NCLH: Higher Prices, Extended Booking Window

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) is seeing strong demand, evidenced by an extended cruise booking window and higher prices, according to Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, speaking on the company’s third quarter earnings call.

“Demand for our stellar brands has been so strong that while we have taken no significant overt action to consciously expand the booking window, (it) expanded by 10 percent in the third quarter, underscoring consumers’ underlying appetite for cruising on our three brands,” said Del Rio.

In short, Norwegian’s customers are booking cruise vacations earlier than ever at higher prices.

NCLH operates the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent brand and just recently took delivery of its last Breakaway-plus class vessel, the Norwegian Encore.

Next year, the company takes delivery of the ultra-luxury Seven Seas Splendor for the Regent brand.

“For 2020, the Regent brand like sister brand Oceania Cruises, is already nearly 70 percent booked and at higher prices versus same time last year despite Regent’s 26 percent increase in capacity, demonstrating the brand’s continued track record of profitably absorbing new capacity,” Del Rio continued.

Regent’s previous newbuild was the 750-passenger Explorer which entered service in 2016.

Founded by Del Rio in 2002, NCLH’s other premium brand, Oceania, operates six mid-sized ships. Its latest addition was the 1999-built Sirena, the former R4, Tahitian Princess and Ocean Princess, which joined the fleet in 2016.

Regent will have an estimated passenger capacity of 87,710 and Oceania 148,572 in 2020, according to the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

In addition, forward bookings continue out pace supply growth. 

“And further demonstrating the strength of our forward business is the growth of our advanced ticket sales, which increased 12.5 percent over the prior year on a forward year capacity increase of only 8.7 percent. In other words advanced, ticket deposit growth has outstripped capacity growth by approximately 44 percent,” Del Rio said.

Later in the call Del Rio painted a picture of a win-win situation.

“I can’t stress enough what a trifecta win it is that you can raise prices, extend your booking window, increase your load in the face of what is an unusually high year-end capacity growth,” he noted.

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