Carnival posts $2.8 billion loss in third quarter after the Delta variant hit summer cruise sales

Carnival Cruise Ship
The average Carnival ship was only 59% full in August, the company said. Ruth Peterkin/shutterstock
  • Carnival Corp recorded a $US2.8 ($AU4) billion loss in the third quarter of this year, AP reported.
  • The company said sales were knocked this summer due to the impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
  • Shares rose on Friday, however, after the company expects soaring demand for next year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Carnival Corp, the world’s biggest cruise line, recorded a $US2.8 ($AU4) billion loss in the third quarter of this year as concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19 impacted sales.

Associated Press reported that shares rose 3% on Friday, however, after the cruise line operator said bookings for the second half of next year are running ahead of 2019 levels.

The average ship was only 59% full in August, Carnival told AP. That was an improvement from 39% in June.

The cruise industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors following the huge disruption caused by the pandemic. Former and current cruise employees recently told Insider how they had to reckon with loneliness, fear, and uncertainty while being stuck in mandatory quarantines.

AP reported that the big three cruise companies in the US did not receive the same kind of federal relief that was allotted to airlines.

But the future for Carnival looks more assured, thanks to pent-up demand for cruises. In July, it said advance bookings for 2022 were already higher than in 2019, Insider’s Grace Dean reported.

“We reported a significant loss, so we haven’t recovered yet, obviously, but as we look ahead we see brighter days,” Carnival CEO Arnold Donald told AP. “If things continue to trend the way they are (with COVID-19 cases), we should see positive cash flow as we get our fleet sailing broadly again.”

People are spending a lot of money on board, too. The company told AP that while there were fewer passengers on board this summer, they spent 20% more onboard than before the pandemic.

According to Donald, the fact that people haven’t been able to cruise, or travel at all, could be behind the increased spending. “So they are in a mood to spend more because they haven’t had a chance to in a while,” he said.

Eight of Carnival’s nine cruise lines have resumed sailing with reduced schedules, AP reported. The company said it anticipated its full fleet to be operating by spring 2022.