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Carnival shares cruise higher on gains in revenue, bookings

MIAMI (AP) – Long-battered shares of Carnival Corp jumped over 12 per cent on Friday as the cruise line owner reported a big increase in revenue, occupancy levels and bookings for future trips.

However, the company posted a USD1.83 billion second-quarter loss and said the effects of the pandemic and higher fuel prices will lead to another loss in the third quarter.

The cruise industry was shut down by the pandemic and chafed under regulations that were only recently eased by the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even now, a nascent recovery in cruising is uneven, with more demand in the US for nearby cruises, such as Carnival trips to the Caribbean, than more far-flung itineraries.

Carnival, which operates nine cruise brands, said 91 per cent of its fleet is sailing again.

The Carnival Conquest cruise ship sits docked at a port in Miami. PHOTO: AP

Ship occupancy in the quarter that ended last month rose to 69 per cent, compared with 54 per cent in the previous quarter. Bookings nearly doubled from the first quarter and were the strongest since the beginning of the pandemic, the company said.

CEO Arnold Donald said some of the increase in bookings came from people who put off decisions during a surge in COVID-19 earlier in the year, and some reflected pent-up demand after more than two years of the pandemic.

“People are getting more comfortable living with this virus. They are anxious to travel,” Donald said in an interview. “We are well-positioned because people still take vacations, and we are a much better value than a land-based vacation.”

The Miami-based company said the loss equalled USD1.64 per share after non-recurring items. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of USD1.14 per share.

Revenue was USD2.4 billion, falling short of the USD2.83 billion average Zacks forecast.

Even with Friday’s gains, Carnival shares are still down 46 per cent since the start of the year.