Norwegian cancels Asia cruises till fall

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NEW YORK — Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said it has canceled its voyages in Asia across three brands through the end of September as the coronavirus epidemic weighs on its bottom line.

The cruise operator said it has scrapped, modified or redeployed 40 voyages, including 24 voyages on Norwegian Cruise Line, 10 on Oceania Cruises and six on Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The company said it won’t deploy vessels in Asia through the end of the third quarter.

The company expects the epidemic, which has disrupted travel, to hurt full-year adjusted earnings by 75 cents a share. It sees capacity growth of 8.1% for the full year, down from its previous guidance of 8.7%. Norwegian on Thursday also reported a drop in fourth-quarter earnings as expenses rose, though results topped expectations.

Outside of Asia, the epidemic has led to an increase in cancellations and significant slowdown in new bookings, Chief Executive Frank Del Rio said on a call with analysts.

Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess turned into a quarantine for more than 600 coronavirus patients, and some of its 3,700 passengers and crew still remain aboard at the ship’s dock near Tokyo two weeks after their voyage was scheduled to have ended. The media coverage of the Diamond Princess helped fuel trepidation among customers, Mr. Del Rio said. “Nothing is permanent,” Mr. Del Rio said. “Customers do have a relatively short memory — thank God.” The epidemic is “easily a bigger deal than anything since 9/11 to the travel industry,” Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst James Hardiman said, adding that “cruise customers are remarkably resilient.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has said the epidemic would shave 65 cents a share off its per-share earnings in 2020 as it canceled sailings in Southeast Asia and modified itineraries.

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