Royal Caribbean's Coffee Talk pours positive news from the CEO

Andrea Zelinski

Royal Caribbean International’s Wave season is off to a strong start, with a string of record-breaking booking days since the beginning of the year, said Michael Bayley, CEO and president of the line.

After three years of the pandemic disrupting and complicating the cruise industry and Wave season, he said the strong bookings trend has given him hope that the rest of 2023 will follow.

“We have been having record booking day after record booking day. Last week was the biggest booking week in the history of our business,” Bayley said during the Jan. 18 “Coffee Talk” webinar hosted by Vicki Freed, the line’s senior vice president of sales, trade support and service for the brand.

“It was absolutely unbelievable, and it just seems to be getting better and better,” Bayley said.

“I’m turning pretty positive about the year,” he added. “It’s just wonderful to see the business coming back the way it is.”

As evidence of the line’s progress, he pointed to bookings of the Ultimate Family Townhouse on the upcoming Icon of the Seas, which is expected to set sail in January 2024. The eight-person, townhouse-styled suite includes an in-suite slide, a cinema space, karaoke and a private entrance to the Surfside neighborhood. The space is more than 50% sold for next year, at an average price of $75,000, he said.

Analysts have said that Wave season is off to a robust start, pointing both to strong booking volumes and prices.

Neither Carnival Corp. nor Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have tipped their hands on how the 2023 Wave is going since the year began, but NCLH started the year approximately 62% full for the 2023 calendar year, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Several Carnival Corp. brands reported record-breaking days during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions last fall. 

During the “Coffee Talk” episode, Freed said the strong booking volume also bodes well for higher prices.

“When we’ve had a strong Wave, then pricing goes up and we don’t see all that dilution in current pricing,” she said. “If anything, we’re seeing that pricing going up.”

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