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Old September 17th, 2000, 11:08 PM
George in NY
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Default RE: Free-style cruising

Cruising crazy, I have tried not to " miss " much. You are correct in part, NCL is now a HOLDING company, humm just as Premier became imagine that. You are absolutely correct " There is no more stop gap measures to make NCL profitable " the last was selling stock in thier HOLDING company. That stock by the way has been chopped 50% form it highs which wasn't all that high. Now at 10 11/16 down from a high of 20 or so.

"NCL was very profitable in 1999" well they were, at least by thier figures profitable in 99. Let's see they did 870 million dollars and managed to NET ( the only thing that counts ) 14 million. But as you say they were profitable. Carnival did 3,497 MILLION and NETTED 1,027 MILLION. Someone do the profit to sales for me will you, I get confused and sometimes miss stuff."

" In December Carnival tried to purchase NCL for 1.9 billion Dollars including Dept and was rebuffed " Carnival said you are worth 1.9 billion to us, they let Star have it for 2.1 billion ( your numbers ) or some such. I look at it that Carnival said to Star, you want to overpay go right ahead. I never said that NCL was going bankrupt like Premier just that it was heading down the plank so to speak. I have no doubt that in a year or two that NCL will be happily sailing along in the Asian market, at least what will be left of her after the holding company starts wheeling and dealing.

Look at the pressures NCL faces, over 17,000 berths added last year alone. There are over 15 billion in new ship orders coming as well. Yes some will replace older ships but many will just add to the inventory. Yes NCL has new ships ordered. So have other lines, Celebrity's first ship was bought buy them after another line ( Costa I believe ) defaulted on the purchase. Now that I think of it the Sky was originally contracted for Costa and NCL bought the keel when they cancelled. Let's not even go into that this year added fuel bills alone could easily put them in red with as this a margin they have already.

"combined Market Capitilization of 4 billion Dollars " if you say so.

Here's where NCL goes. Star was willing to pay more because they are doing a holding company play around deal, sell some stock which you can barely get financials for and has seen a 50% haircut since it came out and trades an average vol of 2,000 shares a day. I know companies making cookies in thier basement that do more than that. So Star takes the ships, carves them out for Asian markets, sells off the older ones, renames and remarkets. The holding company will make money chopping this baby up into little pieces and sailing the rest in none US markets.

Here's some other signs. Big Neil sailed the Sky <http://www.bigneils.com/> in January. I value his opinion as an advid cruiser and someone I have interacted with through the years regarding cruises. From his review.

"Our cabin steward did a fair job. He never did put the beds together correctly and they kept sliding apart. He didn't do a very thorough job cleaning either. "

"I didn't think much of the buffet food on this ship. I am not a buffet fan, but this stuff was definitely the pits. Poor selections, some trays were empty, and it was poorly laid out. One morning there were green beans offered for breakfast. I don't think I ever saw green beans on a breakfast buffet before. It even looked sloppy. Many tables still had dirty dishes on them long after the people left. "

"I thought the service on this ship was poor. None of the help seemed to have any motivation. Our dining room waiter and busboy were spread to thin. I don't care how good you are, you can't serve 32 places and give everyone the service that is needed. "

"The only thing that saved this cruise from being a disaster for us was the "Great Group" of people on this ship. There were more negatives than positives for us. We went to have a good time and we did just that. "

This is thier NEW ship! Not enough staff, first sign. Unmotivated staff, second sign. FREESTYLE cruising third sign. What does freestyle do for the LINE? Less apparent that you have less help maybe?

We could discuss this one all day but why bother. I will say plainly that NCL is on the way out the door in the American market and probably as a cruise line...time will tell.

Let me end by saying that I am just calling it as I see it just as I did with Premier in April. This doesn't make me happy and I'm not an NCL basher. I wouldn't have sailed them so many times in past years if I had wanted to see thier demise take place. The original owners were the ones that killed this company, the holding company is only going to clean up the place setting.

George in NY
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