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Carnival Shares Jump After Cruise Operator Boosts 2021 Capacity Plans

Carnival said its operating capacity will rise to 75% by the end of the year, boosting shares in the world's biggest cruise liner.

Carnival Corp.  (CCL) - Get Report shares jumped higher Tuesday after the world's biggest cruise operator said 75% of its fleet would return to full service by the end of the year.

Carnival said the increase would lift guest cruise operations to around 65% capacity, with eight of its nine brands across 54 ships back in service. Earlier this month, Carnival  began cruises from its port in Galveston, Texas and Miami, Florida. Passengers who have received their final dose of a CDC-approved coronavirus vaccine at least 14 days prior to sailing are eligible for travel, the company said.

"With strong ongoing demand for cruising, we look forward to serving our guests with additional ships announced across eight of our brands and nearly three-quarters of our fleet capacity returning by the end of this year, marking an important milestone for our company and all those who rely on the strong economic impacts generated by the global cruise industry," said COO Roger Frizzell.

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"For our entire company, our highest responsibility and top priority is always compliance, environmental protection, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, our shipboard and shoreside employees, and the communities we visit," he added. "Our ongoing restart effort closely reflects those priorities, as we continue to work together across the industry and with partners around the world to resume cruising in the best interest of public health."

Carnival shares were marked 1.9% higher in pre-market trading Tuesday to indicate an opening bell price of $20.10 each, a move that would trim the stock's year-to-date decline to around 7.2%.

Carnival said in a business update release in mid-April that its adjusted loss for the three months ending in February would come in just under $2 billion, but noted it closed out the year with around $11.5 billion in cash and equivalents, a $2 billion improvement from the start of the year.

Carnival, which operates the AIDA, Costa and Princess cruises, also said its cash burn rate was flat to last quarter's improved monthly rate of around $500 million, and that advanced 2022 bookings were running ahead of 2019 levels recorded through the month of March.

First quarter bookings, Carnival said, were up 90% compared to the three months ending in November, while customer deposits held steady at $2.2 billion.