Royal Caribbean Group is firing on all cylinders as the group releases its first quarter results for 2024. The company has seen booking skyrocket, welcoming more guests onboard its ships compared to the same period in 2023. 

New ships, such as Icon of the Seas, released just in January 2024, and upcoming ships and experiences, such as Utopia of the Seas, Silver Ray, and the Royal Caribbean Beach Clubs in Cozumel and Nassau, are driving interest and bookings, so much so that the cruise company beat projected revenue and earnings for the first quarter. 

Who would have thought two years ago, when the cruise industry had just restarted, and debt was mounting, that the first quarter of 2024 would be one of the best in history for the world’s second-biggest cruise company? However, the results that Royal Caribbean Group posted for the first quarter of 2024 show exactly that. 

“Wow, what a great start to the year! Demand for our leading brands and the incredible experiences they deliver continues to be very robust, resulting in outperformance in the first quarter, a further increase of full-year earnings guidance, and 60% expected earnings growth year over year,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group.

“Building on this momentum, we expect to achieve all our Trifecta financial goals in 2024, which allows us to focus on a new era of growth to drive long-term shareholder returns and take a greater share of the rapidly growing $1.9 trillion global vacation market.”

Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO

The strong bookings led Royal Caribbean Group to post a record revenue of $3.73 billion, which surpasses the expected revenue of $3.69 billion. Ship occupancy levels for the quarter were at 107%, a number driven by the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas. The cruise ship has been built with higher occupancy levels in mind, focusing on families with children.

The reports for the first quarter are good news for investors, with projected earnings per share now expected to be between $10.70 and $10.90 per share, up from its previous forecast of $9.90 to $10.10 per share. 

The company’s three cruise lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea welcomed onboard 2,05 million guests, a massive 14% increase over the same period in 2023. 

The strong performance across the fleet is the result of the strongest wave season in Royal Caribbean Group’s history, and several new initiatives that have proven to be extremely successful. 

The release of the 250,800 gross tons Icon of the Seas, upcoming cruise ships such as Utopia of the Seas, Silver Ray, and a seventh Oasis-Class cruise ship, coupled with the Nassau and Cozumel Royal Beach Clubs, have all proven to be decisive factors for guests to book their cruises with Royal Caribbean.

Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

For the Royal Caribbean Group it also means that it can sell its cruises at much higher price points than possible in the past, while onboard revenue continues to perform well also.

“Our existing fleet along with our new ships continue to perform exceptionally well, highlighted by the market response to the launch of Icon of the Seas, which has exceeded all expectations,” added Liberty.

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“The momentum continues with Utopia of the Seas and Silver Ray, set to launch this summer. And, just this quarter alone, we announced an order for a seventh Oasis Class ship and the expansion of our Royal Beach Club portfolio in Cozumel; and we officially broke ground on Royal Beach Club Paradise Island.”

In 2021 and 2022, the consensus was that it would take the cruise industry until 2028 or even later to recover from the damage that the global pause in operations had done. 

However, cruise executives such as Royal Caribbean Group’s Jason Liberty have been adamant that the pent-up demand for cruising would be the industry’s savior. As it stands for Royal Caribbean today, with a stock price that has gone up 127% in the last year, this certainly rings true. 

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