Improved advance bookings for the first half of 2015 at higher prices have been reported by Carnival Corporation on the back of a better than expected summer quarter.

The cruise giant saw net profits rise to more than $1.2 billion in the three months to August 31 against $934 million in the same period last year as revenues rose to almost $5 billion.

President and chief executive Arnold Donald (pictured) said: “Strong close-in demand and higher onboard spending helped drive significantly better than expected third quarter results and 15% year-over-year earnings improvement.

“Our Asia operations performed particularly well during the quarter, driven by a double-digit yield increase in our China program, further solidifying our industry leading presence in this important emerging cruise market.

“Our continental European operations also enjoyed strong yield and profit improvement in the quarter, reflecting continued progress for the Costa brand.

“In addition, our summer Caribbean product successfully attracted nearly 20 percent more guests than the prior year, reinforcing the popularity of the world’s largest cruising region.”

The company reported that fleetwide bookings in the quarter for the first half of 2015 have been running ahead of the prior year at higher prices.

Donald said: “The sustained improvement in booking trends as we have progressed through the year combined with yield increases in the second half of 2014 builds confidence that we will see continued yield growth in 2015 and beyond.”

New product initiatives and innovative marketing campaigns across the brands over the past year are driving the improvement in consumer demand and pricing trends, he added.

Arnold also revealed plans to install new air emissions technology as well as other technology designed to improve fuel efficiency next year.

The company expects the exhaust gas cleaning system or ‘scrubber’ technology will be installed on about 70% of its fleet by 2016.

This will enable it to meet stricter air emissions standards due to be imposed from next year as well as mitigate escalating fuel costs that will result from the new requirements.

The new regulations will result in higher fuel costs in 2015, with the increase expected to be reduced by half in 2016 and mostly offset in 2017.

“Our implementation of the air emissions technology is a sound investment in our company’s future and more importantly it will benefit the environment for years to come,” said Donald.

“These technology investments are laying a solid foundation towards sustainable earnings improvement. Combined with our other strategic initiatives designed to foster revenue growth and contain costs, we are gaining momentum towards our goal of achieving double digit returns on investment over time.”