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Despite $2bn loss in Q1, Carnival's advance bookings, liquidity are strong

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Posting a $2bn loss in the first quarter, Carnival Corp. & plc also managed to reduce cash burn and said bookings for 2022 are ahead of a very strong 2019.

Revenues were $26m. 

'Throughout the pause we have been positioning Carnival Corporation to return to serving guests an operationally stronger company than we were before,' President and CEO Arnold Donald said. 'With an exciting roster of six new, more efficient ships by December and with lower capacity from the exit of 19 less efficient ships, we expect to capitalize on pent-up demand and achieve significant cost improvement from the greater efficiency of our fleet, along with ongoing streamlining of shoreside operations.'

Bookings/pricing 'encouraging'

Donald added: 'Booking volumes are accelerating.' During the first quarter they were approximately 90% higher than volumes during Q4 2020.

Cumulative advance bookings for full year 2022 are ahead of a very strong 2019 as of March 21, with minimal advertising and marketing.

During the last couple weeks, booking volumes and pricing have been 'very encouraging,' CFO David Bernstein said.

Total customer deposits at Feb. 28 and Nov. 30 were $2.2bn, the majority of which are future cruise credits. During the quarter, customer deposits on new bookings essentially offset the impact of refunds provided. At Feb. 28, the current portion of customer deposits was $1.8bn, of which $0.7bn relates to bookings for the remainder of 2021.

Increasing liquidity

Bernstein noted Carnival ended Q1 with $11.5bn in cash and short-term investments.

'At this time, we believe we have enough liquidity to get us back to full operations and we will be pursuing refinancing opportunities to reduce interest expense and extend maturities. We have successfully identified and implemented actions to optimize our monthly cash burn rate and we will continue to do so,' he said.

Monthly cash burn

Q1 monthly average cash burn rate was $500m, better than forecast primarily due to the timing of capital expenditures. Carnival expects the monthly average cash burn rate for the first half of 2021 to be approximately $550m, better than previously expected. This results from efforts to optimize monthly spending despite higher restart related spend.

Six brands resuming this summer

Six of the company's nine brands are expected to resume limited passenger operations by this summer.

AIDA resumed sailing in the Canary Islands in March, and Costa expects to restart in May sailing to Italian ports. P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises will each offer a series of UK cruises this summer. Seabourn expects to resume this summer in Greece.

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