Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has the cruise industry’s hot spots — Cuba and China — in its sights.
The Miami-based cruise operator revealed during an earnings call with analysts Tuesday that executives expect to decide “in short order” whether to devote a ship to the China market, as its competitors have done.
And the company, which owns the Norwegian Cruise Line brand, as well as Oceania Cruises and luxury Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has applied for approvals from the U.S. and Cuban governments to operate sailings to Cuba.
“In terms of how quickly we can deploy a vessel, suddenly, the availability of vessels comes into play given how far in advance we’re booked,” said president and CEO Frank Del Rio. “It’s going to be a nice problem to have to find a vessel you move from an existing deployment to Cuba.”
He said the first vessel to sail in Cuba would likely come from the high-end Oceania fleet, whose ships are smaller than those sailed by Norwegian Cruise Line.
“It’s still very much a project that’s in progress,” Del Rio said.
He told analysts that the company is working to drive higher yields — the amount passengers pay per day — by creating more diverse itineraries. On Monday, Norwegian announced that it would send the Norwegian Star to Asia, Australia and New Zealand in late 2016 and early 2017.
“As a contemporary product, we fully understand that the Norwegian brand is positioned differently in a marketplace, and as such, is not expected to reach the same level of diversification that Oceania or Regent enjoys,” Del Rio said. “What we do know is that the Norwegian customer wants to see the world as much as an Oceania or Regent customer does, and we continue to evaluate other opportunities to offer our guests a broader portfolio of destinations.”
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings acquired Prestige Cruise Holdings, the parent of Oceania and Regent, late last year. In its report Tuesday, the company compared quarterly earnings this year for the combined company to second-quarter earnings for Norwegian Cruise Line alone in 2014. A spokesman said raw numbers that included the performance of Oceania and Regent in 2014 were not available.
For the quarter that ended June 30, the company reported net income of $158.5 million, up from nearly $112 million the year before. Revenues increased from about $766 million to more than $1.08 billion.
While adjusted net income of 75 cents per share beat analyst expectations, revenues came in slightly under what Wall Street had forecast. Shares of the company closed at $59.43, down more than 4 percent compared to the previous day’s close.