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Norwegian extends the suspension of most cruises until March

Workers near a cruise ship on the Norwegian cruise line, which is in a dry dock, receive hull maintenance and interior modernization.

Gerald Julien | AFP | Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced on Wednesday that it is once again extending the suspension of sailing, this time until March, for most of its planned voyages.

The company, which previously stopped its cruise until December 31

, said all cruises would be suspended until February 28, with most trips suspended until March 31.

This is one of the longest cruise suspensions by any of the major publicly traded cruise operators announced so far. Rival Carnival, the world’s largest cruise company, ceased operations by January, with some of its brands extending the suspension until 2021. Royal Caribbean announced last month the suspension of its cruise until January.

Norwegian stocks fell about 2% in trading on Wednesday. Shares of the company rose more than 200% as they reached $ 7.03 per share on March 18 after the company announced its initial suspension of travel. However, the company’s shares are still declining by more than 60% since January 1.

But with positive news about vaccines that could reduce the severity of the pandemic next year, at least in key markets for the global tourism industry, Norway’s shares rose in November, along with others in the industry. In November, Norwegian shares rose 42%.

The company said it had extended its suspension as “it continues to work through its return plan to meet the requirements of the Conditional Navigation Framework issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

On October 30, the CDC withdrew its nearly eight-month ban on sailing and replaced it with a “Conditional Sailing Order.” This new order provided a framework for the industry to start thinking about how it could safely resume sailing. Among other requirements, it includes trial cruises that will be monitored by CDC staff to ensure the implementation of the correct infection prevention protocol.

Norwegian CFO Mark Kempa said last month that the company “does not expect a straight-line recovery”. He said he had set aside $ 300 million to invest in health and safety, adding that the increase in monthly money burns is expected to begin in the future as the company begins to mobilize its fleet and personnel in preparation for a gradual return to service. . Kempa said the company had $ 2.3 billion in liquidity, including money set aside for health and safety investments by the end of the third quarter.

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