Most Royal Caribbean Cruisers Don’t Even Ask About Coronavirus

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said few potential cruisers are asking about the coronavirus, suggesting most consumers are taking the threat in stride.

Just 1.5% of Royal Caribbean callers in the West are asking about the virus that has swept China. While the impact on the cruise line has been limited, the outbreak has led to thousands of flight cancellations and forced casinos in the gambling enclave of Macau to close. Shares of the Miami-based company rose Tuesday following an upbeat 2020 forecast.

“Outside of the affected area, we really are seeing very little impact, small number of questions, small impact on bookings by and large,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain said in an interview Tuesday.

Fain attributed the reaction to faith in the efforts by global governments to contain the virus.

The cruise industry has grown in Asia, but China still only accounts for about 6% of Royal Caribbean’s capacity. The broader concern was how the virus might affect consumer sentiment globally during peak booking season, and Fain said it mostly hasn’t -- for now.

The company has canceled eight cruises from China through March 4.

More than 20,600 cases of coronavirus have been reported globally, up from 17,000 a day ago.

Royal Caribbean shares rose as much as 4.9% to $122.10 after the company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and unveiled a 2020 forecast for adjusted earnings that beat estimates.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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