NCLH ‘leans’ on European market during ‘transitional’ 2022

The boss of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings says all three brands have “lent” more on European cruise customers amid a dip in US passenger numbers this summer.

Speaking on a second quarterly earnings call on Tuesday (August 9), president Frank Del Rio said Americans were initially reluctant to book European fly-cruises over fears that they would be stuck in Europe if they failed to provide a negative Covid test before returning home.

The US lifted its requirement for vaccinated arrivals to take a Covid test in June.

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine is also understood to have contributed to fewer American passengers sailing in Europe this summer.

Del Rio called US passengers “resilient” and explained that they understood NCLH brands – Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises – “the best”.

He said: “Americans have tended to book early and book higher cabin categories for European sailings.

“Partly because of Americans’ hesitancy to travel to Europe, we’ve lent a little heavily on Europeans.”

He added: “I do believe the European consumer has improved a bit.”

On booking volumes in Europe, he said: “Europe is not doing that bad considering what is going on over there. We’re leaning on Europe.”

The company revealed forward bookings during the second quarter were 40% ahead of first quarter of 2022.

Total advance ticket sales balance increased by around $300 million to $2.5 billion which was an all-time record for the company.

Del Rio predicted that the upcoming the wave season would be the “first true” peak cruise booking period since before the pandemic.

He added that he expects occupancy levels to return to “normal” by the second quarter of 2023.

Occupancy is expected to be in the low 80% range in the third quarter of 2022.

In the previous quarter, it was around the 65% in line with previous predictions from NCLH.

He called 2022 a “transitional year”.

Looking ahead to next year, Del Rio said: “We’ll have a full year of Norwegian Prima, roughly six months of [Oceania Cruises’] Vista and [NCL’s] Viva and a little bit of Seven Seas Grandeur.”

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