Royal Caribbean cruises hit hard by flu, recession

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said a dreadful economy and the swine-flu outbreak conspired to make its second-quarter loss worse than expected as the Miami-based cruise giant lowered its profit outlook for the third quarter and full year.

Shares of Royal Caribbean sank 15 percent, or $2.48, Wednesday to close at $13.91 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares are down 52 percent from a 52-week high of $30.35 last Aug. 11.

``Obviously the economy continues to be a challenge and the impact from the publicity surrounding H1N1 [virus] has been very frustrating,'' said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean, which operates ships under five distinct brands, posted a second-quarter net loss of $35.1 million, or 16 cents a share, compared to net income of $84.7 million or 40 cents a share for the year-ago period.

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