Having recently suspended service through May 31, Frank Del Rio, CEO and president of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), said on the company’s earnings call on Thursday that he is looking at roughly a 90-day window to launch cruise service in the United States when receiving the green light from the CDC.
In addition, Del Rio said the company would be able to reintroduce one ship a week so that in order to be 100 percent operational by the start of 2022, the resumption would have to start in June or July of this year.
As for occupancy levels during the start-up phase, Del Rio said that the CDC has not yet given the industry their target occupancy levels. However, NCLH is looking at an initial 50 percent level.
The conditional sail order has also been more difficult than the industry expected, according to Del Rio.
He added that he does not expect a go-ahead from the CDC in the next few days although events are moving in the right direction.
He said it could be a few days, but also a few weeks.
“The prevalence of the disease will be best indicator when we can being cruising,” Del Rio noted. “And we are seeing a significant drop in cases and more vaccinations which point to the prevalence dropping.”
Meanwhile, the industry has also taken initiatives to allow Alaska cruises to operate from Seattle in light of the Canadian governments ban on cruises in Canadian wasters in 2022. However, it is difficult to predict what the outcome will be, Del Rio said, noting that tourism is the third largest industry in Alaska and represents up to 90 percent of the income of certain coastal communities.
Overall, Del Rio said that the bookings for 2022 were very encouraging with his three brands, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent 40 percent booked at this time, which is better than any previous years, with pricing in line with 2019.