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WFW advises lenders on ECA-backed NCLH cruise ship financing

The cross-border multidisciplinary WFW team that advised the lenders and SACE was led by finance partners Alexia Russell (Paris) and Mario D’Ovidio (Milan)
Watson Farley & Williams advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CACIB) as agent, SACE and a syndicate of nine banks on pre- and post-delivery loan facilities for four Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings newbuilds at Fincantieri.

The loans are backed by Italian export credit agency SACE. Scheduled to be delivered by 2029, the four ships — two 1,450-berth, 86,000gt for Oceania Cruises and two 850-berth, 77,000gt for Regent Seven Seas Cruises — form part of the most significant expansion of NCLH’s fleet across its various brands.

They are among the eight-ship order NCLH announced last week on the eve of Seatrade Cruise Global.


Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Fincantieri leaders toast the eight-ship order at the shipbulder's stand at Seatrade Cruise Global

13-ship orderbook/incremental 41,000 berths

Altogether the group expects to add 13 ships with an incremental 41,000 berths across its three brands through 2036. NCLH currently fields 32 vessels with a total of 66,500 berths. 

CACIB is a private commercial bank that ranks among the market leaders in the shipping, real estate, renewables and infrastructure sectors, both in France and internationally.

Led by Alexia Russell and Mario D’Ovidio

The cross-border multidisciplinary WFW team that advised the lenders and SACE was led by finance partners Alexia Russell (Paris) and Mario D’Ovidio (Milan). They were assisted by associates Parit Patani (London), Isabella Roberts (Paris), Jihanne Flegeau-Kihal (Paris), Amelia Garavaglia (Milan), Giulia Chiarvesio (Milan) and Trainees Francois Hickel (Paris), James Fitzjohn (Paris) and Marta Lomuscio (Milan).

They were also supported by partners Daniel Pilarski (New York) and Richard Stephens (London) on the sanctions and tax matters of the transaction, and by senior associate Alfredo Guacci Esposito (Milan) on the Italian tax aspects.

Cross-border experience and maritime expertise

'We are delighted to have been instructed by our long-term clients on this major financing for four next-generation cruise ships representing a milestone for NCLH,' Russell said. 'Our team was able to bring both cross-border experience and unrivaled maritime sector expertise to the table to ensure the transaction closed smoothly for our clients.'

D'Ovidio added: 'We are pleased to have advised our clients on this groundbreaking financing for the European cruise industry and NCLH’s decarbonization agenda, that is also significant for the Italian economy. This instruction reaffirms WFW’s commitment to promoting sustainable finance in the cruise sector.'

A team from Conyers led by Victor Richards and Joshua DeAllie advised the lenders and SACE on local law matters.

Hannaford Turner advised NCLH.