With war-related jitters and sporadic outbreaks of gastrointestinal illnesses now in its wake, what could lie ahead for Carnival (NYSE:CCL) but sunny skies and comfortable trade winds? Demand for leisure is again on the rise, and Carnival, along with Carnival PLC (NYSE:CUK) (formerly P&O Princess), is only too happy to provide an outlet.

Consolidated second-quarter earnings released this morning surged to a record $332 million, or $0.41 cents per share, up sharply from pro-forma income of $124 million the year before.

Miami-based Carnival, operator of 12 lines including Cunard, Windstar, and Holland America, was already the No. 1 player last year when it narrowly won the British-owned Princess over archrival Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL). The acquisition added 19 ships to Carnival's fleet and expanded its presence in the fast-growing European market. This quarter marks the one-year anniversary of the merger, and there were plenty of reasons to celebrate.

Higher occupancy rates helped drive net revenue yields -- a key metric in the cruise industry that measures revenues per available lower berth day (ALBD) -- 13.2% higher (10.6% on a constant dollar basis) in the second quarter. The figure compares well with last quarter's currency-aided 4.1% bump, and is even more impressive considering capacity increased 22% to 11.1 million available berth days. Gross revenues soared 68% to $2.26 billion.

Carnival has carried over 2.9 million passengers over the past six months, a 19% improvement over last year's midway point. Furthermore, advance bookings for the rest of the year are far exceeding those at a similar point last year. Both the pace of bookings and renewed pricing power have prompted management to lift full-year earnings guidance by a nickel to a $2.10-to-$2.20 range. Net revenue yields excluding the impact of currency fluctuations are forecast to rise 4% to 6%.

Momentum is building from the Princess merger. Spreading fixed expenses over the larger fleet has reduced costs per ALBD by 2.7% while expanding operating margins to 24%. Six new ships have joined the fleet this year, tacking on a few more berths to Carnival's commanding 40% global market share. Should the economy falter, however, or geopolitical concerns heighten, all that excess capacity will act as an anchor.

There are no storms on the horizon at this point, though, as cruises continue to be a popular entertainment venue. Occupancy and pricing have firmed, future bookings are strong, and record profitability was achieved in the second quarter. Barring any major travel disruptions, a continuation of this trend should have shareholders everywhere toasting their good fortune.

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Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.