If any company had to navigate rough seas these last few years, Royal Caribbean ($RCL) would probably be near the top of anyone’s list. Royal, along with several other large passenger cruise companies, labored under draconian travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
So when Royal Caribbean filed its latest quarterly report last week, we were curious: how’s business doing these days?
Figure 1, below, tells the tale. We compared Royal Caribbean’s revenues and cruise operating costs for the last 12 quarters — that is, from Q2 2019, well before the pandemic; through the awful quarters of 2020; to the rebound Royal is experiencing now.
It’s a remarkable journey, really. Royal went from quarterly revenue well above $2.5 billion just before the pandemic to essentially zero for nearly a year. Indeed, the company actually experienced negative revenue in third-quarter 2020 (negative $33.7 million, to be precise) when refunds exceeded the paltry $3.2 million it reported for ticket sales.
Let’s repeat that remarkable fact for posterity. Passenger ticket revenues went from $2.345 billion in Q3 2019 to $3.2 million one year later. That’s a drop of — hold on, we need the calculator for this one — 99.86 percent.
Today, thankfully, things look much better. Revenue jumped from $50.9 million in second-quarter 2021 to $2.184 billion in this most recent quarter — an increase of 4,291 percent. Top-line numbers still aren’t at pre-pandemic levels, but they’re marching toward that plateau.
Moreover, Q2 2022 was the first quarter in several years where Royal’s revenues started exceeding cruise operating expenses again. The company is still reporting a total operating loss (including other, land-based expenses) of $218.6 million, and a net loss of $552.5 million. But hey, at least those are only nine-figure losses, unlike the ten-figure numbers we’d seen since the start of 2020.
For comparison purposes, Figure 2, below, shows revenue fluctuations over the same period for Carnival Corp. ($CCL). Carnival is the largest cruise line in the world; Royal is second. Carnival reports its expenses in a somewhat different format from Royal so it’s not easy to show a direct comparison on cruise operating expenses, but at least on revenue the pattern is clear: Carnival still has a ways to go before it hits pre-pandemic top-line numbers.
So a long voyage remains for both companies. Maybe a musical conclusion to today’s post will help soothe the nerves.