For close-in bookings, Carnival losing pricing battle

By Tom Stieghorst
In a new report, Jeffries International analyst Ian Rennardson says cruise pricing slipped in March, with the most dramatic decline at Carnival Corp.

For cruises in the next three months, prices are 2.1% lower than at this time last year, with increases at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (up 7.7%) and Norwegian Cruise Line (up 7.1%) more than offset by a drop at Carnival Corp. (down 8.9%).

The outlook is more positive for cruises booked four to 12 months out, with prices trailing last year by 1.4% in March, compared with 2.1% in February. For cruises booked four to 12 months out, Carnival pricing in March was down 0.7%, RCCL down 3.3% and Norwegian up 4.7%.

The report is based on a Cruise Market Watch database that tracks 190 ships and 9,000 annual cruises.

Rennardson said the March results are disappointing for Carnival.

"We are becoming more concerned that pricing for CCL over the next 12 months remains well below our 0% forecast as we estimate that 30%-50% of the all-important Q3 capacity has been sold at this point," the report said.

"We are now lapping the easy pricing comparisons, and there is less and less time to make up the shortfall — pricing needs to turn sharply positive, and soon, if estimates are to be met."

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly. 
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