After just 116 days into 2024, Royal Caribbean Group’s CEO just announced, “We only have about 12% of load factor left for the year.

During the Q1 conference call, CEO Jason Liberty touted an “exceptional” year already saying,

We’re getting close to the point where we’ll soon be taking more bookings for ’25 than we are for 2024.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of Seas in PortMiami

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Understanding “Load Factor” and Capacity on Cruise Ships

It’s important to note, however, that the “load factor” of a ship can and usually does go beyond 100%. 

100% capacity means that each cabin has at least two passengers.

But since many cabins (especially on a family-focused cruise line) will have three and four passengers, it’s typical for a cruise ship to sail at 105% or 108% capacity during peak season.  

With over 98,000 beds across 27 cruise ships in the fleet, Royal Caribbean has the largest number of berths in the business.

The word “berth” gets thrown around a lot in the cruise industry, but in this context, it simply means the number of lower beds in each cabin.

Read more: Which cruise lines have the most capacity across the fleet (total berths)

Financial Performance and Fleet Expansion

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas (Left) is the largest cruise ship ever built and will sail its inaugural cruise this weekend.

Q1 revenue for the cruise company was up 29% year-over-year, reaching $3.73 billion in the first few months.

Bookings in 2024 are outpacing last year even with less inventory currently available. 

Strong demand in the cruise industry hasn’t exactly taken Royal Caribbean by surprise, though. 

The company currently has two more Icon-class and two Oasis-class ships on order or being built, with the 5,668-passenger Utopia of the Seas debuting in July of this year.

2025 Bookings on the Rise Despite Dwindling 2024 Inventory

Allure of the Seas. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Even with a dwindling supply of cabins in 2024, bookings are not slowing down.    April bookings have been rolling in at double the rate of the first quarter.

Cruise Fever ran a recent poll in which we asked our readers, “How far in advance do you book your cruises?”  48% said they book 6-12 months out, with 30% saying 1-2 years out.

So, it makes sense that more bookings will start coming in for 2025 than 2024, especially with slim pickings still available in cabin categories.

Of course, there is still that 16% that said they book their cruises less then 6 months in advance that will fill up 2024 rather quickly.

But with 2024 filling up fast, more cruise travelers are booking further in advance, adding to bookings in 2025 and 2026.

And so when we look into the booking behavior, one, the booking window continues to extend. So guests are making their decisions much further out,” Liberty said on the earnings call.

Royal Caribbean Group owns three cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises.

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