Royal Caribbean hopeful U.S. cruises will resume in summer

(Reuters) -Royal Caribbean Group said on Thursday recent talks with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had given it hope it could return to sailing from the United States in time for the Alaskan cruise season this summer.

FILE PHOTO: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas cruise ship docks at Marina Bay Cruise Center after a passenger tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a cruise to nowhere, in Singapore, December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Shares of the company, which operates some of the biggest cruise ships in the world, rose nearly 4% in premarket trading.

The CDC earlier this month updated its framework on how passenger voyages could resume, issuing instructions including the need for COVID-19 vaccinations for all aboard on ships.

However, the guidance has been criticized by the main industry body and by Carnival Corp as overly stringent. Cruise industry executives met with health experts and White House staff earlier this month to discuss the ways the sector could restart.

Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain said the health agency addressed some of the uncertainties the company had flagged regarding the guidelines, but did not elaborate further on the talks.

“It encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season,” Fain said in a statement.

The Alaskan cruise season usually runs from mid-May to mid-September.

Politicians from Alaska and Florida, where the major cruise companies are based, are pushing the CDC to lift its ban on sailings, arguing that their states’ tourism industries were severely impacted.

Royal Caribbean on Thursday reported an adjusted loss of $1.1 billion for the first quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of $310.4 million a year earlier.

The company said it burnt cash at the rate of $300 million per month in the quarter and ended the period with liquidity of about $5.8 billion.

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