Norwegian Cruise Line Looking for Baltic Alternatives; Russia Calls in Limbo

Norwegian Breakaway in Saint Petersburg

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings may be looking for alternative ports in the Baltic for its Norwegian, Oceania and Regent brands, should the company not be able to call in Saint Petersburg this summer, according to Mark Kempa, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"We are looking at alternative ports as we speak," Kempa said, on the company's year end and fourth quarter earnings call on Thursday. 

Frank Del Rio, President and CEO, added: "The Baltic ships will stay in the Baltic ... if we cannot go to Saint Petersburg there are many alternative ports in the surrounding countries."

Del Rio said the company would find alternative ports, or overnight in nearby ports if needed.

"It is disappointing because Saint Petersburg is one of the crown jewels of (an itinerary) but certainly there are alternatives," he said.

Kempa downplayed the potential effect of impacts to the Baltic season and noted the company had about 5 percent of its deployment in the Baltic this summer, which he said was weighted in favor of the Norwegian brand.

"This is something we've been thinking about, and worst case scenario. if we're not able to call on Saint Petersburg or the surrounding areas, there's plenty of other ports in the Scandinavian region that we have the ability to call on," Kempa noted.

Kempa said it would not be a huge impact, with about 50 sailings calling in Saint Petersburg this summer, but did concede that the Russian port was a premiere destination on Baltic itineraries. 

"Europe is a big continent too," Kempa said. "This is affecting a very small portion of Europe and there's a lot of other areas that we can operate in."

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