Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. was forced to cancel 130 sailings during the first quarter of 2020 after ceasing operations in mid-March due to the outbreak of COVID-19, prompting the cruise giant to report US GAAP net loss of $1.4 billion for the year’s opening quarter compared to US GAAP net income of $249.7 million in the first quarter of 2019.
On Wednesday’s conference call with investors, Royal Caribbean executives also confirmed that the company will extend its temporary suspension of global cruise operations through July 31, with the exception of its China business.
“Responding to the dramatic change in business conditions caused by COVID-19 has required focus, dedication, ingenuity and improvisation from all our people, and their efforts have been nonstop,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO. “We understand that when our ships return to service, they will be sailing in a changed world. How well we anticipate and solve for this new environment will play a critical role in keeping our guests and crew safe and healthy, as well as position our business and that of our travel agent partners to return to growth.”
Royal Caribbean’s booking volumes for the remainder of 2020 are expectedly lower compared to the same time last year but the company says that the booked position for 2021 is still within historical ranges by comparison to last year with prices up mid-single digits versus 2020.
In addition to cash refunds, the company is offering 125 percent future cruise credits on canceled sailings. As of April 30, 2020, a majority have opted for the future cruise credit, with about 45 percent of canceled guests requesting refunds.
Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and CFO, said the company has noticed that younger travelers are more likely to seek a refund while families, older travelers and especially loyalty program members are more likely to utilize the future cruise credit.
The company is still working on repatriating crew members to their home countries, with nine ships currently in the process of returning about 10,000 staff.
Royal Caribbean’s next focus will be its Healthy Return to Service program, which comprises four key principles that the cruise company outlined on Wednesday, including ensuring the safety of guests and crew; proactively enhancing liquidity; protecting its brands and defining and preparing for a “new normal.”
While Fain wasn’t able to provide a timetable on when Royal Caribbean or cruising at large might return he does predict it will be slow in the beginning. “We think it will be a gradual start a little like how society’s opening up now,” he said. “We would start with fewer ships and more likely drive markets in the beginning and evolve and grow from there.”
In the meantime, Royal Caribbean has been moving to enhance its liquidity, just recently securing $3.3 billion via debt issue and bolstering the company’s liquidity position by approximately $1 billion.
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Uniworld’s ‘Heroes Among Us’ European Cruise Giveaway Open for Nominations
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is inviting its travel advisor partners and River Heritage Club Members to nominate the “unsung heroes” of their communities for a chance to win a free, seven-night European river cruise.
25 honorees will be selected by the Uniworld executive management team to receive their complimentary cruises, which consist of one stateroom for themselves and a guest on any seven-night 2021 or 2022 Uniworld, or U by Uniworld, European river cruise (excluding Portugal).
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“In these extraordinary times, Uniworld would like to celebrate the unsung heroes who make it possible for us to be home because they aren’t,” said Uniworld CEO, Ellen Bettridge. “We want to express our eternal debt of gratitude to these essential workers who are keeping us healthy, in body and spirit: the doctors and nurses, bus drivers and mail carriers, delivery people and grocery clerks, volunteers and first responders who have forged on despite their risk.”
Uniworld’s past guests and travel advisor partners are encouraged to enter on behalf of an exceptional everyday hero who, according to Bettridge, “has left a lasting impression by putting the needs of their community first during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
Nominations are being accepted online now through July 31, 2020, and the winners will be notified by August 5. Simply fill out the form with your nominee’s name, and their occupation or role in the COVID-19 response efforts, as well as your reasons for nominating them. You can also upload a photo or video to make your submission stand out.
For more information, visit uniworld.com/en/heroes-among-us/.
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