February 22, 2007
Carnival sells Windstar to Ambassadors International
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its Windstar Cruises brand to Ambassadors International Inc. (Nasdaq: AMIE).
Windstar Cruises, which operates three sailing vessels, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Holland America Line, a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc.
Ambassadors International, Inc. operates Majestic America Line, formed in 2006 through the combination of American West Steamboat Company and the vessels of Delta Queen Steamboat Company,
Under the terms of the agreement, Windstar will be sold for $100 million, $40 million of which is payable in cash and assumption of liabilities, and Carnival will provide mortgage financing for $60 million. The loan will be payable over 10 years at seven percent interest, collateralized by the three Windstar ships.
"Windstar is an outstanding and unique cruise product and has garnered an extremely loyal following, however, Carnival Corporation & plc's growth strategy is focused on expanding our core growth brands and opening new markets," said Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation & plc chairman and CEO. "We made the decision to exit from the niche cruise business some time ago and the sale of Windstar is in line with that strategy. Last year we made a decision to cease operation of UK's Swan Hellenic and transfer its one ship to the Princess Cruises brand. Both of these are excellent products but simply do not fit into our future growth plans," he explained.
Added Stein Kruse, president and chief executive officer, Holland America Line, "We are pleased to have a committed buyer like Ambassadors International to take over Windstar. The transaction has been structured to ensure a smooth transition for all parties. Holland America Line will continue to operate the company through a transitional services agreement in the short term which includes vessel, reservations and other operational functions."
Windstar Cruises' three ships include the 312-passenger Wind Surf and the 148-passenger Wind Star and Wind Spirit.
Carnival expects the transaction to close in the second quarter of 2007, subject to any applicable regulatory requirements, and to be neutral to earnings on an annualized basis for the 12-month period following closing.
Windstar Cruises has a three ship fleet that includes the 312-passenger Wind Surf, and the sister 148-passenger ships Wind Star and Wind Spirit. The three ships are all motor-sail-yachts that feature itineraries in the Mediterranean during the Spring, Summer and Fall, and Winter cruises in the Caribbean and Costa Rica.
At the end of 2006 the Wind Surf completed an extensive enhancement and renovation program. Both the Wind Star and Wind Spirit are scheduled to undergo significant renovations in 2007.
"We are pleased to be acquiring such an iconic brand from Holland America Line," stated Joe Ueberroth, Chairman and CEO of Ambassadors International, Inc. "As we now enter the international cruising segment, we benefit from the quality and expertise that Holland America Line brought to the operation of Windstar Cruises. The acquisition of Windstar Cruises completes another step in our growth plan to become a leader in the luxury, small ship cruise market."
"We are committed to operate Windstar as it exists today, including its published itineraries, while we take steps to further improve the exceptional experience for our guests," added David Giersdorf, President of Ambassadors Cruise Group, "We look forward to welcoming the extraordinary officers, crew and personnel of Windstar Cruises to our family, which extends our fleet to ten ships and approximately 2,200 passenger berths."