Carnival Corporation released earnings Monday, reporting that customer deposits reached an all-time high of $7.2 billion as of May 31, 2023 -- surpassing the previous record of $6 billion. Booking volumes for the second quarter exceeded the first quarter's booking volumes, which hit the previous record high.
The company called its second-quarter 2023 earnings “record” -- despite higher costs -- compared with 2019, for dry-dock related expenses and advertising investments to drive revenue for 2023.
“Booking volumes have been tremendous and we are gaining momentum with favorable pricing trends, which reflects improved commercial execution and returns on our advertising investments,” the company reported.
The company also reported adjusted EBITDA of $2.05 billion to $2.15 billion, and adjusted net income of $0.95 billion to $1.05 billion with occupancy levels of 107% or higher.
Cruising is not just about booking a trip on a river or ocean vessel. Other considerations include weather, clothing, excursions, and often airline travel.
Web searches for cruises have seen a “tremendous surge” -- a trend that has been building since the industry’s successful restart in the 2021 to 2022 season, according to data from Similarweb.
Carnival, the biggest brand in cruising, had 14.4 million visits to its website -- up 5.9% year-over-year in May -- while Norwegian Cruise Lines attracted 8.9 million visits, up 33%.
Celebrity drew 5 million visits, up 36.8% year-over-year. Celebrity is a Royal Caribbean brand, and Royal Caribbean attracted 13.6 million visits to its website -- up 4.5% year-over-year.
Aggregated traffic for all the brands covered in this report showed a 15.6% year-over-year increase, reflecting a strong interest in cruising in general, although not for all when it came to branded search terms.
SEO professionals typically win traffic for phrases like “Bahamas cruise” and “best cruise deals,” but marketers at Royal Caribbean win traffic with consumers who enter into the search engine “royal caribbean” or any variation with the company name.
The data shows how Carnival and Royal Caribbean searches have been on the decline during the last year, while Virgin, Celebrity, and Norwegian cruises saw an increase in branded search during the period covered in the chart. Branded search fell 28.2% for Carnival and 23.3% for Celebrity.
Branded search terms -- searching for a company by name -- rose 56% for Virgin Voyages, 26.8% for Norwegian, and 23.6% for Celebrity compared with early last summer. The same three gained the most traffic on a percentage basis.
The data also shows the importance of multichannel marketing and advertising. Increased branded search likely reflects the success of television advertising and other marketing campaigns.
The majority of the search activity associated with these companies is organic search rather than paid -search advertising. Royal Caribbean had the highest percentage of paid search in May, at 4.58%.
The other top four cruise lines in paid search include Celebrity Cruise at 2.76%, Norwegian at 2.72%, Virgin Voyages at 2,28, and Carnival Cruise at 0.20%.