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Lindblad lifts Q4 net yield but drydocks raise costs

National Geographic Endeavour - will be replaced in the Galápagos by newly acquired Via Australis
Lindblad Expeditions raised its fourth quarter net yield and tour revenues but adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were down, at $4.7m compared to $5.8m in Q4 2014. The company said the 2016 booking pace continues strong, and it recently added a $45m revolving credit facility.

Q4 net yield increased 9.8%, to $989 from $901, and tour revenues were $46.5m, up $1.7m, or 3.8%, from the prior year.

'We were pleased to see net yield grow about 10% for the quarter, which was driven by strong inventory management and focused tactical marketing,' said Sven-Olof Lindblad, president and ceo. He attributed the adjusted EBITDA decline mainly to the timing of vessel drydocking and the related reduction in revenue and increase in expense.

Tour revenues were primarily driven by $3m higher ticket revenues, in part due to changes in vessel deployments. Lindblad recorded 37,296 guest nights sold and an occupancy rate of 93.3%.

Adjusted net cruise cost per available guest night was $870, up from $763, or 14%, in Q4 2014. The increase was primarily driven by higher cost of tours due to an additional voyage and drydock expenses due to timing, partially offset by lower fuel cost.

For the full year 2015, adjusted EBITDA was $46.8m, up from $44.6m, on tour revenues of $210m, an increase of $11.5m compared to 2014.

The company expects to achieve the 2016 financial projections it put forward on April 1, 2015, which forecast tour revenues of $217m and adjusted EBITDA of $51m.

'We continue to see a strong booking pace for 2016 with 85% of guest ticket revenues for the 2016 financial year on the books as of March 7, 2016, compared with 89% at the same time in 2015 for the 2015 financial year,' cfo John McClain said.

On March 7, the company amended its senior secured credit facility with Credit Suisse as administrative agent and collateral agent to add a new $45m senior secured incremental revolving credit facility, including a $5m letter of credit subfacility. Borrowings under the revolving credit facility will bear an interest rate of LIBOR plus a spread of 4%, or, at the company's option, an alternative base rate plus a spread of 3%. The loan matures on May 8, 2020.

 During Q4 Lindblad signed definitive agreements to build a pair of US-flag coastal vessels for delivery in 2017 and 2018. The company also signed a definitive agreement for the purchase of Via Australis, to replace National Geographic Endeavour in the Galápagos Islands. Lindblad expects to take possession of the ship in the second quarter this year and plans a significant renovation before it enters service in Q4.