Cruise Lines Under Pressure to Significantly Raise Ticket Prices

Cruise ships docked in Nassau

Cruise companies may be eyeing a significant increase to ticket prices in the near future as demand surges and sailings sell out in record time.

“Wall Street is not happy,” said one source familiar with the situation. “If cruises are flying off the shelves, the message from big investors has been to raise prices if inventory is selling too quickly … the companies are leaving too much money on the table.”

Cruise lines have widely reported strong pent-up demand and record sales volumes in media announcements, leading to a backlash from the investment community.

Carnival said sales were solid due to pent up demand in late February, and a few weeks earlier, Oceania saw its world cruise sell out in a single day.

Victory Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat said that January and February 2021 bookings are over 35 percent higher than November and December 2020 bookings, according to a press release.

The story is also good at Royal Caribbean Group, with bookings up 30 percent.

"Despite the lack of marketing spend, we have seen a 30% increase in new bookings since the beginning of the year when compared to November and December," said Jason Liberty, CFO, speaking on the  company’s recent business update and fourth quarter earnings call.

Among other examples, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has seen a demand uptick recently with new cash bookings.

"And while still early in the booking cycle, we are very encouraged and very pleased by the strong booking activity driven by pent up demand across all three brands for 2022 voyages. Volumes during January and February sequentially improved by over 40 percent from November and December 2020, and as an added bonus over 80 percent of these bookings where new cash bookings," said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, speaking on the company's fourth quarter and year-ending earnings call.

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