Lindblad Expeditions Holdings’ 2021’s tour revenues of $147.1 mill was an increase on the $64.8 mill posted for 2020, the company reported.
This increase was driven by a $13.2 mill rise at the Lindblad segment, primarily due to the resumption of expeditions beginning in June, last year and by a $51.5 mill increase at the Land Experiences segment, primarily due to the ramp up of operations during 2021.
However, the group reported a net loss of of $124.7 mill, $2.41 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $100.4 mill, $2.01 per diluted share, for 2020.
The $24.2 mill loss increase primarily reflected the impact of COVID-19 on operations, as well as a $7.4 mill rise in depreciation and amortisation, due mainly to a full year of ownership of the ’National Geographic Endurance’ following her March, 2020 delivery and the launch of the ’National Geographic Resolution’ in September, 2021.
These decreases were partially offset by a $15.6 mill increase in other income, mainly due to the utilisation of the CERTS grant for covered expenses.
Full year adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $64 mill, which was a decrease of $11.9 mill, compared to 2020. This decrease was driven by $22.8 mill decline in the Lindblad segment and an $11 mill improvement at the Land Experiences segment.
Lindblad segment adjusted EBITDA for the year was a loss of $67.2 mill, some $22.8 mill greater than 2020, as increased tour revenues, due to the resumption of expeditions beginning June, 2021, were more than offset by the higher cost of tours, increased personnel costs and higher marketing spend related to restarting operations, as well as increased credit card commissions related to final payments for upcoming trips and deposits for future travel.
Land Experiences segment adjusted EBITDA of $3.2 mill was an improvement of $11 mill, compared to 2020, primarily due to additional trips, partially offset by higher cost of tours and increased personnel costs related to the ramp in operations and increased marketing costs to drive future bookings.
Fourth quarter 2021 tour revenues of $65.6 mill was an increase of $65.2 mill, compared to the same period in 2020. This was driven by a $42.5 mill increase at the Lindblad segment and by a $22.7 mill increase at the Land Experiences segment.
Lindblad segment revenue increased primarily due to the resumption of expeditions beginning in June, 2021, compared with the rescheduling of nearly all expeditions, due to COVID-19 in 4Q20.
The 4Q21 net loss was $27.8 mill, $0.54 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $31 mill, $0.59 per diluted share, in 4Q20. The $3.2 mill improvement primarily reflects the resumption of expeditions and operation of additional trips, as well as a $11 mill increase in other income mainly due to the utilisation of the CERTS grant for covered expenses.
These increases were partially offset by a $5.4 mill rise in depreciation and amortisation, due mainly to the launch of the ’National Geographic Resolution’ in September, 2021, a $2.2 mill increase in interest expense, due to additional borrowings and higher rates and a $0.1 mill foreign currency loss in the current year versus a $1.6 mill foreign currency gain in 4Q20.
Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $13.7 mill, an improvement of $6.1 mill, compared to the same period in 2020. This increase was driven by a $6.6 mill improvement at the Land Experiences segment, partially offset by a $0.5 mill decrease at the Lindblad segment.
Lindblad segment adjusted EBITDA loss of $15.9 mill was a decrease of $0.5 mill versus the fourth quarter a year ago, as the revenue from the resumption of expeditions was offset by higher cost of tours, increased personnel costs and higher marketing spend related to ramping up operations, as well as by increased credit card commissions on final payments for upcoming trips and deposits for future travel.
Land Experiences segment adjusted EBITDA of $2.2 mill was an improvement of $6.6 mill versus 4Q20, primarily due to additional trips, partially offset by higher cost of tours and increased personnel costs related to the additional departures and increased marketing costs to drive future bookings.
CEO, Dolf Berle (pictured), said “Lindblad has been delivering the joy of exploration for over four decades and we couldn’t be more excited to have nine of our 10 ships once again providing immersive experiences in the world’s most remarkable destinations.
“In the short-term there is certainly pent-up demand for high-quality experiential travel and while there is likely to be continued choppiness during the first half of 2022, guest demand for future travel remains strong with bookings pacing well ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
“Over the long-term, the strategic steps we have taken throughout to the pandemic to expand our fleet with the delivery of two new Polar ships and to diversify our product portfolio with the addition of three unique land-based travel offerings, has us well positioned to deliver results significantly above pre-pandemic levels and will allow us to build additional shareholder value in the years ahead,” he said.
Lindblad resumed ship operations in June, 2021 and currently has nine of its 10 owned vessels operating. Expedition cruise operations restarted with three ships in Alaska and another in the Galapagos and subsequently operations were resumed on the majority of the remaining vessels with additional ships operating in Alaska, the Galapagos, Iceland, the Pacific Northwest, Baja California’s Sea of Cortez, Central America and Antarctica.
The company said that it continued to work with local authorities on plans to operate in additional areas during 2022. As the COVID-19 virus effects travel restrictions in various locations around the world, it also continues to work with its guests to reschedule travel plans and refund payments, as applicable, for those expeditions and trips that the company is not able to operate.
Lindblad said that it believed there were a variety of strategic advantages that enable it to deploy its ships safely and quickly, while mitigating the risk of COVID-19, as travel restrictions are lifted. The most notable is the size of its owned and operated vessels, which range from 48 to 148 pax, allowing for a highly controlled environment that includes stringent cleaning protocols.
All guests, crew and staff are required to be fully vaccinated and the relatively small size of the ships allows for the efficient and effective testing of guests and crew prior to boarding. In addition, the majority of expeditions take place in remote locations where human interactions with persons not on the expedition are limited, so there is less opportunity for external influence.
While the company’s ships were not in operation, the majority of the fleet was being maintained with minimally required crew on board to ensure they complied with all necessary regulations and could be fully put back into service quickly as needed.
Ahead of the relaunching of each ship, crew levels were increased as necessary to prepare each vessel for operations, as well as for crew training and vaccinations.
Prior to resuming operations, the company employed a variety of cost reduction and cash preservation measures, including reducing ship and land-based expedition costs, such as capital expenditures, crew payroll, land costs, fuel and food, and meaningfully reducing general and administrative expenses through reduced payroll and the elimination of all non-essential travel, office expenses and discretionary spending.
Lindblad said that it also accessed available capital under existing debt facilities and through the issuance of preferred stock during 2020.
With the majority of operations resuming, operating costs are ramping back up, but given the continued uncertainty around COVID-19 and given that guest counts have not yet returned to traditional levels, the company continues to minimise expenditures as appropriate.
On 4th February, 2022, the company issued $360 mill of 6.75% senior secured notes, due 2027 and used the proceeds to prepay in full all outstanding borrowings under the existing term loan, including the Main Street Loan, and revolving credit facility. It also entered into a new $45 mill revolving credit facility, which remains undrawn and matures in February, 2027.
As of 31st December, 2021, Lindblad had $150.8 mill in unrestricted cash and $21.9 mill in restricted cash primarily related to deposits on future travel originating from US ports and credit card reserves.
During 2021, the company received a $27 mill grant under the US Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, which provided grants to eligible motor coach, school bus, passenger vessel and pilotage companies.
As at the end of last year, the company had total debt of $558.5 mill and was in compliance with all of its debt covenants.
As the company continues to ramp up operations, monthly cash usage will increase, as costs are incurred in operating expeditions, additional ships are prepared for a return to service and cash is spent to market and advertise upcoming expeditions and trips.
“It also anticipated a significant increase in guest payments, as it receives final payments for upcoming expeditions and trips, as well as deposits for new reservations for future travel.