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Norwegian almost doubles 2015 Prestige acquisition synergy forecast

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the world's third largest cruise shipping company, has increased its forecast for the synergy effects the acquisition of Prestige Cruise Holdings would generate this year to $75 million from $40 million.

"As a result of continued integration and synergy identification efforts, the Company has now identified $75 million in synergies for full year 2015, comprised of $30 million in revenue and $45 million in cost synergies," the company said in a statement.

"The company had previously communicated the identification of $15 million in revenue and $25 million in cost synergies for a total of $40 million for 2015. Of the incremental synergies, the Company is earmarking $20 million for reinvestment directed to business initiatives to further drive demand to the Company’s three brands, resulting in net synergies of $55 million for 2015," Norwegian said.

“The identification of additional synergies has come as the result of a truly collaborative effort between our dedicated integration team and all areas of the organisation,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer, in the statement.

“Tasked with a mandate that synergies have a neutral or positive impact on the guest experience, the organisation has come together to identify meaningful incremental synergies. The net synergies will have an immediate impact on the bottom line in 2015, while amounts reinvested in our business initiatives will benefit our strategies for earnings growth in 2016 and beyond,” continued Del Rio.

For the full year 2016, the Company has identified synergies of $115 million which includes the annualization of initiatives introduced in 2015 coupled with new initiatives. Of these, the Company plans to reinvest $40 million, resulting in net synergies for the year of $75 million.

Norwegian group plunges to first quarter loss as commission, payroll costs soar

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the world's third largest cruise shipping group, has plunged to a loss in the first quarter of the year on sharp rises in both commission and payroll costs.

Group net loss amounted to $21.5 million compared to a profit of $51.3 million in the first quarter of 2014. Revenues increased sharply, to $938.1 million from $664 million, with the acquisition of Prestige Cruise Holdings in the second half of 2014 boosting the fresh figure.

“I am pleased to report strong earnings out of the gate for our first full quarter of operations following the combination of Norwegian and Prestige late last year,” Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said in a statement “These results are even more impressive as they come against strong comparables in the prior year, particularly for the Norwegian brand, and headwinds from foreign currency exchange rates,” continued Del Rio.

For the first quarter of 2015, the Company generated stronger than expected adjusted earnings per share of $0.27 on Adjusted Net Income of $62.6 million. Earnings exceeded the Company’s guidance of $0.20 to $0.24 per share and benefited from lower than expected interest expense and better than anticipated Net Yield performance. On a GAAP basis, diluted loss per share and net loss were $0.10 and $21.5 million, respectively, primarily due to transaction and integration related costs.

Adjusted Net Yield improved 18.9% (or 19.9% on a Constant Currency basis) mainly due to the acquisition of the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands in the fourth quarter of 2014. On a Combined Company basis, which compares current results against the combined results of Norwegian and Prestige in the prior year, Adjusted Net Yield was down 0.7% and essentially flat on a Constant Currency basis against a strong first quarter of 2014 that included the benefit of a one month charter of Norwegian Jade for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Adjusted Net Revenue for the period increased 46.0% to $728.9 million as a result of the acquisition of the Oceania Cruises and Regent brands as well as approximately one month of incremental sailings from Norwegian Getaway which debuted in early 2014. Revenue in the period increased to $938.2 million from $664.0 million in 2014.

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 28.7% (29.3% on a Constant Currency basis), primarily as a result of the Prestige acquisition, while on a Combined Company basis increased 5.6% (6.1% on a Constant Currency basis). The Company’s fuel price per metric ton decreased 18.2% to $526 from $643 in 2014.

The incremental debt from the acquisition drove an increase in interest expense, net to $51.0 million from $31.2 million; however, lower than anticipated interest rates resulted in expense that was lower than the Company’s guidance. Expense of $30.1 million in other income (expense) in 2015 was primarily attributable to a fair value adjustment on a foreign exchange collar for one of the Company’s newbuilds, Norwegian said.

Nicko Cruises in insolvency protection

The Stuttgart-based Nicko Cruises GmbH, a river cruise specialist, has applied for insolvency proceedings at Amtsgericht Stuttgart. Alan Lam reports.

With notable presence on the Danube, the Rhine, the Yangtze, the Ganges, the Mekong and most other well-known rivers around the world, Nicko has been the leading river cruise operator in the German-speaking market.

Formerly known as Nicko Tours, Nicko Cruises employs about 100 direct employees. According to the company, which was founded in 1992 as an organiser of tours to Russia, the political crisis in Russia and Ukraine has contributed to its downfall.

Nicko has also struggled to balance its book after the devastating floods in the spring of 2013. Both of these factors have helped to bring about a sharp decline in bookings and they in turn have led to its current over-indebtedness.

This latest in a series of cruise business insolvencies that highlight a possible structural problem in the German cruises market, the second biggest in the world and the fastest growing in Europe. It may suggest that the river cruise sector in Germany may have over-exerted itself in its recent unbridled expansion.

Princess Cruises' next new ship to be based in China year round

Carnival Corporation & plc, the largest cruise company in the world, announced that the new ship currently under construction for Princess Cruises will be based in China year-round when introduced in summer 2017. Based in Shanghai, the ship will be the first year-round international luxury vessel designed and built specifically for Chinese guests.

The as-yet-unnamed ship is being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, and will carry approximately 3,600 guests on a variety of itineraries, to be announced at a later date. Based on the design of its highly-acclaimed ships Royal Princess and Regal Princess, the new vessel will feature a number of new innovations customized for the growing number of Chinese cruise vacationers.
 
“Deploying our next new ship in China underscores our strong commitment to growing the China cruise market and providing discerning travelers with amazing vacation experiences at sea,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.
 
Princess ships began homeport cruising in China just last year, with a successful inaugural season of Shanghai-based cruises aboard Sapphire Princess. This ship returns for a second China season which begins on June 4 and runs through October 2015.
 
The ship will be based on the design of the company’s new Royal Princess and Regal Princess which have been enthusiastically received by guests from all over the world for their luxurious and beautifully-designed spaces, array of entertainment and activity options, and multiple culinary venues.
 
The new ship will share many of these special features which include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; Princess Watercolor Fantasy, a fountain and music show; Movies Under the Stars featuring the largest outdoor screen at sea; and balconies on all outside staterooms. Accommodations will be configured to appeal to families and multi-generational travelers.
 
In addition, the new ship will showcase the exclusive Princess Class experience designed specifically for the Chinese market that the company introduced during its first season. Delivered by the ship’s dedicated and caring crew, Princess Class enriches the travel experience of each cruise guest, enabling them to participate in unique cultural, culinary, entertaining and inspiring programs including the World Leaders Dinner, traditional English afternoon tea, a Lobster Grill, Ultimate Balcony Dining, an ocean-view hot pot dinner option, ballroom dancing, and an unparalleled duty-free shopping experience.
 
Additionally guests will enjoy the international flavor of cruising with Princess, including experiencing cuisines from China, Japan, Italy, France, and North and South America among other regions; as well as an array of international festivals re-created to celebrate cultures around the world.
 
“And as this ship is still in the design phase we are looking forward to creating other new and exciting venues and experiences catering to the Chinese vacationer, which we will reveal in the coming months,” Swartz added.

NYK's cruise operations triple profit

Cruise operations of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), the Japanese shipping giant, tripled in the financial year to 30 March 2015, the company said in a statement.

Recurring profit reached JPY 2.1 billion compared to JPY 0.7 billion in the previous 12 month period. Revenues rose to JPY 49.8 billion from JPY 45.2 billion.

"Crystal Cruises in North America performed well in world cruises and cruises to European destinations, and Asuka Cruises also performed favourably in key summer and New Year’s cruises," NYK said.

The company has agreed to sell Crystal Cruises to Genting Hong Kong that owns Star Cruises. The two cruise shipping companies will maintain separate identities and management.