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(Reuters) -Carnival Corp said on Friday cruise bookings for the second half of 2022 were ahead of pre-pandemic levels, in a sign the cruise operator expects a rebound in business as it restarts voyages globally.
The company's U.S.-listed shares rose 3.1% to $25.48 as the Cunard cruise line owner said its core earnings will break even early next year and be above pre-pandemic levels in 2023.
The cruise sector was among those most affected by the pandemic in 2020 as many ships docked at ports and anchored offshore for months, forcing operators to raise billions of dollars in debt to stay afloat.
Cruise enthusiasts are looking forward to the resumption of more voyages from U.S. ports after the country's health officials gave the green light earlier this year to restart sailings.
Eight of Carnival's nine brands have resumed sailings, and it expects more than half its total fleet capacity to be open for guests by the end of October.
"We're planning to have the full fleet on in time for the summer season where we make the bulk of our profits," Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald said.
Carnival said its voyages for the third quarter were cash flow positive, as people spent more at bars, casinos and spas on board, adding that it expects the cash flow trend to continue.
The company said its booking trends have seen an uptick in recent weeks after demand for near-term sailings last month took a hit due to the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd and Royal Caribbean Group have also pointed to strong booking trends for next year's cruises.
However, Carnival expects its fourth-quarter monthly average cash burn rate to be higher than the $510 million during the third quarter.
The company's quarterly adjusted loss widened to $1.99 billion from $1.70 billion a year earlier.
(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)