Carnival Cruises posts NZ$6.2 billion quarterly loss due to COVID-19

The cruise industry has been one of the hardest hit by the crisis.
The cruise industry has been one of the hardest hit by the crisis. Photo credit: Getty.

The Carnival Corporation has reported a record NZ$6.2 billion in quarterly losses as the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the world's biggest cruise ship operator and forced it to write off and dispose of some of its ships.

The Florida-based company said it had NZ$11.8 billion available at the end of May, but was burning through nearly NZ$1 billion every month as it awaits regulatory approvals for the resumption of some of its services in the hope that customers will come back later this year.

Some of Carnival's biggest brands:

  • P&O Cruises (Including Pacific Aria, Pacific Dawn)
  • Cunard Line (Including Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria)
  • Princess Cruises (Including Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, and famously the brand behind 'The Love Boat')

The cruise industry has practically disappeared after several liners - including some owned by Carnival's Princess Cruises - became coronavirus hotspots, killing some onboard and forcing port quarantines for hundreds more crew and staff.

The company said it hoped to resume operations in a phased manner but was resigned to cutting back on overall capacity and had already agreed to sell six of its ships.

Big ships, big numbers:

  • In 2019, Carnival Corporation had more than 120,000 employees
  • Those employees were needed to serve the estimated 11.5 million passengers who travelled on one of Carnival's ships just last year
  • Its revenue last year was NZ$31 billion
  • It operates a fleet of over 100 vessels across 10 cruise line brands
  • Its largest ship is the Costa Smeralda which llaunched in 2019 and can carry 6554 passengers and 1646 crew 

"The longer the pause in guest operations continues, the greater the impact on the company's liquidity and financial position," it said in its preliminary results for the quarter ending May 31.

Cruise lines normally get bookings six months to a year in advance and Carnival and its peers have steadily had to cancel, refund or rebook thousands of tickets for customers since the coronavirus outbreak first hit ships in Asia early this year.

The company said half of the guests affected by cancellations so far have requested full refunds, with the rest prepared to rebook. New bookings made in May for cruises in 2021 were down compared to last year, but were showing signs of improvement, it added.