Norwegian Cruise Line loses $1.88B as pandemic halts travel

'We continue to experience demand for voyages further in the future,' CEO says

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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings swung to a quarterly loss on a $1.6 billion  charge as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the global cruise industry to a virtual standstill.

Cruise operators have been hammered by the curbs to contain the spread of the virus, with extended port quarantines in Japan and California due to deadly outbreaks on some cruise ships adding to the worries.

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The company said on Thursday it posted a net loss of $1.88 billion, or $8.80 per share, for the three months ended March 31, compared with a profit of $118.2 million, or 54 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company reported a loss of 99 cents per share, while analysts on average had expected a loss of 50 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Norwegian Cruise Line said it was well-positioned to withstand over 18 months of voyage suspensions, and saw demand for cruise vacations beginning in the fourth quarter of the year and accelerating through 2021.

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"We continue to experience demand for voyages further in the future across our three brands,'' Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio said.

The company's shares were up about 1.4% before the bell. They have lost more than three-quarters of their value this year.

Total revenue fell about 11% to $1.25 billion in the first quarter.