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Narrowing Q4/full-year losses, Lindblad on new customers, NatGeo and newbuilds

Lindblad Expeditions narrowed its full-year 2023 loss as operations ramped up, net yields and occupancy grew and the company carried nearly 30,000 passengers, more than ever before.

The $50m loss, or 94 cents per share, was lower than 2022's $116.1m loss, or $2.23/share, on record revenues of $569.5m, 35% higher than in 2022.

$1,097 net yield/77% occupancy

In the Lindblad segment, net yield per available guest night increased to $1,097, driven by higher pricing and higher occupancy of 77%, up from 75% in 2022.

Adjusted EBITDA increased $82.7m, to a record $71.2m.

During Wednesday's Q4 earnings call, CEO Sven Lindblad noted big ships drive for 100% occupancy because on-board spending is important.

'In our case, there's minimal on-board spending so that approach has absolutely no value. Also, we are extremely committed to retaining price integrity,' he said. This, Lindblad added, is 'essential to preserve,' even if it means a little lower occupancy.

Drawing new customers

The expanded and extended relationship with Disney's National Geographic will come to bear this year, Lindblad said, calling it a 'powerhouse.' The added distribution channels are expected to open opportunities to draw new customers.

Meanwhile, Lindblad Expeditions rolled out new destinations with mostly shorter itineraries designed to attract new guests. These include a multi-month Iceland commitment this summer, a new Food & Wine magazine collaboration for 14 sailngs on the Columbia and Snake rivers and, the biggest, a fly-in component for one Antarctica ship that lets travelers skip the Drake Passage and enables shorter trips there.

A new reservations system, launched in May, along with new CRM and digital asset management tools, is paying off.

'We are already seeing record bookings on our website' and higher conversions, Lindblad said, adding that elevated search campaigns are focused on first-timers.

Thoughts on adding ships?

Asked what conditions would make it right to add capacity, Lindblad said: 'The single most valuable thing is maximizing the inventory we have — getting occupancies back up and making sure yields are maintained.'

He thinks the power of the expanded Disney/NatGeo relationship will likely accelerate capacity growth — either by acquiring ships, as Lindblad always did until 2017, or building.


The company's Q4 net loss of $28.5m, or 53 cents per share, was lower than the year-ago net loss of $33.2m, or 63 cents/share. 

Fourth quarter tour revenues rose 6%, to $125.4m.

Of that, Lindblad segment tour revenues were $85.8m, 7% higher, primarily due to an 18% increase in available guest nights. The year-on-year growth was partially offset by an 8% decline in net yield per available guest night to $1,021, mainly due to the impact of repositioning voyages. These resulted in lower pricing and 70% occupancy, compared to 76% in Q4 2022.

2024 outlook

Lindblad Expeditions' current expectations for 2024 include tour revenues in the range of $610m to $630m and adjusteed EBITDA of $88m to $98m.

The company has 'substantial' advance reservations, partially offset by the short-term impact of instability in Ecuador (two Q1 cruises there were canceled) and the Middle East (in Q2, a Red Sea voyage may need to be rerouted).  

As of Feb. 26, bookings for travel during 2024 had increased 2% compared to bookings in 2023 as of the same date a year ago and the Lindblad segment had 87% of full year 2024 projected guest ticket revenues already on the books.

Sven Lindblad said the 2% is misleading due to future cruise credits inflating the 2023 numbers. Without those, the 2024 bookings increase would register as more like 21% or 22%.