Arnold W. Donald
President and Chief Executive Officer at Carnival Co. &
Good morning, and happy holidays everyone. Welcome to our business update conference call. I'm Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Carnival Corporation and PLC; and today I'm joined telephonically by our Chairman, Micky Arison; as well as by David Bernstein, our Chief Financial Officer; and by Beth, Robert Vice President, Investor Relations. Thank you all for joining us this morning.
Now before I begin, please note that some of our remarks on this call will be forward-looking, therefore I must refer you to the cautionary statement in today's press release. What a difference a year made. We are clearly on our way back to full cruise operations with with 50 ships now serving guests as we end the fiscal year, and that's up from just one ship, one short a year ago. We've already returned over 65,000 crew members to our ships and thus resuming operations, over 1.2 million guests and counting and still we are [Phonetic] Now we've achieved that while delivering an exceptional guest experience with historically high net promoter scores. These are strong accomplishment, especially in light of the uncertainty we faced just one year ago when vaccines were not yet available and effective protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus were still evolving.
Today, our team members and the vast majority of guests have received vaccines and many have received boosters. We have [Indecipherable] the effective protocols for COVID-19 and its very enabling occupancy to progress toward historical lows. In fact, occupancies at our Carnival Cruise Line brand which currently operates and generates that are most similar to its normally [Indecipherable] generates are now approaching 90% and that's after the impact of the variants on near-term book. Again, Carnival Cruise Lines continues to outperform with both occupancy and price.
Even at this early stage, as a company, we are now generating meaningful cash flow at the ship level to date and growth, helping to fund startup costs for the remaining fleet. Total customer deposits have grown by over $1.2 billion from the prior year alone as our book position continues to build and to strength. Importantly, we ended the year with $9.4 billion of liquidity and as essentially the same liquidity level as last year, but with significantly improved cash flow generation ahead, as the aforementioned ship operating cash flows and [Indecipherable] continue to build, with 68% of our capacity now in operation and the remainder planned by spring, we are well positioned for our important summer season, where we historically have the lion's share of our operating profit.
Throughout 2021, we said that we expected the environment to remain dynamic and it certainly has. Of course, [Indecipherable] has been a key strength of ours and we continue to aggressively manage to optimize given this ever changing landscape as we have demonstrated through the Delta variant and now with Omicron, we have navigated near term operational challenges. While the variants and their corresponding effect on consumer confidence have created some near term booking volatility, out book position has remained resilient. And in the case of Delta variant, already recovered. Importantly, these variants have not had a significant impact on our ultimate plan to return our full fleet to guest operations in the spring of 2022.
It is clear we have maximized our return to service in 2021 and we have positioned the company well to withstand the potential volatility on our path to profitability. At the same time, we have not lost sight of our highest responsibility and therefore our top priorities, which is always compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and well-being of everyone, that's our guests, the people in the communities we touch and serve, and of course, our Carnival family, our team members shipboard and shoreside. And to that end, we've achieved many important milestone along the way in our return service, or events, broadening our commitments to ESG with introduction of our 2030 sustainability goals and our 2050 aspiration, and that's building on the successful achievement of our 2020 goal, increase our ESG disclosure by incorporating SASB be and TCFD framework in our sustainability report, bolstering our compliance efforts with the addition of a new Board member with valuable compliance experience, a strong addition to our Board of Directors and our Board Compliance Committee, improving our culture through emphasizing essential behaviors and incorporating them into our ethos [Phonetic] through training and development and through every day real time feedback, as we are already amongst the most diverse companies in the world with a global employee base representing over 130 countries.
We're focusing our efforts on diversity and inclusion at every level and in all areas of our operation. And of course, there are many more operational milestones, such as reopening our eight owned and operated private destinations and port facilities, Princess [Indecipherable] Mahogany Bay, Amber Cove [Indecipherable] Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Barcelona, all delivering an exceptional experience to over 630,000 of the 1.2 million guests that's resuming. Welcoming nine new more efficient ships across our world-leading brand, including Mardi Gras powered by LNG. Mardi Gras is nothing short of a gamechanger for our namesake brand Carnival Cruise Line, premium brand Holland America introduced the new Rotterdam, sister ships to the very successful Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam.
Princess welcomed guests aboard her new Medallion class ship Enchanted Princess and we'll welcome another new Medallion class ship the Discovery Princess early next year and ultra-luxury brand Seabourn. We welcome Seabourn Venture with its world-class expedition team and it's spectacular 360 degree view submarines.
For the U.K., we successfully introduced Iona, also powered by LNG. For Germany, we shortly take delivery about six LNG powered ship AIDAcosma system to the also highly successful AIDAnova. And for Southern Europe, Costa Firenze and LNG powered Costa Toscana will replace the exit of several less efficient ships. Now these new ship Mardi Gras, Iona, Costa Toscana have joined AIDAnova and Costa Smeralda to be the only and with the addition of AIDAcosma shortly. The only six large cruise ships in the world currently powered by LNG, demonstrating our leading edge decarbonization efforts.
Now while the utilization of LNG is a positive step with the environment, so LNG is inherently 20% more carbon efficient. It is not our ultimate solution. We have announced our net zero aspirations by 2050. Now where there is no known answer to zero carbon emissions in our industry at this time, we are working to be part of the solution. We have and expect to continue to demonstrate leadership and executing carbon reduction strategy. We are focused on decreasing our unit fuel consumption today, reducing even the need for carbon offsets. Our decarbonization efforts have enabled us to peak our absolute carbon emissions way back in 2011, and that's despite an approximately 25% capacity growth since that time. And while today based on publicly available information, we believe we are the only major cruise operator to peak our absolute emissions, our entire industry is moving in the right direction. And as a company with a 25% reduction in carbon intensity already under our belt, we are well positioned to achieve our 40% reduction goal by 200 and are working hard to reach that deliverable ahead of schedule.
Now in addition to our cutting edge LNG efforts, we have many other ongoing efforts to accelerate decarbonization. To name just a few, they include itinerary optimization and technology upgrades to or existing fleet and an investment of over $350 million in areas such as air conditioning, waste management lighting, and of course, the list goes on. We are actively increasing our shore power capabilities. Greater than 45% of our fleet is already equipped to connect the shore power and we plan to reach at least 60% by 2030.
Now we helped develop the first port with show power capability for cruise ships, leading to the development of 21 ports to date and counting. We are focused on expanding shore power to our high value ports around the world, that includes Miami; Southampton, England; and Hamburg, Germany. So ultimately achieve net zero emissions over time, we are investing in research and development, partly on projects to evaluate and pilot maritime skill battery and fuel cell technology and working with Classification Societies and engine manufacturers to assess hydrogen, methanol as well as bio synthetic fuels, as future low carbon fuel options for our cruise ships. Also, these efforts combined with the exit of 19 less efficient ships are forecasted to deliver upon return to full operation a 10% reduction in unit fuel consumption on an annualized base. Now that's a significant achievement on our path to decarbonization.
Our strategic assist to accelerate the exit of 19 ships vessels with a more efficient and a more effective fleet overall and it's lowered our capacity growth to roughly 2.5% compounded annually from 2019 through 2025, now that's down from 4.5% annually pre COVID. While capacity growth is constrained, we will benefit from this exciting roster of new ships spread across our brand and they even to capitalize on the pent-up demand and drive even more enthusiasm around our restart plans. A enjoy a further structural benefit to revenue from these enhanced guest experiences, new ship, due to the richer mix of premium price balcony cabins, which will increase 6 percentage points to 55% of our fleet in 2023.
Now of course, as we mentioned before, we've also achieved a structural benefit to unit costs as we deliver these new, larger, more efficient ships, coupled with the exit of 19 less efficient ships, it will help generate a 4% reduction in ship level unit cost going forward, enabling us to deliver more revenue to the bottom line. Upon returning to full operation, nearly 50% of our capacity will consist of these newly delivered, larger, more efficient ships, expediting our return to profitability and improving our return on invested capital. Now we are clearly resuming operation as a more efficient operating company, and we'll use our cash flow strength to reduce our leverage on our path back to investment grade credit.
Last quarter, we discussed the initial impact of the Delta variant. We indicated we saw an impact on near-term booking volumes in the month of March. Booking volumes have since accelerated sequentially and returned to pre-delta levels in November. And as we said we would, we maintain price despite the disruption, achieving 4% higher revenue per passenger cruise day in our fourth quarter than in the fourth quarter of 2019. In fact, the Carnival Cruise Line brand where we as I mentioned are able to offer more comparable itineraries to those in 2019 experienced its second consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth for the year, while improving occupancy with nearly 60% of its capacity returned to serve. Now that's a testament to the fundamental strength in demand for our cruise product, especially when you consider this was accomplished without the benefit of a major advertisement.
We expect to build on this momentum with the brands announcement just last week on its Funderstruck campaign, engineered to highlight the joy and following of our Carnival Cruise. That advertising campaign is launching over the holiday, including the activations on Christmas Day and Times Square on New Year's Eve, in time for our [Indecipherable] something that's very present in the news today, Omicron there. We have also experienced some initial impact on near-term bookings, although difficult to measure. That said, we have a solid book position and intensely constrained capacity for the first half of 2022. With the existing demand and limited capacity, we remain focused on maintaining price. Bookings continue to build for the remainder of 2022 and well into 2023, and we are achieving those early bookings with strong demand. In fact, pricing on our book position for the back half of 2022 improved since last quarter, and that's despite the Delta variant.
The current environment while challenging, has improved dramatically since last summer. And as the current trend of vaccine rollout and advancements in therapies continues, it should improve even further by next summer. So looking forward, we remain on a path to consistently deliver and slow from operations during the second quarter 2022 and generate profit in the second half of 2022. Importantly, we believe we have the potential to generate higher EBITDA in 2023 compared to 2019, given despite our modest growth rate, additional capacity and our improved cost structure. Throughout the pause, we have been proactively managing to resume operations as an even stronger and more efficient operating company, to maximize cash generation and to deliver double-digit return on investment.
Once we return to full operations, our cash flow will be the primary driver to return to investment grade credit over time, creating greater shareholder value, and we continue to move forward in a very positive way. And for that, I again express my deepest appreciation to our Carnival team members, both shipboard and shoreside, who consistently go above and beyond. I am very proud of all we've accomplished collectively to sustain our organization through these challenging time and I'm very humbled by the dedication I've seen from our teams throughout. Of course, we couldn't have done it without the overwhelming support from all of you. So once again, thank you to our valued guest. Thank you to our travel agent partners. Thanks to our home port and destination communities. Thank you to our suppliers and other many stakeholders. And of course, thank you to our investors for your continued confidence in us and for your ongoing support. Once again, we can't wait to welcome everyone back on board.
With that, I will turn the call over to David.