Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) issued a mostly positive operating update on Friday, even as its global business remains suspended at least through mid-June. The cruise ship giant had no more firm details about the timing of the eventual resumption of its business, but executives suggested a growth recovery as early as 2021.

Booking volumes for the rest of this year are down, they said, and prices have fallen. But the start to next year's cruise-booking season is looking good, management said. "Although still early in the booking cycle, the booked position for 2021 is within historical ranges when compared to the same time last year," executives said. Prices are also trending higher.

A cruise ship anchored near an island.

Image source: Getty Images.

In another encouraging sign about demand, roughly 55% of customers who had their cruises canceled due to the pandemic are choosing cruise credit over a full cash refund.

Those deposits, along with new debt and aggressive cost cuts, have left Royal Caribbean in a flexible liquidity position. It has $2.3 billion of cash on the books as of late April and is currently burning through between $250 million and $275 million each month that its operations are suspended.

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