NCLH says cruise bookings jumped after dropping vax requirement

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NCLH lost $478.3 million in the second quarter.
NCLH lost $478.3 million in the second quarter. Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said there was an immediate bookings jump the day after NCLH dropped the vaccination requirement on cruises from most destinations. 

"Today was gangbusters compared to a typical Tuesday," said CEO Frank Del Rio during NCLH's second-quarter earnings call.

NCLH said that the protocol revisions, in conjunction with the easing of travel restrictions and a reopening of more global ports to cruise ships, are "meaningfully positive as it reduces friction, expands the addressable cruise market, brings variety to itineraries, and provides additional catalysts on the road to recovery."

Del Rio also said NCLH brands also experienced a bookings boost when the U.S. eliminated its inbound testing requirement in June as well as when the CDC ended its Covid-19 rules for cruise ships last month.

NCLH lost $478.3 million in the second quarter, compared to a loss of $714.7 million during the same period in 2021. Revenue increased to $1.2 billion compared to $4.4 million in 2021 due to the resumption of cruises. NCLH also forecasted a loss for the third quarter. 

However, the company said 2023 was on track to set a pricing record.  

"We are encouraged by the continued strong consumer demand we are experiencing, which is reflected in our record pricing, accelerating booking volumes -- especially for 2023 and beyond -- and highest-ever onboard revenue generation," said Del Rio.

Occupancy in the second quarter was 65%, a 17-point improvement over the prior quarter, NCLH said, with sailings in several key markets achieving occupancy north of 100%, NCLH said. Occupancy is expected to average in the low 80% range in the third quarter, with July voyages averaging approximately 85%.

The company's record onboard revenue propelled total revenue per passenger cruise day to a 20% increase from the second quarter of 2019. 

NCLH said its booked position for the second half of 2022 remains below 2019 but at higher prices, even when including the dilutive impact of future cruise credits (FCCs) and despite the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on premium-priced Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean itineraries.

Booking trends for 2023 remain positive, NCLH said, with its booked position in line with a record 2019. Pricing in 2023 continues to be significantly higher than what it was in 2019, NCLH said, and is at record levels for the full year. Approximately 75% of outstanding FCCs have been applied to future sailings.

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