Royal Caribbean Group predicts ‘triple digit’ load factors by year-end

Royal Caribbean Group expects ship load factors to increase by as much as 20% during the second quarter and hit “triple digits” by the end of 2022 as the cruise sector continues its recovery from the pandemic.

Speaking during a quarterly financial results call last week, chief financial officer Naftali Holtz confirmed the company planned to operate 10.3 million available passenger cruise days (APCDs) with load factors of between 75% and 80% across the next four months.

Royal reported a load factor of 59% on its “core itineraries” during the first quarter earlier in the call, in which the company reported a $1.2 billion net loss, versus a loss of $1.1 billion in the same period last year.

Core itineraries exclude voyages during the early ramp-up period of up to four weeks.

In March, load factors were around 68%, according to the company, which operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises and is also a 50% owner of a joint venture that operates Tui Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Holtz said: “Our load factor expectations reflect the higher occupancy we are seeing in the Caribbean and lower expectations for repositioning voyages and early season Europe sailings.

“We now offer cruises in the vast majority of our key destinations once again. Australia announced the resumption of cruising in April, and our cruises are open for sale.”

He added that although load factors in the second half of the year were “slightly below” historical levels, there was a “a greater mix of high-yielding suite inventory booked” versus inside and outside stateroom cabins.

Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean Group’s president and chief executive officer, predicted the company-wide load factor hitting “triple digits” by the end of the year.

“We continue to be thoughtful about the build of our business, being mindful of maintaining price integrity, taking advantage of high onboard spenders and, as always, focusing on the health and safety of our guests and crew,” he added.

Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International’s president and chief executive, confirmed some of the line’s ships operating itineraries in the Caribbean had been sailing at 100% capacity for “several weeks”.

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