Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCC) provided a cautiously optimistic 02 forecast last week. RCC Chairman Richard Fain said that the booking volume for Q1 was 33 percent higher than last year, but at seven percent higher discounts year-over-year.

Fain said that RCC had been able to recover much of the volume for Q1 and raise prices. The recent discounting had generated so much demand that RCC has intentionally started to slow it down by raising prices, he said. Last week, the two brands, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and Celebrity Cruises, were 84 percent booked for Q1.

However, Fain expects yields to be down as much as 10 to 15 percent for the quarter, although he said that he expects yields to improve for the rest of the year.

Fain said that the "wave period" will be the key and that the company will know more as it goes through it. For now, it was too early to tell. However, Fain described the first day of the period as a record day.

Jack Williams, president, added that the company has not done "a lot of discounting outside of Q1."

As of last week, the two brands' load factors were running three percent behind last year for Q1, eight percent behind for Q2, three percent behind for Q3, and two percent behind for Q4. At the same time, the company has 18 percent more inventory to sell than last year, Williams pointed out.

RCC will present year-end results later this month.