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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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NCLH earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2020.

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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH -4.08%)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Feb 26, 2021, 10:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Earnings Conference Call. My name is Josh, and I will be your operator. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Ms. Andrea DeMarco, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations, Corporate Communications and ESG. Ms. DeMarco, please proceed.

Andrea DeMarco -- Vice President of Investor Relations And Corporate Communications

Thank you, Josh, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us for our fourth quarter and full year 2020 earnings call. I'm joined today by Frank Del Rio, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings; and Mark Kempa, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Frank will begin the call with opening commentary, after which Mark will follow to discuss results for the quarter before handing the call back to Frank for closing remarks. We will then open the call for your questions. As a reminder, this conference call is being simultaneously webcast on the company's Investor Relations website at www.nclhltdinvestor.com. We will also make reference to a slide presentation during this call, which may also be found on our Investor Relations website.

Both the conference call and presentation will be available for replay for 30 days following today's call. Before we discuss our results, I'd like to cover just a few items. Our press release with our fourth quarter and full year 2020 results was issued this morning and is available on our Investor Relations website. This call includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from such statements. These statements should be considered in conjunction with the cautionary statements contained in our earnings release. Our comments may also reference non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure and other associated disclosures are contained in our earnings release and our presentation.

With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Frank Del Rio. Frank?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Andrea, and good morning. I hope that everyone joining us today as well as your loved ones remain healthy and safe. Similar to our last few earnings calls, we will focus our commentary today on the progress of our response to the global COVID-19 pandemic; the overall booking and pricing environment, which has shown particular strength in recent weeks; and our view of what the month ahead may look like as we prepare for an eventual return to service. To say that 2020 was challenging would be an incredible understatement as it was, without a doubt, the toughest and most difficult year in our company's 50-plus year history. After a record-breaking 2019, the foundation was well set for 2020 to be even a more successful year.

That upward trajectory, however, quickly changed last March. And 2020 instead became a year of great hardship and disappointment and one in which we had to rely on our nimbleness and our ability to adapt by taking swift, proactive and decisive actions to overcome the multifaceted challenges presented by the pandemic. These actions included bringing our entire fleet to a halt literally overnight, followed by the complex logistics of safely returning more than 50,000 of our guests home. Next came the challenge of repatriating over 25,000 of our crew members and finding safe haven for our 28 vessels, all while transitioning them to various states of reduced manning. We quickly bolstered our liquidity through multiple capital market transactions, totaling in excess of $6 billion and led the industry in establishing cutting-edge health and safety standards through the cofounding of the Healthy Sail Panel.

I'm incredibly proud and profoundly grateful for the dedication and perseverance demonstrated by our team members who continue to adapt, innovate and flawlessly execute while faced with unprecedented challenges. The tremendous efforts of our team are what have enabled our company to prove our resilience, time and again in the past and gives me confidence we will do so again. As we survey the current public health situation, both in America and around the world, it is extraordinary to consider just how much has transpired in the few months since our last update. As expected, the fourth quarter resurgence of the virus drove caseload to record highs, resulting in renewed lockdown and stricter global travel restrictions. During this time, perhaps the most important breakthrough though was the needed -- to defeat the pandemic was the coming online of several vaccines that were authorized for emergency use.

Fast forward to today and caseloads across the globe have been in decline since mid-January, while simultaneously, vaccination programs are ramping up where currently over six million doses are being administered globally daily, a number that will only increase as manufacturing, distribution and healthcare systems align. So where does that put us in the cruise industry? In reality, we're not sure. But directionally, we're headed in the right direction to an eventual restart of cruising. Public health experts do predict that caseload, while already on the downside, will continue to decline primarily for three reasons: first, a significant portion of the population has already been infected and recovered; second, the number of individuals vaccinated will rapidly increase; and lastly, we will soon move into the less troublesome spring and summer season.

All three of these factors are expected to combine to begin establishing herd immunity sometime during the third quarter, with the spread of variants and the durability of vaccine protection being the two main variables that could slow down but not completely halt the rapid progress being made. And while we are moving in the right direction, scientists continue to caution that we are not yet out of the woods, the crisis is far from over and we must all remain vigilant and ready to adapt to the ongoing fluidity of the public health environment. Our industry has recently seen some encouraging green shoots. After the first quarter resurgence caused nascent cruise operations in Europe to temporarily halt, several European cruise lines have since resumed or are planning to return to service in the next few weeks, sourcing EU nationals from Italy and Germany.

The hope and expectation is that by late spring, sailings will expand to include cross-border European nationals, and eventually, likely during the third quarter, international guests, as virus prevalence decreases to manageable level. Shifting to our company's recent events since our last earnings call, several key milestones marked the fourth quarter, which can be found on slide three of our presentation. These include two capital raises, resulting in approximately $1.7 billion of additional liquidity; new debt deferral amendments providing additional financial flexibility; and continued progress on our environmental, social and governance initiatives, which I will touch on in more detail later in the call. On slide four, we outlined the actions we have undertaken as we continue to navigate through this crisis, remaining focused on what we can control. Subsequent to the issuance of the CDC's Conditional Sail Order in October, we anticipated a return to service in the first quarter of 2021.

Since it takes up to 90 days to ready a ship to reenter servers from layup status, we initiated a phased crew restaffing of select vessels and began a ramping up of marketing activities. This initiative, unfortunately, was met with several headwinds, most notably, the rise of confirmed cases to all-time high and the emergence of new variants, which combined with a slower-than-anticipated rollout of vaccination programs, additional lockdowns and travel restrictions, continued closure of key ports around the world and, most important, the reluctance by public health authorities to lift cruise suspension. These headwinds caused us to change course. With a much hope for a Q1 relaunch postponed, the decision was made to return vessels to reduce manning status until there is certainty on the timing for a return to service. With new crew rested, ready and eager to work, we took the opportunity to rotate certain crew that had been onboard beyond their usual contracted term and made the difficult decision to repatriate 4,000 crew members back to their home countries.

Next, we continue to execute on our strategic financial action plan, which Mark will provide an update on, and on the incremental actions we have taken to bolster liquidity a little later in the call. Turning to our road map to relaunch, which is illustrated on slide five. We continue to work with the Healthy Sail Panel, along with the CDC and other public health authorities and governments across the globe, to prepare for a safe and healthy resumption of cruising. As we await for additional technical guidelines from the CDC and other public health officials around the world, we continue to make progress on enhancing our already rigorous health and safety standards, implementing new advancements, including digital technology for contract tracing as well as streamlining safety drill with our state-of-the-art e-mustering technology.

While we are confident in the ability of the 74 protocols developed by the Healthy Sail Panel to keep our ships, crew and guests safe, our frontline defense strategy has expanded from protocol-led preventive measures to now also include the protective health and safety benefits of vaccines. We view vaccine as a powerful tool, the most powerful tool, that when combined with various protective measures society is already accustomed to, such as space coverings and physical distancing, forms a multilayered, science-based approach to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. We expect that by the time cruising resumes, vaccination will most certainly be widely available in the developed world. And we believe that by then, we will be able to secure vaccines for our crew as we are today well along in the procurement process.

A mix of vaccinated guests and crew, along with the other established protocols, will provide a powerful combination to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 onboard our ships and the communities we visit. Ports and destinations is the next step of our road map, and we are in constant communication with key ports around the world to assess the status of travel restrictions, quarantine requirements and port availability. Of particular importance to the industry was the recent announcement by Canadian authorities to restrict cruise vessels from operating in Canadian waters through February of 2022. Throughout this pandemic, the travel industry has experienced the introduction, subsequent repeal and reintroduction of lockdowns and travel restrictions depending on the prevalence of the virus and other factors. Thankfully, the Canadian order allows for the suspension to be rescinded based on improvement in public health.

We remain cautiously optimistic that a recision may be possible. And in the meantime, we await the results of several Alaskan delegation-led initiatives, which we want to acknowledge today and greatly appreciate that may allow Alaska Cruises to operate in 2021. The third step in our road map is to begin reactivating our sales and marketing machine, which as you know, is guided by our industry-leading market-to-fill versus discount-to-fill strategy. We have revalidated the effectiveness of this strategy in the pandemic environment, generating demand for the back half of 2021 and especially strong demand into 2022 and beyond. We will resume a disciplined process of ramping up sales and marketing efforts once we finalize an initial voyage resumption plan. Lastly, and once there is certainty, we continue to expect a gradual and phased approach to the resumption of cruise voyages. Depending on the timing of our return to service, our vessels could return in certain regions before others.

For example, given the seasonality of our operations, a typical year the deployment of our vessel is concentrated in Europe during the peak summer season with 17 of our 28 ships operating in this region. Therefore, seasonality will likely play a key role in the initial deployment of our vessels. Our booking trends that you can see on slide six demonstrate how we continue to experience strong demand for future cruise vacations despite the uncertainties in the broad travel sector, the reduction of demand-generating marketing investments and the temporary absence of a full complement of our all-important travel agent partners. For the second half of 2021, our load factor is below historical ranges, impacted by continued uncertainty around timing of the resumption of cruising and the shift of our limited marketing investments to focus on '22 -- 2022 voyages. Pricing continues to be at [Indecipherable] Level despite the dilutive impact of the value-added future cruise credits for canceled voyages.

And while it is still early in the booking cycle, we are very encouraged and very pleased by the strong booking activity, driven by pent-up demand across all three brands for 2022 voyages. Volumes during January and February sequentially improved by over 40% from November and December 2020. And as an added bonus, over 80% of these bookings were new cash bookings. For the first half of 2022 and for all of 2022, in fact, our load factor is currently well ahead of prepandemic levels with pricing at each of our award-winning brands in line to up mid-single digits when excluding the dilutive impacts of future crew certificates. The consumer appetite for global travel aboard our 28 vessels is so strong that even with limited marketing investments, we are yielding outsized results, and we are experiencing record demand with our launches for our future itineraries and global voyage collections.

A case in point is Oceania Cruises' 2023 World Cruise, which sold out within one day of opening for sale to the general public. In addition to our loyal pass guests, approximately 1/3 of all bookings for this group came from first-time new-to-brand guests. We believe this achievement, along with multiple booking records we have announced in recent months, demonstrates the pent-up demand that exists from our mature and affluent cruisers even for long and exotic voyages once the severe impact of the pandemic subsides. This demand, coupled with the opening of voyages for sale further in advance, has also resulted in a significant expansion to the booking curve during the fourth quarter, which is now double versus the same time last year. I'll be back later to provide closing remarks.

But for now, I'd like to turn the call over to Mark for a financial update. Mark?

Mark A. Kempa -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Frank. My remarks today will focus on the continued execution of our COVID-19 action plan as well as our road map to relaunch. The global pandemic continues to evolve, and we continue to focus on what we can control and we are prepared to adapt and modify our strategy as needed. slide seven illustrates three focus areas of our action plan and the additional proactive measures taken since the beginning of the fourth quarter. First, we have reduced operating expenses and capital expenditures through a number of initiatives, including the further reduction or deferral of near-term marketing expenses, reduction of nonessential capital expenditures, extended salary reductions and furloughs for shoreside team members. In fact, we reduced capital expenditures by approximately 60% for each of the years 2020 and 2021. In addition, we finalized the deferral of EUR220 million of newbuilding-related shipyard payments through the end of the first quarter 2022.

Second, we have also made significant progress on improving our debt maturity profile in order to provide additional near-term financial flexibility through the following actions. We amended our Pride of America, Norwegian Jewel and senior secured credit facilities to suspend testing of certain covenants. This covenant relief extends through maturity for the Pride of America and Jewel facilities and through year-end 2022 for the senior secured credit facility. We were also able to defer $70 million of amortization payments due prior to June 30, 2022, for the senior secured credit facility. Second, we secured deferrals for approximately $680 million of our export credit agency-backed amortization payments, representing 100% of our ECA payments originally due through the first quarter of 2022.

We also received covenant waivers through the end of the fourth quarter of 2022 on our ECA facilities. We have tremendous support behind us from our strong, long-standing relationships with our export credit agencies, SACE and Hermes, our ECA and commercial lenders as well as the shipyard. Their assistance is playing a significant role in our ability to weather this pandemic, and we can't thank them enough for their continued and ongoing partnership during these unprecedented times. The final focus area of our action plan was securing additional capital. In the fourth quarter, we executed two highly successful transactions. In November, we raised $824 million of net proceeds through an equity offering of 40 million ordinary shares. And in December, we issued 850 million of five 7/8% senior unsecured notes due 2026 in an oversubscribed offering. To date, we've accessed the capital markets five times over a nine-month period. As a result, since the onset of the pandemic, we raised incremental cash of nearly $6.5 billion, including the drawdown of the $875 million revolver early last year.

This tremendous accomplishment would not have been possible without the hard work of our finance, treasury, legal and accounting teams who have worked tirelessly around the clock to execute on these initiatives. We have also experienced an incredible outpouring of support from our investors. And again, we can't thank you enough for having conviction in our business model, in our management team and in the long-term potential of our company. slide eight outlines the improvement of our debt maturity profile in response to the crisis. Since the third quarter, we secured debt amortization deferrals of approximately $750 million, resulting in minimal debt service payments for the remainder of 2021. Turning to liquidity. slide nine provides our current illustrative liquidity profile. Our total liquidity as of year-end was approximately $3.2 billion, which includes the portion of customer deposit refunds that are included in accounts payable at quarter end.

We have also estimated approximately $300 million for anticipated health and safety investments and other collateral obligations. While we anticipate variability in our health and safety investments as we work through the various requirements and continuously improve and refine our protocols, we wanted to earmark this investment in our illustrative liquidity profile. These factors combined result in a net liquidity on a pro forma basis of approximately $2.9 billion, enabling us to continue to navigate through this fluid environment and execute on our return to service plan. As for cash burn, our team continues to work day in and day out to further reduce expenses and conserve cash. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have made significant progress in reducing our controllable cash burn rate, with the low watermark representing a nearly 80% reduction in cruise operating expenses versus normalized levels.

For the fourth quarter, our average monthly cash burn rate was approximately $190 million. This included approximately $15 million per month due to additional expenses related to preparing vessels for a potential return to service in early 2021 and included a limited increase in associated marketing investments, as Frank discussed earlier. As for the first quarter, we expect the average cash burn to temporarily remain elevated at approximately $190 million per month or approximately $170 million per month, excluding nondebt recurring -- nonrecurring debt modification costs as we ramp down our relaunch-related expenses and repatriate crew. The approximately $60 million of onetime costs we incurred in the quarter is a result of debt deferrals and covenant waivers and suspensions, which when combined with the newbuild payment extensions, have resulted in approximately $1 billion of additional liquidity over the next 12 months.

Once the ramp down of relaunch-related expenses, including crew repatriation efforts are complete, we expect that the average cash burn rate to decrease and remain at reduced levels until return to service preparations resume. We will continue to take a thoughtful and disciplined approach to reintroducing costs as we resume voyages in order to conserve cash, while at the same time, balance the need to drive new cash bookings. Turning to SLIDE10. We ended the fourth quarter with approximately $3.3 billion of cash and cash equivalents. Our cash balance in the fourth quarter increased, driven by approximately $1.7 billion of net proceeds from capital raises and was partially offset by approximately $570 million of operating cash burn, which includes operating expenses, SG&A, interest and capex, customer cash refunds for canceled voyages of approximately $120 million and net working capital and other outflows of approximately $20 million, which includes health and safety investments. Given the continued uncertainty around the timing of our voyage resumption, we are not yet prepared to provide guidance on all metrics. However, we have provided guidance on depreciation and amortization, interest expense and newbuild-related capital expenditures to assist with modeling, which can be found in our earnings release and on Slide 19 of the presentation.

Broadly speaking, excluding newbuild-related capital expenditures, we still expect the minimum required capital expenditures needed to run the business and maintain our best-in-class fleets is generally a few hundred million dollars per year. Before handing the call back, I want to reemphasize that while we are prioritizing our immediate business needs, we are also very focused on the future of our company. Our medium- and long-term financial recovery plan, which is provided on Slide 11, focuses on three critical components: first, rebuild and gradually return to pre-COVID margin levels while continuing to identify opportunities to further drive margin expansion; second, maximize our cash generation; and third, focus on optimizing our balance sheet and charting a path to delever.

With that, I'll hand the call back over to Frank to provide closing commentary. Frank?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Mark. Before we wrap up our prepared remarks today, I'd like to provide an update on our global sustainability program, Sail & Sustain, which is on Slide 12. Despite the current public health challenges we face, our commitment to protect and preserve our oceans, the environment and the destinations we visit while enhancing our culture of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce remains at the very core of our everyday operation. To that end, in 2020, we launched unconscious bias, microaggression and diversity and inclusion training for our global workforce and have committed to expand our diverse hiring practices. We are also building upon our supplier diversity program as part of our efforts to facilitate and encourage the growth of small and diverse businesses. We strive to maintain a supportive and empowering workforce -- workplace for our team members across the globe.

We believe our team members are, by far, our most important resource, and that has never been clearer to me than during this crisis. We are pleased that this commitment to our team's development and well-being was recognized recently with our naming to the Forbes America's Best Employers list, in which we ranked among the top 75 companies in the overall Large Employer category and among the 10 top companies in the Travel & Leisure sector. Just as we support our team members, we are also committed to supporting our local communities and the destinations we visit. This past year, we launched two initiatives in partnership with JUST Goods. For Giving Tuesday, we matched every case of JUST Water purchased in December through their online store with a water donation to local food banks in Miami and New York City. Separately, we provided nearly $275,000 of in-kind donations in the form of JUST Water and nonperishable and canned goods to support two community organization and assist ongoing relief efforts in the archipelago of San Andres in Colombia after the devastating impact of Category five Hurricane Iota.

Furthering our partnership with JUST Goods, we are also currently in the process of organizing several truckloads of JUST Water donations to benefit food banks located in areas around the Southwest of the United States that have been severely affected by the recent winter storms. Dedication to family and community is ingrained in our culture. And to further demonstrate this commitment, beginning this year, we are offering our U.S. shoreside team members a paid volunteer day to give back to community programs of their choice. On the environmental front, we are proud to have improved our score in our second CDP climate change submission to a B, which is higher than the marine transport sector, North America and global average. For 2021, we will be focused on enhancing our ESG disclosures to provide additional transparency. I look forward to sharing additional details with you as we continue on our ESG journey. Turning to Slide 13. I'd like to leave you with a few final key takeaways.

First, we are focused on the execution of our road map to relaunch as quickly as possible, and we'll continue to work with our expert advisors, global public health authorities and government agencies to refine our science-backed plans for a swift, safe and healthy return to cruising. Second, strong future demand for cruising across all brands, source markets and deployments continue. And early indications for 2022 bookings are extremely positive, with load factors besting our previous high by a substantial margin. Lastly, we continue to keep our longer-term strategic and financial priorities in focus, and we will be ready to execute on our recovery plans to improve our balance sheet. The strong future demand we are experiencing, coupled with the positive momentum in the public health front, bodes extremely well for our prospects.

And with that, Josh, please, let's open the call for questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you, Mr. Del Rio. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Brandt Montour with JPMorgan. You may proceed with your question.

Brandt Montour -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Hey everyone. Good morning and thanks for taking my questions. I just wanted to maybe follow back up, Frank, on your comments on Alaska. You sort of referenced the industry's attempt to try and salvage some of the Alaskan season, I assume for the sailings that are leaving and arriving from Seattle where I know you guys do much of your business. So I guess maybe you could just give us your view on the potential success of those talks. And then just remind us the portion of your Alaska business that's in and out of Seattle.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. It's difficult to predict what the outcome will be. We're encouraged that the situation with Alaska and the Canadian closure until spring of '22 has been noted by various government officials, and they're trying to do their best. As you know, tourism is the third largest industry in Alaska. And for certain Alaskan coastal communities, cruising is over 90% of their tourism business. And so if we can't operate in Alaska in 2021, that will be two years that they will go without this infusion of business activity, and that's going to be difficult for them. And so we're hopeful, cautiously optimistic. It's a lot of hoops to jump through, both from the Canadian side and also, let's face it, we cannot operate as of today in U.S. waters and Alaska waters. So we have suspended taking new bookings on Alaska. I think the whole industry has. But we do hope -- we do hold out some hope that these initiatives led by the Alaskan delegation can open up Alaska for 2021.

Brandt Montour -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Great. And then I wanted to also ask about the relaunch efforts in the 1Q that you reversed, and I think that you made the announcement that you would repatriate some crew. I think that was as of late January, you made that announcement. And so I guess with the latest murmur in kind of the industry that you could get CDC guidance maybe any day now. I just want to reconcile those two things and understand maybe your time line and your decision process to send folks home.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. I think there -- let's clarify a couple of things. The CDC guidance that we, as an industry, are expecting sometime in the future and I won't label it as a few days because I simply don't know. It could be a few days. It could be a few weeks. We simply don't know. That doesn't -- that is the next phase, the next phase of this multiphase approach that the CDC is taking. I don't believe that we are awaiting, in the next few days, the green light to cruise. That would not be correct. But in terms of our decision to pull back, look, when the CDC Conditional Sail Order first came out, there was great expectation. We had a Conditional Sail Order, and it proved to be more difficult than we first expected. We also were in the middle of a spike in the number of cases. And so it became obvious to us that the initial expectation that maybe the industry could begin to cruise in the first quarter, which as you know, is heavily focused on Caribbean theater of operations was not going to take place.

And so we took the difficult decision to reduce our cash burn, repatriate those crew members back home and cut down on the marketing expenses that we have begun to ramp up to -- along with the ships that we thought we could operate. And so today, I would tell you that we are in a better place, a more encouraging place than we were even just six weeks ago. At the end of the day, I think the prevalence of the disease in our own country and around the world will be the greatest indicator of when we can resume cruising. And the prevalence is dropping. And we believe, based on all the experts that we talk to, including a Healthy Sail Panel that we're going to see a continuation of the significant drop in cases as we enter spring/summer, as we continue to vaccinate over 1.5 million Americans a day, as more people get infected and recover. So all those things point into a direction where the prevalence should drop considerably, giving us a better opportunity to restart operations.

Brandt Montour -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Very helpful. Thanks to the comments.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Steve Wieczynski with Stifel. You may proceed with your question.

Steve Wieczynski -- Stifel -- Analyst

Hey, good morning, guys. Just a-Frank, to add on to that, your last commentary there. If the CDC gave you guys kind of the all clear kind of smoke signal, to get to that test phase component and to start up the test cruises, is that still -- would you still need about 90 days? Or could you shorten that up a little bit?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

No. We think that it can be shortened. I know that there is a 60-day sort of waiting period. The conversations we've been having with them, it's not a hard 60 days. I think it could be less. But how much less? I don't know. We've not received that kind of specificity on these guidelines. But we generally believe that from the moment that we get the green light, depending on where the ships are that you want to stand up, depending on the seasonality, summer is a -- where are the ships in summer? Generally, they're in Europe. They're in Alaska. Where are they in the fall/winter? They're primarily in the Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal, around the world.

But I think for planning purposes, we'd like to give ourselves that 90-day window, more or less. And so we've canceled cruises through the end of May. So if you count with your fingers, we -- it's basically March one, so all of March, all of April, all of May. And it's sequential. We keep bookings and cruising -- cruises available as long as we believe there is a chance that we can operate. Once we know we start entering that 90-day-or-so window, and we owe it to everyone in the ecosystem, whether it's travel agents, consumers, our own employees, the crew to cancel cruises in the future. So we're always hopeful, always hopeful that the public health situation improves and that we can restart as soon as we possibly can.

Steve Wieczynski -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. Got you. And then the second question would be around out-year booking trends across your brands. And I know you indicated that booking trends seemed pretty similar across all three brands. But I wanted to dig in a little bit more into your luxury brands given the strong pent-up demand we have seen from the 60-plus age demographic across other consumer verticals. And I guess the question is, has that demographic been very active in terms of booking? And has there been any changes in their preference in terms of length of itinerary or destination? I hope that makes sense.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. It does make sense, Steve. Look, early in the pandemic, people were writing off the mature market. And it's been anything but that. So as you know, the upscale brands tend to book further out than the contemporary brand partly because of the itineraries. The longer, more exotic itineraries, everything else being equal, people book further out. And so we're continuing to see that. I mean both Oceania and Regent are nearly 40% -- 40% booked for 2022. That's much better than they've ever been at this stage of the booking cycle. And so these are folks who are typically over the age of 65. The average age at Oceania and Regent is consistently in the 66, 67 age range. And these are the folks who are getting the vaccine first. And they've been cooped up, and they want to go out. I mean they're no different than 40-year olds or 30-year olds. They've got the money, and they're booking further and further out. As we said in our prepared remarks, the booking curve is now double what it normally is. And that's because of two reasons: one, there are literally no bookings being made for the next three or four months sailing because they've been canceled; and people are booking further and further out. People know that this pandemic will end someday. And that someday is tomorrow but further out.

So we have more visibility today in our future business than we've ever had. And so that's one of the things that encourages me the most. I mean I have a lot of things to worry about these days, Steve. Fundamental consumer demand and our ability to fill our ships at strong pricing is not one of them. And to be able to do what we're doing in terms of the load factors and new bookings, new cash bookings with the de minimis amount of marketing that we're doing, with the travel agency system being less than 100%, it's truly remarkable and again points to what we've been saying per year, the resiliency of the consumer, the resiliency of those who love to cruise. It's a great value. That hasn't changed, and people are going to get back to the high seas. There's no question about that

Steve Wieczynski -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks for the color Frank. Appreciate it..

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Steve.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Robin Farley with UBS. You may proceed with your question.

Robin Farley -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks. Yes, just looking at some other cruise lines that are operating in Asia and have operated in Europe. I'm just curious, are the cruise lines sharing their learnings and protocols, particularly thinking of the cruise line that you're on the Healthy Sail Panel with, whether you're kind of getting the benefit of those starts in other regions?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Yes, look, we don't compete on safety and health issues. And the industry has been very, very cooperative with one another. We do share our findings. We find that those companies, brands that are operating, whether it's in Asia or in Europe, are very much forthcoming. Much like Royal and us developed the Healthy Sail Panel, the 74 protocols, we made them available to the entire industry. The entire industry has adopted them. So it's a very good and healthy dynamic.

Robin Farley -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay. Great. And then just a quick follow-up. I think I can guess the answer to this, but you guys have not sold any ships and some other companies have. I know you have the youngest fleet out there. And so maybe the answer is that you have no interest or need to sell any ships. Are you -- is that something you've thought about at all or had conversations about?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

No. We -- you pointed out, we do have the youngest fleet. Every one of our ships produce positive margins, positive EBITDA, a good ROI on their book value, so we have no interest. Only being the smallest of the big three is an advantage, I believe, during this time. We only have to worry about 28 vessels and not some greater number. And also, we're very eager to start taking delivery of the vessels that we have on order, which will begin in third quarter of 2022. We've been fortunate that during this pandemic, we didn't have to take any new deliveries. But by the same token, we have zero interest in selling any of our assets.

Robin Farley -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thank you.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Vince Ciepiel with Cleveland Research. You may proceed with your question.

Vince Ciepiel -- Cleveland Research -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my question. I'm curious, your perspective or updated thinking on the time line to get the full fleet back up and sailing, assuming you have some success with trial sailings and then begin revenue sailings on a few ships. From that point, about how long do you think it would take to get the whole fleet up and running again?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

We don't know when that start date is. As I said earlier, the -- directionally, we're heading in the right direction. The prevalence is decreasing. The vaccines are ramping up. We're all confident of the protocols enhanced by the vaccinations. What we have said in the past is that we think that from whatever date that it is that we start, that it will likely take six to seven months, assuming that the ports are open around the world. Remember, our ships are seasonal. One of the requirements is that the ports be open, the travel restrictions be lifted. So assuming that those hurdles are cleared, physically, we think it will take 6, seven months, so roughly a ship a week. And so for us to be 100% operative, we would have to start standing up vessels in the June/July time frame of this year so that we can be 100% by year-end, early '22.

Vince Ciepiel -- Cleveland Research -- Analyst

Great. It sounds similar to how you were thinking about it last time. And then on the future cruise credits, last time, you noted that, I think, 65%, 70% of those being canceled here recently were opting for future cruise credits versus cash. I was just curious if that kind of ratio has held. And then also, I think as of last time, you had about half of your FCC still outstanding, which represents an interesting and good base of pent-up demand. I'm curious if that number still held as well.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

I'll tell you that since -- I forgot the exact date. But since the fall, at least, when we do cancel a set of sailings like we recently did for the month of May of 22, everyone gets a cash refund. We're no longer offering the option of an FCC or cash. We have the liquidity. FCCs are dilutive to future business. We don't want to negatively impact future business anymore than the dilutive effect of the existing FCCs. So today, there is no choice, you get your money back. And in terms of the percentage of FCCs that have been redeemed, it varies by brand. But at the consolidated age level, roughly 40% of all FCCs that we have issued over time have now been redeemed. So there still remains 60% of the FCCs issued in that bucket of folks who've got an ability to rebook. And look, we -- somehow, in some quarters of the investment world perhaps, FCC bookings are seen as not as good as a cash booking. I think they're both important.

Customers who took an FCC showed a great deal of confidence and support in our business. And we want to make sure that they get their cruise. And so if we have to extend the booking date or if we have to extend the sailing date as the suspensions continue, we will do so. We actively encourage people to redeem their FCC. We want them to take a cruise. And we also want to be able to clear the deck, so to speak, as soon as possible so that when we do resume cruising, we can get back to what we do best, which is selling cruises at the highest yields in the industry, both on ticket and on onboard revenue so that we can resume our positive momentum that we had at the end of 2019.

Mark A. Kempa -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

And Vince, just to add on that, I think you had mentioned that it was a big book of business. You're absolutely right. So as we think about that going forward, that gives us opportunities where we can really get more efficient and reduce some of our operating expenses because our -- simply speaking, our acquisition cost will come down over time with that business. So as Frank said, the FCCs are a good booking, just like any other booking, and it's a positive sign having such a significant amount on our books.

Vince Ciepiel -- Cleveland Research -- Analyst

Great. I think that makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Jaime Katz with Morningstar. You may proceed with your question.

Jaime Katz -- Morningstar -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. I'm hoping that you guys will help us think through the cash burn over the first half. I get that there is this inflated number for 1Q. But theoretically, if you're going to start ramping in June, you're going to see some of those costs to repeat as you bring people back to the ships and reman them again. So is $170 million a month a better number than some of the numbers maybe you've given out in the past for ongoing cash burn as some of these ships come back online?

Mark A. Kempa -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Jamie, it's Mark. Yes, I'll take that. So when we really reduced our cash burn in the third -- when you look at the second quarter, third quarter, we were down to levels of $150 million, $160 million. It's slightly elevated in the fourth quarter, primarily due to some additional cash interest and some of our start-up activities, which we noted. Some of that is lingering into Q1 as well with the start-up activities. And then beyond that, in this environment today, our expectation would be that we're going to get back down to those levels we had seen in the earlier part of the year, absent the clear visibility and clear indication that we can start back up. So again, we started this exercise in the fourth quarter. We were hopeful with the Conditional Sails Order that we were going to be able to operate early in 2021.

Obviously, that proved to be a false hope. But it's really going to be dependent upon when we get that green light and when we get that visibility. But again, if you look at the fourth quarter and the first quarter, as we've outlined, I think I said on my prepared remarks today, roughly $10 million to $15 million a month was related to some of those restart costs. That's probably the levels you would start to see once we, in earnest, restart back, whether it's a second quarter, third quarter, but again, based on when we get that clear path of resumption.

Jaime Katz -- Morningstar -- Analyst

Okay. And then I think there was a comment in the slide deck that said, 60% of the bookings were from loyalists, which would imply 40% were new cruisers. And I know you guys have talked a lot about some of the inroads you've made with millennials in the past. And so I'm curious if there has been any different demographic patterns you've seen across the fleet in the more recent bookers.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. I will tell you that the sweet spot is for folks 55 plus. Historically, that is the cohort that the greatest percentage of our guests across all three brands comes from. And we have seen a slight increase in the proportion of total bookings coming from that cohort. And as I said earlier, that is partly because those are the cohorts that have been vaccinated more so than younger ones. These folks are retired, semi-retired. The stock market has been doing well. Investments have been doing well. They've got cash. And these are people who tend to travel more and they haven't been able to. So the pent-up demand for them for this cohort, I think, is greater than younger cohorts.

Jaime Katz -- Morningstar -- Analyst

Thank you.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Stephen Grambling with Goldman Sachs. You may proceed with your question.

Stephen Grambling -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Yes. Good morning. Thank you. I know there's a lot of moving parts still, but within that six to seven months that you cited for relaunching a full fleet, how do you think about occupancy at the ship level within the current CDC framework? And how might the vaccine change that?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Well, the CDC, to the best of my knowledge, has yet to give the industry a target occupancy. For our own internal working purposes, we assume that at the beginning, that maximum occupancy will be in the 50% range. So think about this. Today, our entire fleet is available to book, let's say, in the third quarter, in July moving forward. Every single ship in the fleet has passengers. There's bookings on them. When we know we're going to start, we're not going to be able to start all 28 vessels. As I said, it's going to be a little bit, maybe a week, one a week, something like that, which means that there's going to be a lot of customers who are booked today who will be displaced. And part of that displacement will be in cancellation, people will get their refunds. But part of it is that people will move from the Norwegian Jewel in Alaska to the Norwegian Bliss in Alaska, or they'll move from the Oceania Riviera in Europe to the Oceania Marina in Europe. And so we believe that there are enough bookings today. If we never took another booking, let's say, for Q3, assuming a reduced capacity at the start, then we don't have to take any more bookings for Q3.

And as you move forward from the start date, you have more ships coming online, less ships that are going to be -- those customers going to be displaced. And so there'll be a rebalancing, if you will, at some point, where we do need to start taking more bookings. But my guess is that, that will be beginning month three, four forward. And that's what we were doing. And the restart that Mark and I discussed earlier in our remarks, when we thought we were going to start in Q1, because there's always a book of business there waiting, hoping to cruise that when we do know we're going to start, it won't be the entire fleet and, therefore, we have excess bookings, if you will, at the beginning. So again, of all the things we worry about, filling vessels, generating demand just isn't one of them. But we have -- we don't have a short-term issue as we just described. And as you heard me say earlier, 2022, more of a longer term, business is better than ever.

Stephen Grambling -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

And I guess one of the other things that's within your control, as we think about the operations and expense structure, what are some of the things that you think could be structurally changed coming out of this that could ultimately make the ships more profitable? And as a related follow-up, are there any considerations that we should have on dry dock days coming out of layup? Should that be lower? Or could it be higher?

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes.

Mark A. Kempa -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I'll take that.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

I think I'll let Mark answer that.

Mark A. Kempa -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I think first, Steve, on the dry docks. Look, ships have to dry dock. They have to stay within the classification society rules. And what I can tell you is while we have pulled back on our capital expenditures and some of that is related to investments, that enhancements that we would have made during dry docks, we're not stopping dry docks. Dry docks have to occur by class. And there are certain investments that we've continued to make. A good example of that is some of the scrubbers on the Breakaway and Getaway. That was -- they were scheduled to be completed in early 2023. And because the ships are out of service and going through their normal dry dock periods, we're able to install those sooner and get the benefit once we restart operating. But I think when you look at the ships going forward and you look at the cost structure on the ships, by and large, we've always said this, the cost structure on a ship is generally a highly fixed cost structure.

That said, there's always going to be pockets of opportunity. And I think as we think about our costs going forward, we're looking at shoreside. This pause has really given us a chance to reevaluate every cost, everything we do from our supply chain to everything we do on our shoreside operations. And I think we've mentioned this in the past that we're making some pretty significant learnings in our marketing area. We continue to transform toward the digital world. You get more bang for the dollar there. We're garnering significant amount of booking activity with vis-a-vis a less marketing spend. So we're taking those learnings. And every day that we're in pause, we're going to continue to look at every nook and cranny and ask ourselves, "Are we doing this correctly?"

So I think there's opportunity for cost enhancement. And then further, as you look further down the future and you think about how does that translate to margin expansion, it's going to be a combination of reduced cost. We have more efficient capacity coming online with our nine-ship newbuild program. And that's going to help drive margin expansion in addition to, again, driving the top line, driving increased pricing that we've always been the industry leader in pricing. And as we think about that, if you look at the industry, capacity has been reduced. So we think that's going to provide even more of an opportunity to help rebuild margins and drive that margin expansion.

Stephen Grambling -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

That's super helpful. Thanks so much.

Mark A. Kempa -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Operator, we have time for one more question this morning.

Operator

Thank you. Our last question comes from Ivan Feinseth with Tigress Financial. You may proceed with your question.

Ivan Feinseth -- Tigress Financial -- Analyst

Thank you for taking my question. It looks like there's some really bright light at the end of this tunnel. And while there was concern in the beginning that the industry would have to heavily discount to get people back on the ship, it definitely seems not to be the case. Now do you feel -- or there's any indication that there's even more shadow demand of people who are? There's a lot of people on waiting list to get vaccinated. And once people are vaccinated, and then more itineraries open up that you will even see more demand for trips.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes, thanks for the question. Look, the industry has been shut down at least one year. That means 30 million people that would have cruised in that year haven't cruised. And this is a finite capacity business. I can't cruise with 150% occupancy. So there's going to be a squeeze play here that demand is going to exceed supply, especially after the withdrawal of some 20-plus ships from the so-called North American fleet. So you got less supply. You've got pent-up demand. You've got people with money in their pocket. I think this is just the making of a boom time for the cruise industry. And since we can't expand supply any faster than it's coming online, pricing is what's going to dictate the day. And we're seeing it. I mean it's astonishing to me in the 25-plus years I've been in this business that given the fact that travel agents are not at full strength, we're spending a fraction of what we normally spend. The bad news cycle of lockdowns and pandemics and travel restrictions and quarantine, that business is as robust as it is, not only in volume, but we're able to tick up prices. So when we say that we just do a couple of connect the dots here, 40% of FCCs have been redeemed. Those FCCs had a 25% premium on them.

That we are at a flat to slightly ahead of pricing of the all-time high pricing, including the dilutive effect of those 125% FCCs and that we are so well booked into the future. I mean I've never seen such a positive set of circumstance. We just need to get back to work. We need to get cruising operating again. And we're hopeful. Look, as much as that bothers me to see other sectors of the travel community open, I'm happy for them. Trust me, I'm happy for the casino operators and the airlines and the hotel operators and the resorts. I want to be happy for us as well. And I think our day should be approaching, should be approaching, Ivan, given the advances we're making in the vaccine front, prevalence is coming down, the industry -- the protocols we put in place, no other sector of the travel business or any other business has put forth as many comprehensive protocols to combat spread of the virus as we have. And we're eager to get back to work. And we're happy to see it starting in Asia, starting in Europe. We're going to see, I think, more vessels starting in Europe soon. And so we're encouraged by all those developments. But at the end of the day, we've got to get back to work soon. And we're ready. We're all ready. Thank you.

Ivan Feinseth -- Tigress Financial -- Analyst

And also, when the CD -- right now, you're planning on 50% capacity. But working with your Healthy Sail Panel, do you feel once people are vaccinated and comfortable that ramping up capacity quickly because in a cruise ship, you're kind of interacting with a lot of people. And whether you're at 50% or even 75% capacity, that's not going to be the determining factor. The factor is people just being vaccinated.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

That's right, That's right. And so...

Ivan Feinseth -- Tigress Financial -- Analyst

And it's allowing you to get to a higher level of capacity faster.

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Look, I agree. I think we all knew that vaccinations were ultimately going to be the deciding factor. And the quicker we vaccinate or we get to the point of herd immunity, which by most accounts, that time frame is in the July/August time, so sometime in summer. The experts believe that by the end of April, anyone who wants a vaccine, at least, in the United States, even in Europe, Canada can -- will have access to one. That all bodes well. But look, one step at a time. We just have to start. We have to start. We have to build momentum. We have to demonstrate to government agencies, society as a whole, our guests, our crew and to ourselves that we can't de facto operate safely in a low prevalence environment where crew and guests are vaccinated. And then this will pivot from being a pandemic to being an endemic. And that's what we have today with the flu. This will be, if you listen to the experts, that's what they say, that this pandemic will pivot to being a seasonal event and it won't be the scary thing that it is today. Thank you, everyone. We truly appreciate your call-in today, your questions, your continued support for our great industry and our great company. And I look forward to speaking to you come May. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 61 minutes

Call participants:

Andrea DeMarco -- Vice President of Investor Relations And Corporate Communications

Frank J. Del Rio -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Mark A. Kempa -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Brandt Montour -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Steve Wieczynski -- Stifel -- Analyst

Robin Farley -- UBS -- Analyst

Vince Ciepiel -- Cleveland Research -- Analyst

Jaime Katz -- Morningstar -- Analyst

Stephen Grambling -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Ivan Feinseth -- Tigress Financial -- Analyst

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