NCLH Sees ‘Meaningful Decrease in Bookings’

Norwegian Encore

Coming off a strong 2019 fourth quarter and full year earnings report, coronavirus concern was in full swing on Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ earnings call on Thursday morning.

“We’ve seen a meaningful decrease in new bookings, we have seen meaningful increases in cancellations, not just for our Asia sailings, but throughout the deployment,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which oversees the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent cruise brands.

“And the decrease in bookings is similar to what we have seen in past events, whether they be geopolitical during the financial crisis, etc. What’s a little bit different about this one is the increase in cancellations.”

But the news was not all bad, as Del Rio said that bookings were picking up and the decline had moderated.

“We are no longer seeing week-over-week acceleration in the declines of bookings and increasing cancellations, we’re seeing a moderation and I’m hopeful,” he said. “And again, I could only say hopeful because it’s five days, it does not make a definitive trend. But I’m hopeful that we’ve seen the worst of the booking slowdown, and we can begin the healing process that, as we’ve seen in the past, it typically takes about eight weeks to after the end of the peak news cycle before consumers return to more normal.”

Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled its Asia program aboard the Spirit for the remainder of the year, placing her in the Eastern Mediterranean. Oceania cancelled 10 cruises while Regent Seven Seas was forced to cancel six.

The Asia, Africa and Pacific region now comprises just 5 percent of the company’s deployment mix for the year.

“One of the reasons we took the aggressive action that we took in canceling cruises and moving (the fleet) completely out of Asia, is that we don’t want a repeat of what happened in Japan to refer to any of our brands,” Del Rio added.

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