Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCI) has reported net income of $175.1 million, or $2.30 per share, on revenues of $1.9 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 1997, compared to net income of $150.9 million, or $2.35 per share, on revenues of $1.4 billion for 1996.

Without extraordinary expenses from the early retirement of debt and the gain on sales of ships, earnings for 1997 would have been $178.7 million, or $2.35 per share, compared to $140.6 million, or $2.19 per share, in 1996.

Earnings were also reduced by increased interest expense from the debt of Celebrity Cruises which was assumed when RCI acquired Celebrity, and from debt incurred by RCl's newbuilding program.

Earnings per share (EPS) were further diluted by the issuance of more shares in 1997 so that by year's end there were 76.1 million shares outstanding, compared to 64.2 million in 1996.

Thus, regardless of the fluctuations in the numbers, which are generally regarded as short-term dilutions, RCI is on track, according to most analysts' expectations.

Expenses and Gains

The 1997 revenues and earrungs reflect the acquisition of Celebrity as well as a one-time loss of $7.6 million from the early retirement of debt and a gain of $4 million from the sale of the Sun Viking in the fourth quarter.

The 1996 results included a gain of $10.3 million from the sale of the Song of Norway in the fourth quarter. RCI posted 8,759,651 passenger cruise days in 1997 and a load factor of 104.3 percent, compared to 6,055 068 passenger cruise days in 1996 and a load factor of 101.3 percent.

At press time, RCI's common stock was listed at $51 3/8 compared to a 52-week high/low of $54 3/4 - $26 1/4.

RCl's preferred stock was listed at $81 1/4 compared to a 52-week high/low of $87 - $51 3/8.

RCI reported net income of $22.4 million, or $0.26 per share, on revenues of $528.4 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1997, compared to net income of $26.7 million, or $0.42 per share, on revenues of $318.5 million for the same quarter the previous year.

Without gains from ship sales, net income would have been $18.4 million in 1997, compared to $16.7 million in 1996.

RCI posted 2,615,286 passenger cruise days and a load factor of 100.8 percent for the fourth quarter of 1997, compared to 1,514,736 passenger cruise days and a load factor of 98.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 1996.