Royal Caribbean is leading the charge in the cruise industry comeback

Americans are cruising again — and at record-breaking levels.

Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean all reported entering the year with record highs for individual bookings and cruise pricing.

It’s an impressive turnaround after the industry was largely halted for 15 months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order in March 2020 at the onset of the Covid pandemic in the U.S.

And Royal Caribbean has been leading the way. It’s seen the highest ticket revenue increase relative to 2019 out of the big three cruise giants. And last month, its share price surpassed its pre-pandemic high. Carnival and Norwegian both trade more than 50% lower than their 2019 levels.

“The No. 1 reason why Royal Caribbean has outperformed its peers and recovered the fastest is because they issued the least amount of equity during the pandemic. All of the companies had to issue equity. … All the companies had to issue convertible debt, and Royal Caribbean was able to manage its cash position in a way that utilized the least amount of equity,” said Brandt Montour, Barclays senior equity research analyst.

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