A surge in close-in bookings helped boost Royal Caribbean
Cruises Ltd.'s second-quarter earnings by 26%. Net income was $466.3 million,
up from $369.5 million a year earlier.
RCCL chairman Richard Fain said the flurry of last-minute
bookings raised prices.
"You do have quarters where there's a sudden surge in
last-minute bookings and that did happen in this last quarter. And that's
lovely. But it's absolutely unpredictable and, frankly, it was a surprise to
us," Fain said during Friday's earnings call.
Guests' spending on beverages, specialty dining and Internet
helped deliver a 5.5% year-over-year increase in onboard revenue. Total revenue
in the second quarter was $2.33 billion, up from $2.19 billion.
Fain said the Mariner of the Seas, recently introduced into
the short-cruise market from Miami after $120 million in upgrades, is booking
well in advance, more like a ship with a seven-day itinerary.
China sailings performed very well in the second quarter,
generating strong yield growth and exceeding expectations, CFO Jason Liberty
said. China is booked "nicely ahead in both rate and volume" for the
balance of 2018, driven by progress in expanding the distribution network, he
In Europe, Liberty said RCCL anticipates "another
record-breaking season with strong global demand for European sailings and
better pricing than last year from all source markets."
He said demand in the Caribbean has been strong "with
bookings trending ahead of last year's very strong levels."
It was too soon to factor in any results from RCCL's 66.7%
stake in Silversea Cruises, but the general effect in the future will be to
raise average cruise costs and yields, Liberty said.