Carnival sees sales dip but claims trading remains strong

The world’s largest cruise group Carnival Corporation saw a dip in first quarter profits yet claimed to have seen a “solid” peak wave booking period.

Net profits were down to $152 million in the three months to the end of February from $175 million recorded in the same period a year earlier.

Revenues rose in the quarter to $3.4 billion from $3.2 billion in the first quarter of 2010. Chairman and chief executive Micky Arison indicated that earnings in the first quarter 2011 were at the high end of the company’s December guidance due to lower than expected unit costs which offset higher than expected fuel prices.

“Net revenue yields increased 2% driven by a significant improvement in ticket prices for our European brands. We remained focused on managing costs and reducing fuel consumption. All of which more than offset rising fuel prices during the quarter.”

Booking volumes and prices since January for the remaining three quarters of the group’s financial year are running higher than the prior year, the operator said.

“At this point in time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of the year are at higher prices with slightly lower occupancies versus last year,” Carnival said.

Arison added: “Despite the uncertain world events that have unfolded during our peak booking period, we have experienced a solid wave season. Ticket prices for the peak summer season remain particularly strong.

“The convenience and affordability of a cruise vacation continues to gain recognition as consumers discover the unrivalled experience cruising offers.

“As a result, long-term fundamentals for our business remain attractive in an environment where consumers increasingly value the importance of taking their holidays.”

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