Thursday, August 19, 2004

SCRATCH THE NORWEGIAN: Long called NCL, the entity historically known as Norwegian Cruise Line truly now is the acronym, as in NCL Corporation Ltd. In a realignment of corporate structure under its parent (Star Cruises Group) and through two new financing transactions, the newly named corporation has raised a bundle (as in $1.05 billion) to service existing debt and build more ships. Formed for the group’s North American-based activities, the new entity covers the NCL, NCL America and Orient Lines brands. Corporate realignment and new financing transactions involve a new six-year corporate level banking facility of $800 million, comprising a $300 million term loan and a $500 million revolving credit facility, fully underwritten by seven Norwegian and German shipping banks. Colin Veitch, president and CEO, calls this a big step toward “all kinds of interesting developments” and for transitioning from a mixed bag of several aging mid-sized ships to a brand new fleet of large ships, purpose-built for Freestyle Cruising. The parent group, picking up all six of the mid-sized ships, is chartering them back until the new ships are ready for launch and the old can be redeployed to Asia. Pride of America, to debut next June as the second of three U.S. flagged ships sailing Hawaii, will sail seven-day roundtrips from Honolulu as well as three- and four-day inter-island cruises between Honolulu and Maui. For details, call (800) 327-7030.

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