"2024 is shaping up to be another incredible year" says chief exec
Royal Caribbean Group has reported “healthy demand” for forward bookings as its brands are attracting more new customers both globally and in the Middle East while retaining loyal cruisers.
The buoyant outlook came as the group unveiled a third-quarter profit of $1 billion, compared with US$33 million for the same period in 2022, with revenue reaching US$4.2 billion, up from US$3 billion last year.
Jason Liberty, chief executive of the group which operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises, said: “We have seen a significant increase in new-to-brand and new-to-cruise customers this year. In the third quarter, approximately two thirds of our guests were new-to-cruise or new-to-brand, all while also doubling the repeat booking rate, indicating strong loyalty and satisfaction.”
He said the results showed 2023 was “solidifying” as a banner year and positioned the group “extremely well for 2024 and beyond”.
He said: “The unprecedented acceleration in demand and pricing for our leading brands, combined with stronger demand for onboard experiences, are certainly the main drivers of our outperformance. The healthy demand environment is very encouraging as we continue to build the business for 2024 and beyond.”
Commenting on the impact of the Israel-Gaza conflict on bookings, he said: “It’s not something that we’re seeing today". About 1.5% of the Q4 capacity has had to be shifted away from Israel because of the war, and Rhapsody of the Seas has helped to evacuate Americans.
Liberty said economic indicators continue to provide “some conflicting signals” but added: “When we look closer at these trends and indicators related to our customers and their related behaviours, and strong propensity to cruise, we see that many of these macro indicators are less relevant to our business. We have more than 130,000 guests sailing on our ships every day and millions more who book or engage with us throughout our commercial platforms.”
Customers had a median household income of at least US$125,000 and their sentiment is “bolstered” by strong labour markets, high wages, surplus savings and elevated wealth levels.
Liberty continued: “Cruising remains an exceptional value proposition with strong demographics allowing us to outperform the broader leisure travel industry. Our goal is to further narrow the gap to land-based vacations as we attract even more satisfied customers to our vacation ecosystem.
“When people are raising concerns in other industries like hotel, airline and real estate, our commercial apparatus is firing on all cylinders with visits to our websites in the third quarter doubling that of 2019. Our travel partners are also delivering meaningfully more bookings in 2019 levels and even beating our elevated expectations.”
New ships are set to be launched, such as Icon of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas and Celebrity Ascent – along with the opening in January 2024 of Hideaway Beach, the adult-only beachfront attraction at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International’s private island.
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