The estimated cost to the cruise industry of the Trump administration's decision to ban cruises from the U.S. to Cuba will add up to as much as $171 million this year, and that only accounts for two of the four major cruise companies.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings expects to take the largest loss, estimating a hit to 2019 adjusted net income of between $76 million and $98 million. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) forecasted that the hit to its bottom line would be between $52 million and $73 million.

Both emphasized that the abruptness of the government's ban on Cuba voyages, which enabled them to charge premium fares relative to other Caribbean itineraries, deepened the financial impact.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, for example, said the costs of pulling Cuba from itineraries include substantial discounts to keep guests on booked cruises, accommodating cancellations and changes to reservations, incremental marketing investment to support the compressed sales cycle for modified voyages and the protection of travel advisor commissions.

Carnival Corp., which had Cuba cruises scheduled for three of its brands this year, did not provide an estimate of its losses. Wells Fargo Securities pegged Cuba itineraries as comprising just 1% of Carnival Corp. capacity and on that basis estimated the hit to earnings at $21 million to $42 million. 

The fourth large cruise firm, MSC Cruises, is privately owned and did not provide a loss estimate. 

MSC is a European brand, and Carnival and RCCL own or partly own European brands that can continue to call in Cuba with ships sailing from non-U.S. ports.

While regular weekly trips to Havana make up the bulk of calls to Cuba, the financial impact of losing Cuba-intensive itineraries on deluxe lines such as Oceania and Seabourn is disproportionate, cruise lines said.

Norwegian said about 25% of the impacted capacity days were on sailings of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, "the majority of which were Cuba-intensive, premium-priced itineraries."


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