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Cruise giant reports $4bn loss but ‘robust demand’ for 2022

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Holdings reported “robust future demand” despite having no start date to resume cruising as it recorded a $4 billion loss for 2020 today.

NCL Holdings cruise operations remain suspended through to the end of May and the company noted “significant uncertainties remain” on when operations may resume.

However, it reported “booking trends are very positive” for 2022 “driven by strong pent up demand”.

The company operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

NCL Holdings reported “robust future demand across all brands”, with cumulative bookings for the first half of 2022 “significantly ahead of 2019’s record levels [and] pricing in line when excluding the impact of future cruise credits (FCCs).”

The company recorded $1.2 billion in advance ticket sales at the end of December, including $0.85 billion in future cruise credits.

NCL Holdings president and chief executive Frank Del Rio said: “We’re encouraged by the accelerating roll-out of vaccines, the progress towards herd immunity and the strong demand for future cruise vacations.”

He reported the company “continues to work through the requirements of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after issuance of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order which permits cruise ship passenger operations in US waters under certain conditions”.

However, the company noted: “Significant uncertainties remain regarding specific requirements of the Conditional Order, including pending technical instructions from the CDC.”

Announcing full-year results, including a fourth-quarter loss of $739 million, NCL Holdings said it “expects to report a net loss until the company is able to resume voyages”.

Bookings for the second half of 2021 “remain below historical levels, driven by continued uncertainty around the timing of the resumption of cruising”, the company said.

But it noted pricing for the second half of 2021 remains “in line with pre-pandemic levels, even after including the dilutive impact of future cruise credits”.

NCL Holdings reported having $3.3 billion available in cash and equivalents at the end of December and total debt of $11.8 billion.

The company’s average monthly average cash burn in the fourth quarter was $190 million, including $15 million a month in relaunch-related expenses “as the company began preparing vessels for a potential return to service in early 2021 which did not materialise”.

It reported its cash burn would remain at about $190 million per month through the current quarter, but should then decrease “and remain at reduced levels until return to service preparations resume”.

The cash-burn rate excludes cash refunds to customers.

Chief financial officer Mark Kempa said: “We continue to take measures to bolster our efforts to weather the ongoing uncertainty, including two highly successful capital markets transactions in the fourth quarter which raised nearly $1.7 billion and demonstrate the continued confidence of our investors.”

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