Net profits at Norwegian Cruise Line dropped to $22.6 million last year as the company took on board costs associated with the introduction of its biggest ship Norwegian Epic.

The 2010 profit on revenues of $2 billion compared with net income of $67.2 million on revenue of $1.9 billion the previous year.

The line attributed the reduced 2010 profit to a non-recurring charge of $33.1 million related to foreign exchange contracts associated with the financing of Norwegian Epic.

Earnings before interest, taxes, impairment loss, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for 2010 improved by 23.6% to a record $400.4 million with net revenue up to $1.5 billion from $1.3 billion as a result of a 7.7% increase in net yield coupled with a 4% increase in capacity days. 

Cruise costs increased by 4.2% primarily due to a 28.3% increase in the average cost of fuel to $490 per metric ton in 2010 from $382 per metric ton in 2009.

The company reported a fourth quarter net loss of $39.3 million compared to a $39 million loss for the same period in 2009.

President and chief executive Kevin Sheehan said: “I am extremely pleased with our results in 2010, especially after successfully navigating through the challenging economic environment of late 2008 and 2009.

“Improved ticket pricing and onboard spending, along with the benefits of our strategic initiatives, combined to drive Norwegian’s record results in 2010, setting up the year as the most successful in the company’s history. 

“Not only did we set an EBITDA record for a full year, it was also the fourth consecutive year of double-digit EBITDA growth.”

NCL announced in the fourth quarter that it would expand its purpose-built Freestyle Cruising fleet with contracts for two 4,000-passenger ships for delivery in spring 2013 and 2014.

Sheehan said: “Every team member at Norwegian has worked diligently over the last three years to generate consistently improving results and put the company on firm financial footing. 

“We now move ahead with the next chapter of Norwegian’s story of growth and innovation.  These two new ships will take the best aspects of our current fleet along with new elements to create the innovative vacations that our guests have come to expect from Norwegian.”