Royal Caribbean cancels 18 cruises due to virus, crimping profit

Cruise ships have been quarantined or not allowed to disembark over fears of spreading the virus. (AP pic)

LOS ANGELES: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has cancelled 18 sailings and rejiggered itineraries in response to the coronavirus outbreak, putting a crimp on the cruise company’s 2020 profit.

The upheaval will reduce earnings by 65 cents a share this year, Royal Caribbean said on Thursday.

And if the company has to cancel its remaining departures in Asia through the end of April – something it’s not currently planning to do – it would lop an additional 55 cents off its outlook.

The shares fell as much as 2.7% to US$110.60 after Royal Caribbean released the statement. Analysts had projected earnings of US$10.21 a share this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The cruise market has been roiled by the virus, even in places untouched by the outbreak.

Travel restrictions have forced the industry to turn away customers, and ships have been quarantined or not allowed to disembark in ports over fears of spreading the illness.

Coronavirus has now killed at least 1,367 in China, and the country has recorded nearly 60,000 cases.

“It is important that every organisation acts responsibly, and we have already taken aggressive steps to minimise risk through boarding restrictions and itinerary changes,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain said in a statement.

“Our focus on public health is unwavering.”

Fears also have spread beyond Asia, Royal Caribbean said on Thursday.

“While the early impact due to concerns about the coronavirus is mainly related to Asia, recent bookings for our broader business have also been softer,” the company said.