MIAMI -- Premier Cruises is not under the gun financially, and
agents should not fear booking the line, chief executive officer
Jon Erik Nygaard told Travel Weekly.
Nygaard, a former Norwegian ferry executive who joined Premier
after a management shake up last month, confirmed that the line had
a "disappointing first quarter" and is seeking to raise $20 million
of new equity. But he said agents have "no reason, I repeat no
reason, to be afraid of our financials."
Nygaard's comments followed Standard & Poor's placement of
the line on a CreditWatch.
Meanwhile, as reported, the Coast Guard on June 1 revoked the
operating permit for Premier's Big Red Boat, forcing the
cancellation of a cruise that day. The revocation was the result of
the line's failing to meet a deadline for filing paperwork required
under Safety of Life at Sea regulations. The Port Canaveral,
Fla.-based ship was cleared by the Coast Guard to sail on June 5,
The ship accounted for almost half the line's operating profit
in the first quarter of 1998, said bond analyst John Maxwell of
Societe Generale Securities Corp., which issued a report on Premier
warning of "rough seas ahead." Maxwell said the line's biggest
challenge might be in "assuring agents they are fine."
Nygaard said the line is developing a new business plan and is
looking, among other things, to increase its fares.