(12.15 a.m. EDT) -- Despite incurring heavy losses due to the ongoing global health pandemic, things are looking up for cruise, according to Carnival Corporation & plc.'s second-quarter earnings call with investors Thursday, with a full return to service expected "well before" Summer 2022.
Carnival Corporation -- which counts Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn, among others, in its portfolio -- announced a U.S. GAAP net loss of $2.1 billion for the second quarter ended May 31, 2021.
That negative news, however, was buoyed by several other factors. Bookings for all future cruises rose by 45 percent compared with the first quarter of 2021, which in turn resulted in an increase in consumer deposits.
Demand Strong for 2022
Even with minimal advertising spend, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald remarked that bookings for 2022 were exceeding expectations.
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"Despite our minimal advertising spend, we continue to experience an acceleration in booking trends globally, including capturing significant latent demand for our new sailings this summer. This strong demand affirms confidence in our future."
"There's a lot of pent-up demand out there," CFO David Bernstein told investors. "Booking volumes have been increasing, so all signs point in the right direction."
Donald noted that cumulative bookings for 2022 are already up over 2019 -- a historically strong year for Carnival Corporation.
Full Cruise Operations Expected Before Summer 2022
More positive news was announced as it was revealed 42 vessels from eight Carnival Corporation brands would resume service by November 30, 2021, representing half of the corporation's total fleet.
"We're evaluating additional deployment options throughout the fall and winter period", added Donald.
"We continue to expect full operations well before our important summer season next year," said Donald. "Of course, we have to see what evolves around the world. There are large pockets of serious challenges with COVID-19, so we'll have to see how all that unfolds."
The news comes on the heel of restart announcements for numerous Carnival brands, along with Wednesday's news that Carnival Cruise Line would receive two additional vessels from European brands AIDA and Costa Cruises.
On Cruising from Florida and the Future
Asked by investors about the situation in Florida and the State's recent victory over the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Donald declined to comment on the ruling, simply stating its intention was to ensure passengers were happy and safe.
"We continue to be in dialogue with the Governor's office," said Donald. "We continue to be in dialogue with the CDC. At this point, we were prepared to sail under that Conditional Sail Order with primarily vaccinated cruises. We're very optimistic and working very hard to ensure that we can try to make everyone happy."
Numerous cruise lines have begun to offer incentives for passengers sailing from Florida to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status, and penalties for those who do not.
"For those sailings that are under the Conditional Sail Order for primarily vaccinated people, there aren't any restrictions," explained Donald. "There's no physical distancing, etc. We are slowly ramping up our occupancy on sailings of that type."
"Things are moving in a positive direction," Donald told investors on the subject of vaccinations and their impact on the cruise industry. "We've said for quite some time that the rest of 2021 and 2022 will be a transition period. But we're on a path to getting to a great place."
Mardi Gras, with its noteworthy rollercoaster, will be the first Carnival ship to sail from Florida, from Port Canaveral on July 31, since the start of the pandemic. However two other Carnival ships will restart earlier in the month with a full vaccination requirement from Galveston, Texas -- Carnival Vista on July 3, with Carnival Breeze following on July 15.