

The world’s largest cruise line conglomerate said booking volumes and pricing for the remainder of 2017 were running ahead of last year during the crucial first quarter of the year wave peak booking period.

President and chief executive, Arnold Donald, said: “Wave season, our peak booking period, was strong leaving us well positioned with bookings at considerably higher prices and with less inventory remaining for sale in 2017 compared to the prior year, resulting in increased earnings guidance.

“We are clearly benefiting from our efforts to increase cruise consideration through guest experience innovations, creative marketing, and public relations programmes.

“We are reaching consumers through multiple touch points and laying the foundation for continued earnings improvement and sustained double digit returns on invested capital.”

The parent company of brands such as UK-based P&O Cruises and Cunard revealed first quarter income up to $352 million from $142 million in the same period last year as revenue climbed to $3.8 billion from $3.7 billion.

Donald said: “We are off to a good start delivering another quarter of operational improvement on top of a very strong first quarter last year.

“Our performance was driven by increased demand, particularly for our core Caribbean itineraries, leading to higher year-over-year ticket prices which enabled us to overcome the significant negative impact of both fuel and currency to exceed the high end of our guidance range.”

First quarter highlights including the release of the Ocean Platform breakthrough featuring Ocean Medallion wearable technology which will be introduced on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess in November, followed by additional Princess ships in 2018.

Fleet enhancement milestones included the launch of Seabourn Cruises’ Seabourn Encore.

The company signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in the quarter to build new ships for Holland America Line to be delivered in 2021 and Princess Cruises in 2022.

Also, Carnival Cruise Line received approval to begin operating cruises to Cuba. Carnival Paradise will be the largest cruise ship to sail to Cuba from the US when it begins calling in Havana in June.