Reduced costs drove Royal Caribbean Cruises increased earnings for its first quarter, ended March 31, 2015, which came on top of reduced ticket and onboard revenues compared to the same period last year. The immediate market reaction was a nearly 9 percent drop in share prices.
Gross ticket and onboard revenue per passenger day this year was $197.04 compared to $213.16 last year. Operating cost per passenger day was $132.68 this year, compared to $147.28 last year.
The average cruise ticket for the first quarter of this year cost $978.48 down from $1,054.73 last year, which may also reflect the mix of shorter vs. longer cruises.
The average onboard spend by passenger was $388.99 this year, down from $421.69 last year. In total, the average passenger spent $1,359.47 in total this year, compared to $1,476.42 last year.
Net revenue per passenger day was $149.21 this year, down from $158.43 last year.
Royal Caribbean also reduced its earnings forecast for the year to $4.45 to $4.65 per share, down from its previous guidance from $4.65 to $4.85, citing a stronger U.S. dollar and higher fuel prices.
Among new developments, Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said new policies mean the brands are opening their books for bookings farther in advance to avoid reduced closer in rates to fill staterooms and that the brands will no longer offer last minute discounting to maintain price integrity.
Commenting on different markets, Fain expressed optimism across the board, except for the Eastern Mediterranean which was described in a prepared statement as a “little weaker, particularly those that turn in Turkey.” He also noted that Australia is holding up well despite all the capacity being introduced.
Demand for China was said to remain strong and outpacing expectations.
Jason Liberty, chief financial officer, commented that the brands are in good booking positions for the balance of the year for the Caribbean and Europe.
Notably, Royal Caribbean executives avoided going into many details – and mentioned Celebrity once while not even mentioning Pullmantur, TUI or its new China venture SkySea.