Royal Caribbean bookings hit by rival's wreck

Thu Feb 2, 2012 5:52pm GMT

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Feb 2 (Reuters) - Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) (RCL.OL), the world's second largest cruise operator, forecast a weak first quarter and said new bookings had been affected as a result of a rival's ship capsizing in January.

"There has been no material change in cancellation activity... However, new booking activity has been hurt," the company said in a statement.

Last month, a ship operated by rival Carnival Corp (CCL.N) hit a reef off the Italian coast, killing at least 16 people. Carnival cut its profit outlook for the year as a result. [ID:nL2E8CU4J3].

Royal Caribbean said overall booking volumes from North America have fallen by low to mid-teen percentages, and dropped more in Europe, where media coverage of the accident has been more extensive.

Royal Caribbean, whose brands include Celebrity, said it expects to earn between $0.10-$0.20 a share in the first quarter.

Wall Street's forecast was for $0.25 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Its fourth-quarter net income was $36.6 million, or 17 cents a share, versus $31.9 million, or 15 cents last year. Analysts had expected 15 cents.

Shares of the company were down 6 percent at $26.52 Thursday before the bell. They closed at $28.24 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting By Phil Wahba in New York and Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago; Editing by Derek Caney)

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