Cruise Booking Window Continues to Extend

Carnival and Royal Caribbean Ships in Port (Photo: Sergio Ferreira)

The major cruise companies are seeing the booking window extend against a backdrop of record earnings and supply growth. All three major operators – Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings  – have pointed to strong booking curves in their year-end earnings calls.

“And while still very early in the booking cycle, initial indications are that this fertile booking environment has a long tail as we are already seeing gains in both load factor and pricing into 2019, particularly for itineraries with extended booking curves,” said Frank del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Del Rio said the book curve had improved by a further five weeks between year-end 2017 and year-end 2016.

The same story goes for Carnival Corporation, were CFO David Bernstein said the booking window continues to expand.

“We are always looking for the optimal point in the booking curve and changes over time, and so we will continue to push out the booking curve as long as it makes economic sense, and we will continue to look at how to maximize revenue by balancing price versus occupancy at all points in the booking curve,” he explained.

At Royal Caribbean Cruises, Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said the company manages its booking curve to maximize revenue.

“Now you may recall that a year ago I said and I'm quoting, my sense is that the booking window has stretched as far as we will ever want and I don’t expect to announce another record level bookings a year from today. Well I wasn’t terribly accurate, here we are a year later and we're announcing another record level bookings,” said Fain.

“Notwithstanding my prediction, our revenue mangers concluded that the market is so strong that we could eek out yet another increase and that having this much booked would help us raise our prices as the year progresses,” he continued. “We manage the booking curves to maximize revenue, and I feel and I predict that next year we will choose to leave more available for bookings during the coming year.”

Quote Sources: Cruise Industry News, SeekingAlpha

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