Cruise firm counts cost of pandemic in billions


Royal Caribbean lost $A2.5 billion in the first quarter after the coronavirus forced its entire fleet to port.

Wall Street, however, overlooked the massive loss Wednesday, focusing instead on bookings for next year.

The Miami cruise company said that bookings for 2021 are within "historical ranges."

Shares jumped 3 per cent at the opening bell, though they remained volatile and fell by an equal amount within an hour.

Meanwhile, the S & P 500 was up 1.6 per cent in afternoon trading, building on gains from Monday.

Videos broadcast from cruise ships were among the first images the world had of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Carnival's Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama, Japan, in early February and its 3700 passengers and crew were quickly quarantined, with hundreds aboard infected. Other ships suffered the same fate.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a no-sail order to cruise companies on March 14. The CDC said infectious diseases can easily spread when crew members from a ship with an outbreak transfer to other ships.

It notes outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships also pose a risk because passengers can spread the disease into communities across the world after disembarkation.

Shares of the three major cruise lines, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines, have plunged between 60 per cent and 75 per cent this year.

Royal Caribbean Cruises suspended its global operations on March 13.



Originally published as Cruise firm counts cost of pandemic in billions