One day after announcing that Norwegian Cruise Line will
sail to destinations in Asia and Australia for the first time since 2002,
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. revealed it is looking into opportunities for
deployment in both China and Cuba.
“We believe that once Cuba opens up totally, it’s going to
be a real windfall for the industry,” Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., said during the company’s second-quarter
earnings call on Tuesday.
Del Rio said that the company has already applied for a
license to operate Cuba cruises with the Treasury Department’s Office of
Foreign Assets Control and an export license with the Commerce Department. “And
we have engaged the Cuban government,” said Del Rio.
He said that a possible Cuba deployment is still a work in
progress, but that the company is hopeful it will receive the applicable
permissions from both governments before the year is over. “And then we’ll have
an interesting dilemma on our hands of what vessels to deploy to Cuba and from
where,” said Del Rio.
He said that of the company’s brands, the first vessel to
sail to Cuba would most likely come from the Oceania fleet.
As for speculation about whether the company’s Asia expansion
would include deploying a vessel in China, Del Rio said that China plans aren’t
finalized but that the market is desirable.
“You hear the other lines say how their most profitable
ships are based in China, and so we want in on that action,” said Del Rio.
“It’s now no longer a startup market if you will. … And given that the
Norwegian fleet will have grown to 17 vessels, its’ time to deploy some tonnage
He added that if the company decides to go to China, a ship
will not arrive there before 2017.
In February, Del Rio told investors that China was being
studied as a deployment option for one of its ships on order for 2018.