Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio on coronavirus

ONBOARD SEVEN SEAS SPLENDOR — The topic of the coronavirus
outbreak could not be avoided on Regent Seven Seas Splendor’s celebratory
inaugural cruise to the Bahamas. 

The 750-passenger Splendor was christened in Miami last

Frank Del Rio, CEO of Regent’s parent company Norwegian
Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), addressed the outbreak during a town hall with
travel advisors on the ship. 

“We’ll get through this,” he said. “We’ve gone through worse

Del Rio said the industry “is in better shape than it’s ever
been” from a balance-sheet perspective, its global sourcing mix and diversity
of itineraries. 

“Cruise lines are stronger than ever. We’re not as dependent
in one area as we were in the past,” he said. 

NCLH has canceled or modified 40 sailings across its three
brands — Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises
— at a cost of about $150 million, Del Rio said.  

He assured advisors that their commissions are protected, an
announcement that brought applause from the crowd at the Constellation Theater
aboard the Splendor. Passengers, he said, would get refunds for canceled
cruises and credits towards future sailings. 

Del Rio said that bookings started dropping at the end of
January through Feb. 14. But as of Feb. 21, bookings had picked up. 

“We’re still down from where we typically are, down from
where we need to fill our ships, but as least the precipitous drop has stopped,”
he said. “There’s always a leveling off or a healing period before you see
things pick up.”

Del Rio said customers are still booking Asia sailings for
the fourth quarter and that many of those who had cruises canceled this year
are booking similar itineraries for 2021. 

He said the company is cutting back on marketing for the
time being.

“Right now, you’re wasting your money. It’s falling on deaf
ears,” he said. 

But he’s optimistic for the future. “There will be a time,
hopefully not in the too distant future, that things will get back to normal,”
he said.

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