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Other is net of a $0.2 million deferred tax asset. Recorded in prepaid expenses and other current assets, and other long-term assets. For the year ended December 31, 2020, $5.3 million was recognized as a loss on foreign currency in the consolidated statements of operations, and $2.4 million, was recognized, net of tax, as a component of other comprehensive income (loss) within stockholders’ equity. 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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from ______________to ______________

 

Commission File Number 001-35898

 

LINDBLAD EXPEDITIONS HOLDINGS, INC.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

Delaware

 

27-4749725

(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification Number)

 

96 Morton Street, 9th Floor, New York, New York

 

10014

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(212) 261-9000

 

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

 

 

 

 

 

Common Stock, par value $0.0001 per share

 

LIND

 

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes ☐ No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act of 1934 during the past 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirement for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer ☐

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer ☐

Smaller reporting company

 

Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No ☒

 

As of June 30, 2020 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter), the aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $234.8 million based on the closing sales price of $7.72 on the NASDAQ Capital Market.

 

As of February 28, 2021, there were 49,906,428 shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:

 

Portions of the registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement relating to its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference in Part III, Items 10-14 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K as indicated herein.

 


 


 

 

 

 

LINDBLAD EXPEDITIONS HOLDINGS, INC.

Annual Report on Form 10-K

For the year ended December 31, 2020

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page(s)

 

 

PART I

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business

2

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

16

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

30

Item 2.

Properties

30

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

31

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

31

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

32

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

33

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of the Results of Operations and Financial Condition

35

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

50

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

50

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

50

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

51

Item 9B.

Other Information

55

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

55

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

55

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Shareholder Matters

55

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

55

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

55

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

56

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

58

 

Signatures

59

 

 

 

 

 

PART I

 

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

 

Any statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K (the “Form 10-K”) about our expectations, beliefs, plans, objectives, prospects, financial condition, assumptions or future events or performance are not historical facts and are “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined under the federal securities laws. These statements are often, but not always, made through the use of words or phrases such as “believe,” “anticipate,” “should,” “intend,” “plan,” “will,” “expects,” “estimates,” “projects,” “positioned,” “strategy,” “outlook” and similar words. You should read the statements that contain these types of words carefully. Such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from what is expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. There may be events in the future that we are not able to predict accurately or over which we have no control. Potential risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to:

 

 

suspended operations and disruptions to our business and operations related to COVID-19;

 

 

 

 

the impacts of COVID-19 on our financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, cash flows, employees, plans and growth;

 

 

 

 

the impacts of COVID-19 on future travel and the cruise and airline industries in general;

     
 

unscheduled disruptions in our business due to travel restrictions, weather events, mechanical failures, pandemics or other events; 

     

 

changes adversely affecting the business in which we are engaged;

 

 

 

 

management of our growth and our ability to execute on our planned growth;

 

 

 

 

our business strategy and plans;

 

 

 

 

our ability to maintain our relationship with National Geographic Society;

 

 

 

 

compliance with new and existing laws and regulations, including environmental regulations;

 

 

 

 

compliance with the financial and/or operating covenants in our debt arrangements;

 

 

 

 

adverse publicity regarding the travel and cruise industry in general;

 

 

 

 

loss of business due to competition;

 

 

 

 

the result of future financing efforts;

 

 

 

 

delays and costs overruns with respect to the construction and delivery of newly constructed vessels or financial difficulties of the shipyard constructing such vessels; and

 

 

 

 

those risks discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors.

 

We urge you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this report. We do not undertake any obligation to release publicly any revisions to such forward-looking statements to reflect events or uncertainties after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

 

Unless the context otherwise requires, in this Form 10-K, “Company,” “Lindblad,” “we,” “us,” “our,” and “ours” refer to Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc., and its subsidiaries.

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business

 

Overview

 

Lindblad provides expedition sailing and adventure travel experiences, fostering a spirit of exploration and discovery, using itineraries that feature up-close encounters with wildlife, nature, history and culture, and promote guest empowerment and interactivity. Our mission is to offer life-changing adventures around the world and pioneer innovative ways to allow our guests to connect with exotic and remote places. Our expedition ships are customized, nimble and intimately-scaled vessels that are able to venture where larger cruise ships cannot, thus allowing us to offer up-close experiences in the planet’s wild and remote places, as well as places of authentic culture and civilization. Many of these expeditions involve travel to remote places with limited infrastructure and ports (such as Antarctica and the Arctic), including places that are best accessed by a ship (such as the Galápagos, the Alaskan coast and Baja California’s Sea of Cortez), and foster active engagement by guests. Each expedition ship is designed to be comfortable and inviting, while being fully equipped with state-of-the-art tools for in-depth exploration. In addition to our sea-based expeditions, we offer land-based, conservation-focused expeditions across the globe from the Arctic to Zimbabwe primarily through our Natural Habitat, Inc. (“Natural Habitat”) subsidiary.

 

We choose to visit geographic areas based upon many factors, including weather, marine conditions, migration patterns and various natural phenomena. We continue to expand our travel offerings. In the northern hemisphere summer months, we primarily visit the High Arctic regions of the world, Alaska, the Canadian Maritimes, Europe, as well as the South Pacific, and in the northern hemisphere winter months, we primarily travel to Antarctica, South America, Costa Rica, Baja California and the Caribbean. The Galápagos Islands are a year-round destination offering a diverse variety of marine, land and airborne wildlife.

 

Our offerings appeal to a wide range of travelers, both individuals and families, with affluent individuals in the U.S. aged 50 years or older representing our largest demographic category. The quality of our offerings has enabled us to achieve and maintain premium pricing in the market instead of pursuing the type of discounting in which most large cruise lines that are focused on the broader market engage. Our product offering, value proposition and differentiated pricing approach have enabled us to achieve high net yields and occupancy rates.

 

We have a longstanding relationship with the National Geographic Society, which was founded on a shared interest in exploration, research, technology and conservation. This relationship includes co-selling, co-marketing and branding arrangements with National Geographic Partners, LLC (“National Geographic”) whereby our owned vessels carry the National Geographic name and National Geographic sells our expeditions through their internal travel divisions. We collaborate with National Geographic on expedition planning to enhance the guest experience by having National Geographic experts, including photographers, writers, marine biologists, naturalists, field researchers and film crews, join our expeditions. Guests have the ability to interface with these experts through lectures, excursions, dining and other experiences throughout their expedition.

 

Natural Habitat specializes in conservation-oriented adventures, providing life-enhancing forays into the natural world that benefit wild habitats and the animals and people who live there. Natural Habitat’s travel adventures provide unparalleled access to the planet's most extraordinary wildlife, landscapes and cultures. Natural Habitat’s unique itineraries that include access to private wildlife reserves, remote corners of national parks and distinctive, secluded and remote lodges and camps situated where wildlife viewing is best. Because of Natural Habitat’s commitment to environmentally friendly travel, including becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company in 2007, and the exceptional quality of our worldwide adventures, World Wildlife Fund (“WWF”) has selected Natural Habitat as their exclusive conservation travel partner. Through Natural Habitat’s relationship with WWF, their top scientists and staff collaborate with Natural Habitat in planning journeys to the world’s most important nature destinations.

 

Impact of COVID-19 on Operations

 

Due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the effects of travel restrictions around the world, we suspended or rescheduled the majority of our expeditions departing March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2021. We have been working with guests to amend travel plans and refund payments, as applicable. Our ships are currently being maintained with minimally required crew on-board to ensure they comply with all necessary regulations and can be fully put back into service quickly as needed. In accordance with local regulations, we closed our offices and most employees are working remotely to maintain general business operations, to provide assistance to existing and potential guests and to maintain information technology systems. We moved quickly to implement a comprehensive plan to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and preserve and enhance our liquidity position, and ended 2020 with $187.5 million cash and cash equivalents on our balance sheet, excluding restricted cash. We are also employing a variety of cost reduction and cash preservation measures, while accessing available capital under our existing debt facilities, through additional borrowings and through the issuance of preferred stock.

 

The spread of the COVID-19 virus and the recent developments surrounding the global pandemic are having material negative impacts on all aspects of our business. In addition, we have been, and will continue to be further, negatively impacted by related developments, including heightened governmental regulations and travel advisories, and travel bans and restrictions, each of which has impacted, and is expected to continue to significantly impact our access to various embarkation, disembarkation and expedition destinations.

 

2

 

We cannot predict with certainty when any of our ships will begin expedition sailings again and embarkation and disembarkation locations will reopen to our ships. Additionally, once travel advisories and restrictions are lifted, demand for expedition travel may remain weak for a significant length of time, and we cannot predict if and when we will return to previously expected levels of occupancy. Our bookings may be negatively impacted by the adverse changes in the perceived or actual economic climate, including higher unemployment rates, declines in income levels and loss of personal wealth resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, we cannot predict the impact COVID-19 will have on our partners, such as ship-yards for new builds, travel agencies, suppliers and other vendors. 

 

Our Global COVID-19 Policy team meets daily to assess the latest in testing, vaccination and global response to COVID-19. This team, in conjunction with numerous external experts, is building upon our existing robust protocols to further enhance the safety of our operations in the future. These protocols include a thorough review of our Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems, testing protocols for guests and crew, enhanced sanitation of all spaces and other changes necessary to return to operation. This group meets regularly with local authorities and health experts to create a comprehensive path towards reactivation.

 

While it is uncertain when we will return to operations, we believe there are a variety of strategic advantages that should enable us to deploy our ships safely and quickly once travel restrictions have been lifted. The most notable is the size of our owned and operated vessels which range from 48 to 148 passengers, allowing for a highly controlled environment that includes stringent cleaning protocols. The small nature of our ships should also allow us to efficiently and effectively test our guests and crew prior to boarding. On average, we estimate it will only take a few thousand tests a month to ensure all guests and crew across our entire fleet have been tested. Additionally, the majority of our expeditions take place in remote locations where human interactions are limited, so there is less opportunity for external influence. We also have the ability to be flexible with regards to existing itineraries and are actively investigating additional itinerary opportunities both internationally and domestically. Lastly, our guests are explorers by nature, eager to travel and have historically been very resilient following periods of uncertainty. 

 

Lindblad Expeditions Ships

 

We currently operate a fleet of nine owned expedition vessels, with our tenth, the National Geographic Resolution, scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2021. These ships, along with five seasonal chartered ships to provide our signature marine-based adventures to over 40 destinations on six continents, offering itineraries that last from four to 35 days. The small size of our vessels allows them to reach places inaccessible to larger ships. They are designed with a variety of public areas that offer views for passing landscape, observing wildlife and large dining rooms and lounges that form part of the social hubs of the ships, featuring presentation space for exploration recaps. The multiple public spaces on each vessel permits the ability to social distance during this current time of COVID-19.

 

We have extensive experience operating in the Galápagos Islands, Alaska, Antarctica and the Arctic, with the Lindblad family having been among the first to bring non-scientist travelers to these regions. We currently operate two vessels providing itineraries in the Galápagos throughout the year. We operate three polar vessels that serve primarily in Antarctica during the northern hemisphere winter, in the Arctic during the northern hemisphere summer and various destinations during the intermediate months. We also operate four ships in Alaska during the summer months that travel south along the North American coastline to the Sea of Cortez, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama for the winter. In addition, we charter five vessels for seasonal itineraries in the Amazon, Scotland, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Cambodia and Vietnam, and Egypt.

 

We deploy chartered vessels for various seasonal offerings and continually seek to optimize our charter fleet to balance our inventory with demand and maximize yields. We use our charter inventory as a mechanism to both increase travel options for our existing and prospective guests and also to test demand for certain areas and seasons to understand the potential for longer term deployments and additional vessel needs.

 

3

 

The following table presents summary information concerning the ships we currently operate and their primary traditional geographic operations:

 

Vessel Name

 

Date Built

 

Guest Capacity

 

Cabins

 

Primary Areas of Operation

 

Flag

National Geographic Endeavour II

 

2005, renovated in 2016

 

95

 

50

 

Galápagos

 

Ecuador

National Geographic Endurance

 

2020

 

126

 

69

 

Arctic, Antarctic, Greenland, Iceland, Northeast Passage and Norway

 

Bahamas

National Geographic Explorer

 

1982, rebuilt in 2008

 

148

 

81

 

Arctic, Antarctica, Canada, Europe, the British Isles and Patagonia/South America

 

Bahamas

National Geographic Islander

 

1995

 

47

 

24

 

Galápagos

 

Ecuador

National Geographic Orion

 

2003

 

102

 

53

 

Asia, Bering Sea and the South Pacific

 

Bahamas

National Geographic Quest

 

2017

 

96

 

50

 

Alaska, California Coast, Canada, the Pacific Northwest, Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama

 

 U.S.A.

National Geographic Resolution   Scheduled delivery in Q4 2021   126   69   Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland and Norway   Bahamas

National Geographic Sea Bird

 

1981

 

62

 

31

 

Alaska and the Pacific Northwest

 

U.S.A.

National Geographic Sea Lion

 

1982

 

62

 

31

 

Alaska, Baja California and the Pacific Northwest

 

U.S.A.

National Geographic Venture

 

2018

 

96

 

50

 

Alaska, California Coast and Baja California

 

 U.S.A.

Delfin II*

 

2009

 

28

 

14

 

Amazon

 

Peru

Jahan*

 

2011

 

48

 

24

 

Vietnam and Cambodia

 

Vietnam

Lord of the Glens*

 

1985, renovated in 2016

 

48

 

26

 

Scotland

 

UK

Oberoi Philae*

 

1996, renovated in 2015

 

44

 

22

 

Egypt

 

Egypt

Sea Cloud* 

 

1931, rebuilt in 1979, renovated in 2011

 

58

 

28

 

Caribbean and Mediterranean

 

Malta

_____

* Chartered Vessel

 

New Passenger Vessels Under Construction

 

Our newest vessel, the National Geographic Resolution, is scheduled to join the fleet in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will accommodate 126 guests in 69 cabins. The ship will include 53 cabins with balconies, and all cabins will be equipped with expedition command centers with tablets and TVs, allowing guests to view presentations from their cabins. The National Geographic Resolution is a next-generation expedition ship, purpose-built for polar navigation, fully stabilized, highly strengthened, ice-class Polar Code PC5 (Category A) vessel that is designed to navigate polar passages year-round, and safely explore uncharted waters, while providing exceptional comfort. The ship will feature an X-BOW® design providing an extremely smooth ride even in adverse conditions and will contain a full suite of expedition tools. The variety of public areas will include two restaurants, one with 270º views of the surrounding ocean and landscape, and an observation lounge with state-of-the art facilities for presentations.

 

Competitive Strengths

 

Our management team believes the following characteristics of our business model will enable us to successfully execute our strategy:

 

Strong Track Record, Expertise and Name Recognition 

 

Our leadership and expertise today are built on the Lindblad family’s decades of experience in expedition adventure travel. Sven-Olof Lindblad, our President and Chief Executive Officer, comes from a rich expedition heritage. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, which was established in 1991, believes that the concept of expedition cruising, coupled with education as a major theme, began when Lars-Eric Lindblad, Sven-Olof Lindblad’s father, led the first traveler’s expedition to Antarctica in 1966. The following year, he led the first traveler’s expedition to Galapagos. Lars-Eric Lindblad has also been recognized by The New York Times, Travel + Leisure Magazine and other publications for his vision and leadership in developing what is today known as expedition travel. Believing that educated people who saw things with their own eyes would be a potent force for the preservation of the places they visited, Lars-Eric Lindblad worked to promote conservation and restoration projects worldwide. Sven-Olof Lindblad founded Lindblad in 1979, expanding the legacy of his father by providing expanded marine experiences around the world.

 

Under Mr. Lindblad’s leadership, we have led innovation in the expedition adventure travel industry. We pioneered expeditions in the High Arctic and Baja California’s Sea of Cortez and created what we view as the most innovative and in-depth expedition program in Alaska. We initiated the use of kayaks for active exploration in the Polar Regions and in the Galápagos, a feature which is now available on all of our owned vessels to enable personal, water-level encounters with nature. We were also one of the first to develop an undersea exploration program as part of a small ship expedition utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and technology.

 

4

 

As a pioneer in the expedition adventure travel sector, we have established deep expertise and knowledge of operating expedition cruises in extreme locations. We have earned awards and honors from various representatives of the travel industry, including recognition for the quality of our offerings and our support for conservation and sustainable tourism. Some of the awards we earned during 2020 are as follows:  

 

 

Conde Nast Traveler 2020 Readers Choice Awards: Top Small Cruise Lines

 

 

 

 

Travel + Leisure World’s Best Small Ship Cruise Lines

 

 

 

 

USA TODAY 10Best: Readers Choice Finalist, Natural Habitat Adventures Best Adventure Travel Company

 

 

 

 

Recommend Readers’ Choice Awards: Best Cruise Lines – Expedition, Silver Award

 

 

 

 

TravelAge West Wave Awards: Best Expedition Cruise Lines (ocean-going)

 

 

 

 

AFAR Travelers Awards 2020: Travelers Choice Finalist, Natural Habitat Adventures Best Wildlife Encounters and Best Photography Expeditions

 

 

 

 

AFAR Travelers Awards 2020: #1 Expedition Cruise

 

 

 

 

 

Our 2019 Awards included:

 

Cruise Critic 2019 Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards: Top Small Ship Cruise Line in Alaska

 

 

 

 

Travel Weekly Gold Magellan Awards: Best Expedition Cruise Itinerary

 

 

 

 

Travel + Leisure World’s Best: Top Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Lines

 

 

 

 

USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Travel Award: Best Adventure Travel Company

 

 

 

 

USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Travel Award: Best Adventure Cruise Lines

 

 

 

 

Global Traveler Magazine’s Wherever Family Awards – Best Family Friendly Travel Provider of the Year

 

 

 

 

Ensemble Travel Purpose Awards: Caring for Community, Environment and Protecting Local Heritage

 

 

 

 

PURE Life Experiences: Transformative Travel Award: Natural Habitat Adventures World’s First Zero Waste Adventure

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Magazine: Best Trips of 2019: Natural Habitat Adventures Seven-Day Yellowstone Safari

 

 

 

 

AFAR 2019 World’s Best Trips: Best Wildlife Encounters: Natural Habitat Adventures

 

When customers select an expedition provider for the types of journeys that we offer, we believe that being known as a trusted brand with extensive operating history and knowledge in the market is a significant competitive strength.

 

Compelling Expedition Offerings

 

Lindblad is known for delivering voyages that offer in-depth exploration opportunities in locations around the world. Expeditions are operated on intimately-scaled ships with capacities ranging between 28 and 148 guests, fostering a friendly atmosphere on board and extensive interaction between guests, crew and the teams of world-class scientists, naturalists, researchers and photographers that participate in the expeditions. The vessels are nimble and can access locations that are unattainable for large cruise ships, allowing for in-depth exploration itineraries and viewpoints. The ships are customized to provide our signature adventure experiences and activities, such as kayaking among Antarctic icebergs to view penguins or traveling on a Zodiac for an up-close encounter with a whale. Based on our product offerings, we are able to support premium pricing with minimal discounting and benefit from low capital expenditure requirements, minimal working capital needs and favorable tax attributes. 

 

Natural Habitat offers over 100 different expedition itineraries of primarily land-based nature adventures in more than 45 countries spanning all seven continents. Natural Habitat expeditions focus on small groups led by award-winning naturalists to achieve close-up wildlife and nature experiences. Examples of expeditions offered by Natural Habitat include safaris in Botswana, grizzly bear adventures in Alaska and polar bear tours in Canada. Many of Natural Habitat’s expeditions feature access to private wildlife reserves, remote corners of national parks and distinctive lodges and camps for the best wildlife viewing. Their expeditions average nine guests with itineraries running from six to 17 days, with an average of 10 days. 

 

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We are continuously focused on maintaining and elevating the guest experience and identifying new opportunities to help people discover the wonders of the world. We believe that our track record of high-quality expedition offerings, along with our history of providing in-depth and highly innovative itineraries, represent significant competitive advantages for us.

 

Strategic Alliance with National Geographic

 

We benefit from a longstanding relationship with the National Geographic, one of the world’s leading proponents of eco-tourism and natural history. The strategic alliance, which began in 2004, is built on our shared interest in education, exploration, research, storytelling, technology and conservation. Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world with interests ranging from geography, archaeology and natural science, to the promotion of environmental and historical conservation. Working to inspire, illuminate and teach, National Geographic Partners reaches hundreds of millions of people around the world through a wide range of media, including print, TV, digital and social media platforms. The National Geographic name has significant value for use in connection with travel-related goods and services. The Lindblad/National Geographic alliance includes a co-selling and co-marketing arrangement through which National Geographic promotes our offerings in its marketing campaigns across web-based, email, print and other marketing platforms and sells our expeditions through its internal travel division. We believe that the alliance with National Geographic provides us with a substantial competitive advantage in the expedition market based on the brand enhancement, expanded marketing reach and the relationship with National Geographic’s experts, including photographers, writers, marine biologists, naturalists, field researchers and film crews, join our expeditions. Guests have the ability to interface with these experts through lectures, excursions, dining and other experiences throughout their expedition. 

 

Through this alliance, we collaborate with National Geographic on exploration, research, technology and conservation in order to provide travel experiences and disseminate geographic knowledge around the globe. The Lindblad/National Geographic alliance, which includes all of the Americas, is set forth in an Alliance and License Agreement and a Tour Operator Agreement with terms until December 31, 2025 (that may be terminated early by National Geographic in certain instances).

 

Sven-Olof Lindblad, our founder, previously served on the National Geographic Society’s International Council of Advisors, which was composed of individuals identified by the National Geographic Society as visionary leaders from a range of professions and industries across the globe that exemplify the intellectual curiosity and quest for adventure that has driven the National Geographic Society’s mission since 1888. Mr. John M. Fahey, Jr., one of our directors, previously served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Geographic Society.

 

Partnership with World Wildlife Fund

 

Natural Habitat has partnered with WWF, since 2003, to promote sustainable conservation travel that directly promotes and protects nature. WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation groups with over six million members globally. Natural Habitat’s exclusive license agreement with WWF allows Natural Habitat to use the WWF name, logo and select mailing list through 2023 in return for a royalty fee. 

 

Business and Growth Strategies 

 

The following are the key components of our business strategy:

 

Deliver Exceptional Guest Experiences

 

Our chief guiding principle throughout the organization is to ensure that everything adds value to the guest experience. This applies to every step of the process from the first engagement with a potential guest, through the booking process and travel preparations, the actual expedition, whether onboard the vessel or off on explorations, and once back at home.

 

We believe that our guests do not want to be passive tourists, so our expeditions foster active engagement. Our ships are equipped with tools for exploration to get our guests out in the open for up-close forays, or to let guests see deeper into the marine or terrestrial environments surrounding them. It is our goal to provide guests with differentiated opportunities with an experienced expedition team that adds to the guests’ understanding and appreciation, through dedicated observation, insightful commentary and engaging presentations, weaving the expedition into a cohesive narrative. This could include an opportunity for the guest to watch a killer whale circling a seal on an ice floe, while standing next to a marine biologist and an experienced nature photographer from National Geographic. This intense focus on seeking to elevate the overall experience and engaging with guests has resulted in highly favorable customer feedback. We believe that by consistently delivering exceptional experiences to our guests, we have built a highly valuable and trusted brand in the expedition cruising and land-based expedition market, which attracts a growing number of discerning and affluent guests who are prepared to pay a premium for our offerings.

 

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We place a strong focus on innovation, which we seek to achieve by introducing new expedition options and continuously making improvements to our fleet and voyage experiences as new technology or operating procedures are developed. We make deployment decisions with the goal of optimizing the overall profitability of our portfolio, with these decisions generally made 18 to 24 months in advance. Adding new capacity will allow us to expand our inventory of existing itineraries, extend into new markets and explore new destinations. 

 

High Visibility and Differentiated Revenue Management Strategy

 

Our business model generally allows us to generate consistent free cash flow with high revenue visibility. Given the nature of our expeditions and the expectation that our guests will seek to plan such trips with substantial notice, we begin to market our expeditions approximately 12 to 24 months in advance of the departure date. Guests book their trips, on average, nine months prior to travel date, paying a deposit at booking, providing us significant visibility into future revenue and a source of cash flow. Final payment is due 60 to 120 days prior to the date of travel, dependent upon the selected expedition. 

 

Unlike the large cruise line operators that serve the broader market, our product offering is inclusive of most costs and therefore the advance customer payments provide us strong visibility into future revenues and the associated cash flows. By having such visibility into future business, we can more effectively manage any additional sales and marketing efforts that may be required to ensure that the programs reach their targeted occupancy levels. We do not believe in driving participation through discounting and do not generally pursue such strategies. Instead, we focus on voyage enhancements that add significant value to the product without significant incremental cost, as well as targeted marketing efforts in order to strengthen occupancy rates, if required. Based on our offerings, the targeted audience and premium pricing, our guests are generally older, more affluent and do not travel with three or four individuals in one cabin. As it is industry convention to base 100% occupancy on two persons per cabin, we may report occupancy levels that are somewhat lower than the large cruise lines serving the broader market. However, we have achieved strong occupancy rates for the Lindblad segment in the last three years (based on two persons per cabin), operating at 89%, 91% and 91% occupancy rate for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. The occupancy rate for 2020 has been skewed by the effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on our ability to operate expeditions.

 

Maximize and Grow Net Yields per Available Guest Night

 

We have historically achieved high net yields per available guest night and continue to see opportunities for growth. Net yield per available guest night is a frequently referenced metric in the cruise industry and refers to tour revenues net of commissions and certain direct costs in a specific period divided by the number of available guest nights. Our net yield per available guest night is driven by our offerings, premium pricing and ancillary guest revenue, such as pre- or post-voyage trip extensions, add-on optional activities, trip insurance and onboard spend. Our net yield per available guest night was $1,048, $1,051 and $1,044 in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively with the net yield per available guest night for 2020 skewed by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our net yield per available guest night has been significantly higher than the large-scale cruise line operators and we expect to be able to continue our track record of maintaining strong pricing and growing ancillary guest revenues through increased sales focus and marketing efforts.

 

Elevate Brand Awareness and Loyalty

 

Our brand is recognizable by our guests primarily due to our heritage, decades of sales and marketing investment and longstanding strategic alliance with National Geographic. We believe we have fostered strong guest and brand loyalty, which is evidenced by our high levels of repeat guests. Historically, approximately 40% of guests booked through our U.S. office have been past guests. We have closely aligned our marketing efforts with National Geographic to maximize impact in the marketplace and have engaged in a co-branding strategy with respect to our owned vessels. In addition, we are recognized as a leader in promoting the issue of conservation of the planet and encourage our guests to become engaged through the LEX-NG Fund. In the past, we have organized high-level meetings in the Arctic, Antarctic, Galápagos and Baja California to put a spotlight on key environmental issues in conjunction with organizations such as the Aspen Institute, TED and the WWF. These efforts help to build our brand and network of relationships and enhance our thought leadership. We will continue to focus on ensuring that each of our guests associates our brand with high-quality marine based adventure vacation experiences.

 

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We maintain an active presence on numerous social media platforms, focusing primarily on those with the greatest reach to our target demographic. In addition, we routinely feed content to National Geographic’s social media platforms, which extend the reach of our brand significantly.

 

Disciplined Expansion

 

We believe affluent travelers view their retirement as “a time to travel and explore new places,” favoring travel experiences such as expedition cruising. This has led to strong growth in the specialty cruise segment and we believe these trends will continue following the COVID-19 pandemic. We are focused on growing our business in a prudent and disciplined manner. When evaluating various strategies for expansion of guest capacity, we consider closely the expected return on invested capital and the range of possibilities, such as a newbuild program, adding selected charters and the acquisitions of existing ships or operators. We currently have a polar ice-class vessel, the National Geographic Resolution, under construction and scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2021. We took delivery of a polar ice-class vessel, the National Geographic Endurance, during March 2020, and launched two new coastal vessels, the National Geographic Quest in 2017 and the National Geographic Venture in 2018. In 2016, we acquired an 80.1% ownership in Natural Habitat. We believe that we have the financial flexibility to pursue additional growth opportunities subject to, among other factors, our ability to identify attractive business opportunities and to negotiate favorable terms for such opportunities.

 

Additionally, we believe that our platform is well positioned to opportunistically seek accretive purchases of operators that lack scale and capital, further extending our growth prospects. Following year-end, the Company further expanded its platform of high-quality experiential travel offerings through the acquisition of majority stakes in Off the Beaten Path, LLC, a leading land-based travel operator specializing in authentic national park experiences, and DuVine Cycling & Adventure LLC, a leading international luxury cycling and adventure company focused on exceptional food and wine experiences, thoughtfully designed itineraries and top quality gear and support. Similar to the Company’s acquisition of Natural Habitat, these businesses are strong compliments to our existing product offerings, and we will leverage our experience and resources to accelerate their growth and capitalize on the growing demand for authentic and immersive adventure travel.

 

Operations

 

Guest Activities and Services

 

We provide our guests the opportunity and the tools to be active and engaged explorers. Our vessels carry a variety of equipment for exploration which, depending on the ship and destination, may include Zodiacs for water-based activities and quick transfers to shore, kayaks and paddleboards for personal exploration, motorized skiffs, an underwater camera, a remotely operated vehicle, a video microscope to study some of the smallest organisms of the marine ecosystem, a crow’s nest camera atop a ship’s mast, hydrophones for listening to vocalizations of marine mammals, snorkeling gear, scuba gear and wetsuits. An experienced and knowledgeable expedition staff leads guests in exploration while Zodiac riding, hiking onshore, paddling on the water or observing wildlife from ashore or onboard the ship. All voyages feature a certified photo instructor onboard and many include photographers from National Geographic.

 

Our ships allow us to offer guests authentic, up-close experiences in the planet's wild, remote places, but at the same time, enjoy a high level of comfort, convenience and safety. High-quality dining is an integral part of our expedition experience with influences and flavors that reflect the regions being explored, along with traditional fare. Food prepared aboard is sourced locally whenever practicable from sustainable providers. Seating is open and the atmosphere is relaxed. Our ships offer a range of services and amenities which allow our guests to travel in comfort. Depending on the ship, these may include a fitness center, a spa offering a variety of treatments, a photo kiosk for photographers to edit and sort photos, 24-hour beverage service, internet connection, laundry facilities and a doctor on call.

 

We offer to handle virtually all travel aspects related to guest reservations and transportation, simplifying the planning and booking process for our guests. We also provide guests the opportunity to purchase pre- and post-expedition extensions or services that may include additional hotel nights, air travel, private transfers, excursions, land travel packages and travel protection insurance.

 

Sales and Marketing

 

We place a strong emphasis on identifying the needs of our guests and creating expedition opportunities and products that our guests value. We use communication strategies and marketing campaigns designed to strengthen brand awareness and to emphasize the distinctive qualities of each expedition we offer. Marketing strategies include the use of direct marketing, mail and email; digital media, including search, social media and programmatic ad buying; traditional media; brand websites; and travel agencies and other strategic third-party distribution partners.

 

We source our business through a combination of direct selling, travel agency networks and our strategic alliance with National Geographic. We invest in maintaining strong relationships with our key travel agency network partners and seek to maintain commission rates and incentive structures that are competitive within the marketplace.

 

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Historically, the majority of our guests have been from the United States. Expedition cruise guests sourced from the U.S. represented approximately 91% of our total global expedition cruise guests’ ticket revenue in 2020 and 91% in 2019 and 90% in 2018.

 

Our largest channel for expedition cruise guest bookings is direct contact, either by guests calling and speaking with our expedition specialists or requesting a reservation online at our website. The direct channel represented approximately 39% of expedition cruise guest ticket revenues for 2020, which was skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 40% for 2019 and 2018.

 

We also generate significant bookings from travel agents and wholesalers, representing approximately 30% for the year ended 2020, which was skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 28% for the years ended 2019 and 2018, for expedition cruises guest ticket revenue. Agent outreach efforts are focused primarily on consortiums, or travel agent networks, which target affluent travelers. The four consortiums with which we have preferred partner agreements are Virtuoso, Signature, American Express and Ensemble. Preferred status provides their agents with financial incentives to book their customers on our expeditions and provides us the opportunity for enhanced marketing to their agents and end-user customers. Our agent and affinity sales team meet with hundreds of highly-targeted agents annually, at consortium conferences and training seminars, and in-person at agency offices to provide hands-on training, support and product knowledge.

 

The National Geographic relationship also serves as a significant channel for bookings. Our alliance with National Geographic includes a co-selling and co-marketing arrangement through which National Geographic promotes our expedition cruise offerings in its marketing campaigns across web-based, email, print and other marketing platforms and sells our expeditions through its internal travel division. The National Geographic channel represented approximately 24%, 24% and 26% of expedition cruise guest ticket revenues for 2020, which was skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2019 and 2018, respectively. As part of this relationship, our owned vessels carry the National Geographic name.

 

The remainder of our expedition cruise bookings, 7% of guest ticket revenues for 2020, which was skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 8% for 2019 and 6% for 2018, respectively, comes from affinity groups and charters. Affinity groups are predominantly college and university alumni associations, and other travel organizations targeting specific market niches.

 

We have a broad and diverse marketing mix across multiple media platforms and channels, allowing us to effectively communicate our product offerings to past guests and prospective guests. We continually optimize our media mix to reach our target demographic. The majority of our annual global marketing spend is focused on consumer-direct channels. Our detailed brochures present our expedition offerings comprehensively, providing guests with all the information needed to make an informed travel decision. We execute direct mail campaigns with the primary purpose of generating qualified leads, upon which we will fulfill requests with the appropriate product brochure and/or digital media. We also invest significantly in digital media as part of our guest acquisition efforts with particular focus in paid search, paid social media, and programmatic video and display advertising.

 

We operate two websites, www.expeditions.com for our Lindblad expedition cruise offerings and www.nathab.com for our Natural Habitat nature adventures. Both websites are supported internally by a dynamic content management system, allowing frequent updates, a visually-impactful design, large photos and video display with simple, straightforward navigation. Consumers are directed to key areas on either www.expeditions.com or www.nathab.com through weekly emails, direct mail, social media, PR, and advertising. We also routinely offer webinars to offer greater insights into our expeditions, hosted by members of the expedition teams with intimate knowledge of the geographies featured. In 2019, our www.nathab.com site was redesigned to provide an enhanced user experience with improved video integration and easier, more intuitive page and trip navigation. In addition, it is anticipated that www.expeditions.com will launch a fully redesigned website during 2021, that will fit any device or screen and feature enhanced functionality such as real-time cabin availability, e-commerce capability, enhanced personalization, enriched design and content to better reflect the expedition experience, and improved organic search.

 

We maintain an active presence on numerous social media platforms, focusing primarily on those with the greatest reach to our target demographic. In addition, we routinely feed content to National Geographic’s social media platforms, which extend the reach of our brand significantly.

 

Our marketing team encompasses broad and diverse skill sets including product and channel marketing, digital marketing, database marketing, copywriting and creative, video production and research and analytics.

 

Expedition Cruise Pricing

 

Our voyage prices typically include accommodations and all expedition activities and meals, other than items of a personal nature, such as airfare to and from an expedition, spa treatments and certain other specialized events or activities. Prices vary depending on many factors, including the vessel, the destinations on a particular voyage, number of guest berths available, expedition length, cabin category selected and time of year during which the expedition takes place. Payment terms generally require an upfront deposit to confirm a reservation with the balance due prior to departure.

 

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We focus on maintaining list pricing of our offerings and any discounting that we pursue is tactical, targeted and infrequent. In addition to our standard expedition packages, we may be able to offer a complete vessel for charter and may provide incentives for this type of arrangement. Group and multi-generational family travel may also be eligible for additional incentives based upon the voyage, duration and number of guests travelling. From time to time, we may incentivize guests to book with us with a variety of offers, including free or reduced-price air transportation, hotel nights or other value-added items. We offer rewards to our guests through our loyalty program, Friends for Life, to encourage repeat business.

 

Lindblad Expeditions–National Geographic Joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation (LEX-NG Fund)

 

We seek to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. One of Lindblad’s guiding principles is to positively impact the areas we explore and in which we work. To this end, we, along with the National Geographic Society, created the LEX-NG Fund to support projects at the global, regional and local level. The objective of the LEX-NG Fund is to support projects to understand and protect our world’s oceans, restore critical marine and coastal habitats, and foster environmental stewardship in the regions visited by our fleet, and beyond. Together with our guests, we have granted $14.9 million to a variety of projects supporting the regions we visit since the Fund was established in 2008. In addition, 500,000 shares of Lindblad common stock were contributed to the LEX-NG Fund by the founders of Capitol Acquisition Corp. II in connection with the merger with Lindblad Expeditions, Inc., to support the regions that we visit. Since we and the National Geographic Society together cover the LEX-NG Fund’s operating costs, 100% of guest contributions go directly to on-the-ground projects. In 2020, the LEX-NG Fund issued eight unique grants to eight regional partners in five key regions, while also supporting three major National Geographic Society conservation, education and research initiatives: Pristine Seas, Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship and Early Career Grants. The Fund also continued support for a Galapagos-focused project started in 2019. All of these 2020 activities were supported with an aggregate amount of approximately $1.5 million. The majority of funds were donated by guests traveling aboard our fleet. The LEX-NG Fund is managed jointly by one of our staff members and one National Geographic Society staff member, and the Board is currently comprised of five members, including Sven-Olof Lindblad, our founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Valerie Craig, Interim Chief Science and Innovation Officer at the National Geographic Society and Alex Moen, Vice President, Explorer Programs at the National Geographic Society.

 

Environmental Stewardship

 

Our staff is involved in organizations such as the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, which seek to lead the tourism industry with management best practices for visiting places such as Antarctica, the Arctic and the Galápagos Islands. Our staff also works with several organizations to promote sustainable seafood programs where possible, including (i) the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, whose scientific-based standards guide seafood producers, industry leaders, organizations, and governments around the globe to improve their fishing practices, (ii) a co-op in the Galápagos Islands committed to ocean conservation and sustainable, transparent practices minimizing negative impact on the ocean density, ocean floor and the by-catch of non-targeted species, and (iii) a company in Baja California, Mexico that works to foster a market for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible seafood by working with local fisher cooperatives, promoting good fishing management and sustainability of Mexico’s marine ecosystem. We also work with the Charles Darwin Research Station and Charles Darwin Foundation on conservation initiatives geared toward preserving the Galápagos Islands. In 2018, we announced the elimination of guest-facing single-use plastics fleet-wide, and in 2019 we announced our decision to become a carbon neutral company. 

 

Seasonality

 

Our Lindblad tour revenues from the sale of guest tickets are mildly seasonal, historically larger in the first and third quarters. The seasonality of our operating results fluctuates due to our vessels being taken out of service for scheduled maintenance or drydocking, which is typically during nonpeak demand periods, in the second and fourth quarters. Our drydock schedules are subject to cost and timing differences from year to year due to the availability of shipyards for certain work, drydock locations based on ship itineraries, operating conditions experienced especially in the polar regions and the applicable regulations of class societies in the maritime industry, which require more extensive reviews periodically. Drydocking impacts operating results by reducing tour revenues and increasing cost of tours.

 

Natural Habitat is a seasonal business, with the majority of its tour revenue recorded in the third and fourth quarters from its summer season departures and polar bear tours. 

 

Ship Repair and Maintenance

 

In addition to routine repairs and maintenance performed on an ongoing basis and in accordance with applicable requirements, each of our expedition ships is taken out of service for a scheduled deeper maintenance period to conduct repairs and improvements. We maintain our fleet in accordance with applicable regulations, international conventions and insurance requirements. This includes regularly scheduled maintenance, periodic inspections, drydocking, wetdocking and overhaul. In addition, renovations and replacements of various vessel elements are part of the ongoing process of maintaining the vessels to a high standard of reliability, safety and comfort.

 

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For U.S. flagged ships, the statutory requirement is an annual docking and U.S. Coast Guard inspections, normally conducted in drydock. Internationally flagged ships have scheduled dockings approximately every 12 months, for a period of up to three to six weeks. Drydock interval and required inspections are statutory requirements controlled under chapters of the International Convention of the Safety of Life at Seas (“SOLAS”) and Classification Society rules. Under these requirements, passenger ships must be inspected in drydock twice in five years, with the maximum duration between each drydock inspection not to exceed three years, and an underwater hull inspection is required annually. To the extent practicable each ship’s crew and hotel staff remain with the ship during docking periods and assist in performing repair and maintenance work. Dockings are typically planned during non-peak demand periods to minimize the adverse effect on revenue that results from ships being out of service.

 

Suppliers

 

Our largest capital expenditures are for ship acquisition and capital improvements. Our largest operating expenditures are for ship maintenance, payroll, fuel, food and beverage, travel agent services and advertising and marketing. Most of the supplies that we require are available from numerous sources at competitive prices.

 

Insurance

 

We maintain comprehensive insurance coverage at commercially reasonable rates and believe that our current coverage is at appropriate levels to protect against most of the risk involved in the conduct of our business.

 

We maintain insurance on the hull and machinery of each of our ships that includes additional coverage for disbursements, earnings and increased value. We also maintain protection and indemnity insurance for each of our owned ships. In addition, we maintain war risk insurance on each ship, which covers damage due to acts of war, including invasion, insurrection, terrorism, rebellion, piracy and hijacking. This includes coverage for physical damage to the ship, which is not covered under the hull policies as a result of war exclusion clauses in such hull policies. We also maintain protection and indemnity war risk coverage. Consistent with most marine war risk policies, under the terms of the war risk insurance coverage, underwriters can give notice that the policy will be canceled and reinstated at higher premium rates. We also maintain insurance coverage for shoreside property, shipboard inventory and marine and non-marine general liability risks, as well as business interruption insurance for our owned ships based on the evaluation of the financial exposure per vessel for profitability. In addition, we maintain workers’ compensation, directors’ and officers’ liability and other insurance coverage.

 

Industry and Market

 

We believe the specialty and small ship cruising segment of the cruise industry demonstrates the following positive fundamentals:

 

Strong Growth in Specialty and Small Ship Cruising Segment

 

The specialty and small ship cruising segment of the cruise industry is characterized by the smallest vessel size, unique itineraries, active adventures, gourmet culinary programs, highly personalized service and a more inclusive offering. These exclusive attributes, combined with a growing worldwide target population, provide specialty and small ship cruising operators with significant pricing leverage as compared to the other segments of the cruise industry.

 

Ship based travel is on the rise as 40 million passengers are estimated to cruise annually over the next 10 years, per Cruise Industry News. The adventure tourism market is valued to grow by 277% from 2018 to 2026, as forecasted by ReportLinker. Despite this anticipated growth, we believe the specialty cruise industry still has low penetration levels compared to similar land-based vacations, which we believe highlights the continued growth potential for the specialty cruise market following the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Attractive Target Market Demographics

 

Our offerings appeal to a wide range of travelers, both individuals and families, but affluent individuals in the U.S. aged 50 years or older represent our largest demographic category. We believe that our small ship expedition offerings, with itineraries that promote up-close encounters with wildlife, nature and culture, have significant appeal to this target market. These individuals are also generally near-retirement or retired and have the leisure time and disposable income available to pursue the type of activities that we provide. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 National Projections, the age group of 50 years and older numbered approximately 120 million individuals in 2020, or approximately 36% of the U.S. population, and is expected to grow to approximately 126 million in 2025. According to a Cruise Lines International Association-member (“CLIA”) report, 51% of all cruise passengers in 2018 were 50 years or older.

 

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High Barriers to Entry

 

The cruise industry in general, and the adventure travel and specialty cruise industries specifically, are characterized by high barriers to entry, which include the expertise and experience required to operate safely and effectively in remote locations, the existence of several well-established and recognizable brands and the time and personal relationships required to develop strong networks of experts to lead and support expeditions. Additionally, there are large investments required to build new, sophisticated ships, long lead times necessary to construct new ships and limited newbuild shipyard capacity. Operators must also develop strong travel agent network partnerships, as well as acquire local permits or licenses required to operate in a diverse range of geographies.

 

Competition 

 

We compete with a number of cruise lines with competition varying by destination. The market is currently fragmented and primarily comprised of private operators. The primary competitors that operate in the geographic regions we serve include Silversea Expeditions, Quark Expeditions, Compagnie du Ponant, Hurtigruten and UnCruise Adventures. We expect our competition in the specialty cruise business to continue to increase in future years as the expedition cruising market continues to grow.

 

For our land-based expeditions, we compete with a variety of companies offering itineraries in the countries in which we operate. These range from small private operators to larger companies operating across multiple countries. Some of our larger competitors include Abercrombie & Kent, Overseas Adventure Travel and Mountain Travel Sobek.

 

We also compete with other vacation alternatives such as land-based resort hotels and sightseeing destinations for guests’ leisure time. 

 

Regulation

 

Our ships are regulated by various international, national, state and local laws, regulations and treaties in force in the jurisdictions in which they operate. Our owned ships are registered in the U.S., the Bahamas or Ecuador, as applicable. These countries are signatories to the International Maritime Organization safety, security and environmental instruments and policy. Each ship is subject to regulations issued by its country of registry, including regulations issued pursuant to international treaties governing the safety of the ships, guests and crew as well as environmental protection. Each country of registry conducts periodic inspections to verify compliance with these regulations. Ships operating out of U.S. ports are subject to inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard for compliance with international treaties and by the United States Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for sanitary and health conditions. Ships are also subject to similar inspections pursuant to the laws and regulations of various other countries visited. Health, safety, security, environmental and financial responsibility issues are, and will continue to be, an area of focus by the relevant government authorities in the U.S. and internationally.

 

From time to time, various regulatory and legislative changes may be adopted that could impact operations and subject us to increasing compliance costs in the future including potential new guidelines and requirements addressing COVID-19 precautions.

 

Safety and Security Regulations

 

Our ships are required to comply with international safety standards established by SOLAS, which, among other things, establishes requirements for ship design, structural features, materials, construction, life-saving equipment and safe management, and operation of ships to ensure guest and crew safety. The SOLAS standards are revised from time to time and our vessels are compliant with applicable SOLAS requirements. SOLAS incorporates the International Safety Management Code (“ISM Code”), which provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. The ISM Code is mandatory for all vessels, including passenger vessel operators. All of our operations and ships are regularly audited by various national authorities and maintain the required certificates of compliance with the ISM Code.

 

Our ships are also subject to various security requirements, including the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (“ISPS Code”), which is part of SOLAS, and the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (“MTSA”), which applies to ships that operate in U.S. ports. In order to satisfy these security requirements, we implement security measures, conduct vessel security assessments and develop security plans. The security plans for all of the ships have been submitted to, and approved by, the respective countries of registry for compliance with the ISPS Code and the MTSA.

 

Environmental Regulations

 

We are subject to various U.S. and international laws and regulations relating to environmental protection. Under such laws and regulations, we are prohibited from, among other things, discharging certain materials, such as petrochemicals and plastics, into the waterways. From time to time, environmental and other regulators may consider more stringent regulations, which may affect our operations and increase compliance costs.

 

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The ships are subject to the International Maritime Organization’s regulations under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (the “MARPOL Regulations”), which includes requirements designed to minimize pollution by oil, sewage, garbage and air emissions. We have obtained the relevant international compliance certificates relating to oil, sewage and air pollution prevention for all of our ships.

 

The MARPOL Regulations impose global limitations on the sulfur content of fuel used by ships operating worldwide and also establish special Emission Control Areas (“ECAs”) with stringent limitations on sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions in these areas. As of February 2014, there were four established ECAs: the Baltic Sea, the North Sea/English Channel, certain of the waters surrounding the North American coast, and the waters surrounding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Currently, ships operating in ECAs are required to operate on fuel with a sulfur content of not more than 0.1% m/m (mass by mass). Ships operating elsewhere were previously subject to a limit of 3.5%, which was reduced to not more than 0.5% m/m on and after January 1, 2020.

 

In July 2011, MARPOL Regulations introduced mandatory measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include the utilization of an energy efficiency design index (“EEDI”) for new ships as well as the establishment of an energy efficient management plan for all ships. The EEDI is a performance-based mechanism that requires a certain minimum energy efficiency in new ships. These regulations apply to new vessels commissioned after January 1, 2013. In June 2013, the European Commission proposed legislation that would require cruise ship operators using ports in the European Union to monitor and report on the vessels’ annual carbon dioxide emissions starting in 2018.

 

The Coastwise Laws 

 

Our U.S. flag vessels, the National Geographic Sea Bird, the National Geographic Sea Lion, the National Geographic Quest and the National Geographic Venture, are subject to the U.S. laws relating to the transport of passengers or cargo between U.S. ports in the U.S. coastwise trade.

 

These laws relating to vessels are principally contained in 46 U.S.C. §55103 and the federal regulations promulgated thereunder and are commonly referred to collectively as the “Coastwise Laws.” Subject to limited exceptions, vessels transporting passengers between ports of places in the United States, whether directly or by the way of foreign port, must be “coastwise qualified”. To be qualified, a vessel must be owned and operated by “citizens of the United States” within the meaning of the governing laws and regulations. In the case of a corporation to be deemed a U.S. citizen: (i) the corporation must be organized under the laws of the U.S. or of a state, territory or possession thereof; (ii) each of the chief executive officer and the chairman of the board of directors of such corporation, and each person authorized to act in the absence or disability of such persons, must be a U.S. citizen; (iii) no more than a minority of the number of directors of such corporation necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business can be non-U.S. citizens; and (iv) at least 75% of each class or series of stock in such corporation must be beneficially owned by U.S. citizens.

 

Labor Regulations

 

The International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations that develops worldwide employment standards, adopted a Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention (the “Convention”) in 2006, which became effective in August 2013. The Convention reflects a broad range of standards and conditions governing all aspects of crew management for ships in international commerce, including additional requirements not previously in effect relating to the health, safety, repatriation, entitlements and status of crewmembers and crew recruitment practices. Each of our ships, except for our two ships operating in Ecuador (not a signatory to the Convention), has received its certification of compliance with the requirements of the Convention.

 

Consumer Financial Responsibility Regulations

 

U.S. law requires the operators of passenger vessels embarking passengers at U.S. ports to be certified by the United States Federal Maritime Commission as to their ability to satisfy obligations with respect to unearned passenger revenue in case of non-performance, and for liability in case of casualty or personal injury. We satisfy these requirements with respect to our operation of the National Geographic Sea Bird, National Geographic Sea Lion, National Geographic Quest, National Geographic Venture and the U.S. embarking expeditions of the National Geographic Orion and the National Geographic Endurance through an escrow account for passenger deposits and through our liability insurers.

 

Certain jurisdictions require that we establish financial responsibility to our guests resulting from the non-performance of our obligations; however, the related amounts do not have a material effect on our costs.

 

Regulations Regarding Protection of Disabled Persons

 

Our U.S. flag vessels, the National Geographic Sea BirdNational Geographic Sea LionNational Geographic Quest and the National Geographic Venture are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which creates affirmative requirements intended to facilitate access by disabled persons. The ADA requires that our U.S. flagged vessels make “reasonable accommodation” in their policies, practices and procedures to facilitate the carriage of passengers with disabilities.

 

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In June 2013, the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board proposed guidelines for the construction and alteration of passenger vessels to ensure that the vessels are readily accessible to and usable by passengers with disabilities. If and when finalized, these guidelines will be used by the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Justice to implement mandatory and enforceable standards for passenger vessels covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. We cannot, at this time, accurately predict whether we will be required to make material modifications or incur significant additional expenses given the status of the proposed guidelines.

 

Local Regulations

 

Our ability to follow our planned itinerary for any expedition cruise may be affected by a number of factors, including local government regulations and restrictions and other restrictions on access, including access to protected or preserved areas, including national parks. 

 

Human Capital Resources and Management 

 

As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately 415 employees, including approximately 210 shipboard employees, and approximately 195 full-time and ten part-time employees in our shoreside operations. Some of our employees in Ecuador are represented by a collective bargaining agreement. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to suspend travel operations and furlough the majority of vessel crew as well as a portion of our shoreside and office personnel. Health and other benefits have continued to be provided to our furloughed employees. As we work towards restarting operations during 2021, we are reengaging furloughed team members and plan to bring back our furloughed employees, as appropriate, in preparation for resuming operations.

 

The safety, health and wellness of our employees is a top priority. The Company promotes the health and wellness of its employees by strongly encouraging work-life balance and keeping the employee portion of health care premiums to a minimum. The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique challenge with regard to maintaining employee safety while continuing successful operations. Through teamwork and the adaptability of our management and staff, we were able to transition our office staff to remote locations to maintain general business operations, to provide assistance to existing and potential guests and to maintain information technology systems.

 

We encourage and support the growth and development of our employees and, wherever possible, seek to fill positions by promotion and transfer from within the organization. We look for enthusiastic team members who are accomplished in their field, excellent communicators, good leaders, and have a passion for travel. One of our guiding principles is to ensure that everything adds value to the guest experience and our office personnel and expedition and marine teams work diligently to ensure that our guests receive exceptional experiences and service. It is our daily interactions with guests that help them appreciate the history and natural history of each location, find inspiration, adventure and have a once in a lifetime experience. This guiding principle also furthers employee retention by honoring the value of employee service and actively prioritizing concern for our employees’ well-being, supporting our employees’ career goals, offering competitive wages and providing valuable fringe benefits that aid in retention of our top-performing employees. We align base and variable pay with the external market, to ensure external competitiveness while maintaining internal value or equity within the organization. Our short-term and long-term incentive plans are designed to provide a variable pay opportunity to reward the attainment of key financial and operational goals and shareholder value creation. The mix among base compensation, short-term incentives and long-term incentives is designed to align with the competitive market. We provide a variety of benefits including but not limited to healthcare coverage, 401(k) retirement savings and travel opportunities on our expeditions for free or at reduced cost. As of December 31, 2020, approximately 29% of our current staff had been with us for ten years or more.

 

Fluctuations may occur within our workforce due to seasonality, expedition itineraries and the number of vessels in operation. We try to manage our attrition, approving the replacement of key positions that we believe are critical to sustaining improved business performance and guest satisfaction. We also analyze departure data so we can continually improve upon the employee experience. Our talent management and succession plan process includes the identification of key positions based on current and future business strategies and the identification of potential successors.

 

Corporate Information and History

 

We were originally incorporated in Delaware on August 9, 2010 with the name Capitol Acquisition Corp. II as a blank check company to acquire, through a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, plan of arrangement, recapitalization, reorganization or other similar business combination, one or more businesses or entities.

 

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On July 8, 2015, we completed a series of mergers whereby Lindblad Expeditions, Inc., a New York corporation originally incorporated in July 1979, became our wholly-owned subsidiary. Immediately following the mergers, we changed our name to Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc.

 

In 2016, we acquired Natural Habitat, based in Louisville, Colorado, to expand our expedition offerings with land-based adventure travel expeditions.

 

In 2021, we acquired Off the Beaten Path, based in Boseman, Montana, and DuVine Cycling and Adventure 

 

Our corporate headquarters are located at 96 Morton Street, 9th Floor, New York, New York 10014. Our telephone number is (212) 261-9000. Our website is www.expeditions.com. All of our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, can be accessed free of charge through our website promptly after filing; however, in the event the website is inaccessible, we will provide paper copies of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, the most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, current reports filed or furnished on Form 8-K, and all related amendments excluding exhibits, free of charge, upon request. These filings are also accessible on the Securities and Exchange Commission's website at www.sec.gov. We do not intend for information contained on our website to be a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and such information is not incorporated by reference herein.

 

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Item 1A. 

Risk Factors

 

You should carefully consider the risk factors set forth below and the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The matters discussed in the risk factors, and additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operation and future growth prospects.

 

Some of these risks include:

 

 

Restrictions or extended restrictions, on expedition travel, have materially adversely affected our business and could materially adversely affect our financial condition and liquidity.

 

 

COVID-19 has had, and is expected to continue to have, a significant impact on our financial condition and operations, which may impact our ability to obtain acceptable financing to fund the necessary cash needed for operations. The current and uncertain future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its effect on the ability or desire of people to travel, is expected to continue to impact our results, operations, outlooks, plans, goals, growth, cash flows and liquidity.

 

 

Adverse worldwide economic, geopolitical or other conditions could reduce the demand for expedition travel and adversely impact our operating results, cash flows and financial condition.

 

 

Incidents or adverse publicity concerning the cruise industry, the expedition travel industry or the travel industry in general, terrorist attacks, war, travel restrictions, pandemics or other disruptions could affect our reputation as well as have a negative impact on our sales and results of operations.

 

 

Delays or cost overruns in building new vessels, including the failure to deliver new vessels, or the financial difficulties of the shipyard building a vessel could have negative impact on us.

 

 

Failure to maintain our partnership with National Geographic could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

 

Our debt could adversely affect our financial health and operating flexibility.

 

 

Any inability to satisfy any covenants required by existing or future credit facilities could adversely impact our liquidity.

 

 

Compliance with existing or changing laws and regulations could adversely affect our business.

 

 

Our common stock ranks junior to our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock with respect to dividends and amounts payable in the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding-up of our affairs.

 

Risks Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

Restrictions or extended restrictions, on expedition travel in general, have materially adversely affected our business and could materially adversely affect our financial condition and liquidity.

 

There can be no assurance when travel restrictions may be lifted, and such restrictions may extend in whole or in part beyond current government guidance or into next year. Any cases of COVID-19 on one of our vessels when we are able to resume sailing could result in a subsequent suspension of travel or limit our ability to disembark guests from our vessels. There can be no assurance that our guests will be able to travel to embarkation or from disembarkation destinations, or that such locations will continue to have travel restrictions in place which would impact our ability to sail scheduled itineraries. In addition, even following the ease of travel restrictions, there is no assurance that guests will immediately recommence travel to prior levels. The current travel restrictions have materially adversely impacted our business and operations and prolonged travel restrictions or lower guest demand would have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.

 

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COVID-19 has had, and is expected to continue to have, a significant impact on our financial condition and operations, which may impact our ability to obtain acceptable financing to fund the necessary cash needed for operations. The current and uncertain future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its effect on the ability or desire of people to travel, is expected to continue to impact our results, operations, outlooks, plans, goals, growth, cash flows and liquidity.

 

The spread of the COVID-19 virus and the recent developments surrounding the global pandemic are having material negative impacts on all aspects of our business. We have voluntary suspended and rescheduled, as applicable, all of our expedition operations and such pause may be required to be extended. In addition, we have been and will continue to be further negatively impacted by related developments, including heightened governmental regulations and travel advisories, recommendations by the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and travel bans and restrictions, each of which has impacted, and is expected to continue to significantly impact our access to various destinations.

 

We will continue to incur COVID-19 related costs as we implement additional health and hygiene-related protocols. In addition, the industry may be subject to enhanced health and hygiene requirements in attempts to counteract future outbreaks, which requirements may be costly and take a significant amount of time to implement across our expedition fleet and operations.

 

We cannot predict with certainty when any of our ships will begin expedition sailings again and embarkation and disembarkation locations will reopen to our ships. Additionally, once travel advisories and restrictions are lifted, demand for expedition travel may remain weak for a significant length of time, and we cannot predict if and when we will return to previously expected levels of occupancy. Our bookings may be negatively impacted by the adverse changes in the perceived or actual economic climate, including higher unemployment rates, declines in income levels and loss of personal wealth resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, we cannot predict the impact COVID-19 will have on our partners, such as shipyards for new builds, travel agencies, suppliers and other vendors, and on our land-based travel subsidiaries, Natural Habitat, Off the Beaten Path and DuVine. 

 

We have never previously experienced a complete cessation of our expedition operations and, as a consequence, given the dynamic nature of this situation, we cannot reasonably estimate or predict the impact of such a cessation on our costs and future prospects. In particular, we cannot predict the impact on our financial performance and our cash flows required for cash refunds of deposits as a result of the suspension and rescheduling, as applicable, of our expeditions, which may be further extended, and the public’s concern regarding the health and safety of travel, especially by ship, and related decreases in demand for travel. Moreover, our ability to attract and retain guests and crew depends, in part, upon the perception and reputation of our Company, our expedition destinations and offerings and the public’s concerns regarding the health and safety of travel generally, as well as regarding the industry and our ships specifically. 

 

In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly increased economic and demand uncertainty. The current outbreak and continued spread of COVID-19 could cause a global recession, which would have a further adverse impact on our financial condition and operations. In past recessions, demand for our expeditionary travel offerings has been significantly negatively impacted which has resulted in lower occupancy rates and adverse pricing. Current economic forecasts for significant increases in unemployment in the U.S. and other regions is likely to have a negative impact on demand for our expeditions once our sailings resume, and these impacts could exist for an extensive period of time.

 

Risks Related to Our Business and Operations

 

Adverse worldwide economic, geopolitical or other conditions could reduce the demand for expedition travel and adversely impact our operating results, cash flows and financial condition.

 

The demand for travel experiences, including expedition cruises and land-based travel, may be adversely affected by international, national and local economic and geopolitical conditions. In particular, a deterioration in global economic conditions that adversely affects discretionary income and consumer confidence may, in turn, result in decreased bookings, prices and onboard revenues for the expedition and cruise industries. Uncertain economic conditions also impact consumer confidence and pose a risk as vacationers may postpone or reduce discretionary spending. Demand for our expeditions may also be influenced by geopolitical events. Unfavorable conditions, such as cross-border conflicts, civil unrest and governmental changes, health pandemics and other events can decrease consumer demand and result in reduced pricing for expeditions in areas affected by such conditions.

 

Incidents or adverse publicity concerning the cruise industry, the expedition travel industry or the travel industry in general, terrorist attacks, war, travel restrictions, pandemics or other disruptions could affect our reputation as well as have a negative impact on our sales and results of operations.

 

The operation and/or use of cruise ships, land tours, port facilities and shore excursions involves the risk of accidents, illnesses, mechanical failures, environmental incidents including oil spills, and other incidents. Such incidents, whether on one of our expeditions or not, may cause guests and potential guests to question their safety, health, security and vacation satisfaction, and could negatively impact our reputation. Incidents involving cruise ships, particularly the safety and security of guests and crew, media coverage thereof, as well as adverse media publicity in general concerning the cruise industry, have previously impacted and could in the future impact demand for our expeditions and pricing in the industry. The considerable expansion in the use of social media over recent years has compounded the potential scope of the negative publicity that could be generated by those incidents. If any such incident occurs during a time of high seasonal demand, the effect could disproportionately impact our results of operations for the year. In addition, incidents involving cruise ships may result in additional costs to our business, including costs related to increasing government or other regulatory oversight. Incidents involving our own fleet may result in litigation.

 

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Events such as terrorist and pirate attacks, war and other hostilities and the resulting political instability, travel restrictions, such as travel bans to and from certain geographical areas and heightened regulations around customs and border control, the spread of contagious diseases, such as COVID-19 or other viruses, and other related concerns over the safety, health and security aspects of traveling, or the fear of any of the foregoing, have had, and could have in the future, a significant adverse impact on demand and pricing in the travel and vacation industry. In view of our global operations, we are susceptible to a wide range of adverse events, which could decrease demand and adversely affect our business. In addition, adverse publicity from incidents at sea or in remote locations, even when not involving any of our ships or travel offerings, may discourage prospective travelers from taking an expedition-style trip.

 

Our business may be negatively affected by severe or unusual weather conditions, including climate change.

 

Our fleet and the port facilities we use may also be adversely impacted by weather patterns or natural disasters or disruptions, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and changes in ice floes. From time to time, we may be forced to alter itineraries or cancel expeditions due to these or other factors, which could negatively impact our sales and profitability. Additionally, substantial changes to historical weather patterns, whether caused by climate change or other factors, including changing temperature levels, changing rainfall patterns and changing storm patterns and intensities, could significantly impact our future business. Substantial changes to historical weather patterns could result in significant negative changes to the delicate regions that our expeditions venture, such as rising temperatures in the Arctic region that could accelerate the melting of the polar ice cap or changes to the historical weather patterns in delicate areas such as the Galapagos that impacts its ecosystem.

 

In addition, these and any other events that impact the travel industry more generally may negatively impact our ability to deliver guests or crew to our expeditions and/or interrupt our ability to obtain services and goods from key vendors in our supply chain. Any of the foregoing could have an adverse impact on our results of operations and on industry performance.

 

Ship repair, revitalization delays or mechanical issues on existing vessels may result in cancellation of expeditions or unscheduled drydockings and repairs and thus adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We depend on shipyards to repair, maintain and revitalize our ships on a timely basis and to ensure they remain in good working order. The sophisticated nature of repairing and revitalizing a ship involves risks, and shipyards may encounter financial, technical or design problems when doing these jobs. Delays in ship repair, revitalization or mechanical failures have in the past and may in the future result in delays or cancellations of expeditions and unscheduled drydocks and repairs of ships. If there is a significant accident, mechanical failure or similar problem involving a ship, we may have to place a ship in drydock for an extended period for repairs. Any such delays, cancellations of expeditions and/or unscheduled drydockings could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. These events and any related adverse publicity could result in lost revenue, increased operating expenses, or both, and thus adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Delays or cost overruns in building new vessels, including the failure to deliver new vessels, or the financial difficulties of the shipyard building a vessel could have a negative impact on us.

 

We are currently in the process of building a new polar ice-class vessel. Building new vessels is subject to risks of delay or cost overruns caused by conditions beyond our control including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:

 

 

unforeseen engineering or construction problems;

 

 

 

 

changes to design specifications;

 

 

 

 

delays or unanticipated shortages with respect to necessary materials, equipment or skilled labor;

 

 

 

 

inability to obtain the requisite permits, approvals or certifications from governmental authorities and the applicable classification society upon completion of work;

 

 

 

 

financial difficulties of the shipyard building a vessel, including bankruptcy;

 

 

 

 

lack of shipyard availability;

 

 

 

 

work stoppages; and

 

 

 

 

weather interference.

 

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Significant delays, cost overruns and failure to timely deliver a new vessel we have committed to service our guests could adversely affect us in several ways, including delaying the implementation of our business strategies, materially increasing our cost of servicing our commitments to our guests or resulting in the cancellation of scheduled expeditions, which have occurred in the past. In addition, there are a limited number of shipyards with the capability and capacity to build our new ships and, accordingly, increased demand for available new construction slots could impact our ability to construct new ships when and as planned and/or result in stronger bargaining power on the part of the shipyards. We are also at risk of a shipyard experiencing financial difficulty during the process of a new-build, which would subject us to the risk of a shipyard ceasing operations or filing for bankruptcy before delivering a vessel to us, which could substantially delay any new-build and could have a material adverse impact on our business.

 

We must make substantial capital expenditures to maintain and/or expand our fleet and we may not be able to obtain sufficient financing or capital on favorable terms or at all.

 

We must make substantial capital expenditures to maintain our fleet in good working order. Maintenance capital expenditures include those associated with dry docking a vessel or modifying an existing vessel. These expenditures could increase as a result of changes in the cost of labor and materials; customer requirements; increases in our fleet size or the cost of replacement vessels; governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards relating to safety, security or the environment; and competitive standards. In addition, maintenance capital expenditures will vary from quarter to quarter based on the number of vessels dry docked during that quarter. Significant unexpected maintenance capital expenditures could have an adverse impact on our operations.

 

We also continue to make substantial capital expenditures to increase the size of our fleet by constructing new vessels and may acquire existing vessels from other parties in the future. Shipyards generally require us to make installment payments on any new ship build prior to delivery, which requires us to obtain financing or expend a significant amount of our own money to build a new vessel without any corresponding revenue for an extended period of time. In addition, we may not receive the expected demand for our newly constructed or acquired vessels, which could have an adverse impact on our operations.

 

Although we believe we can access sufficient liquidity to fund our maintenance, investments, including new ship construction, and obligations as expected, there can be no assurances to that effect. Our ability to access additional funding as and when needed, including for new ship builds, our ability to timely refinance and/or replace our outstanding debt and credit facilities on acceptable terms or at all will depend upon numerous factors, many of which are beyond our control. Our inability to access sufficient liquidity on favorable terms when needed would have a negative impact on our ability to expand our fleet, our results of operations and our financial condition.

 

 Failure to maintain our partnership with National Geographic could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We have an on-going partnership with National Geographic and any termination or alterations to this relationship will likely have an adverse effect on our business. Pursuant to such agreements, our owned vessels contain the phrase “National Geographic” in their names, we have access to certain of National Geographic’s marks and images for advertising purposes and we and our guests have access to National Geographic photographers, naturalists and other experts. National Geographic has the right in certain instances to unilaterally terminate the Alliance and License Agreement with us, including:

 

 

in the event of a change of control in which Sven-Olof Lindblad or his designated successor ceases to hold a senior management role with the company;

 

 

 

 

our failure to achieve specified year-over-year percentage revenue growth requirements; or

 

 

 

 

a failure to meet the conditions necessary to maintain the relationship through 2025.

 

If any of our agreements with National Geographic are terminated or modified in any material respect, due to any of the reasons set forth above or otherwise, our results of operations will likely be materially adversely affected due to loss of name recognition associated with the National Geographic brand as well as a loss of sales generated through National Geographic channels.

 

An increase in capacity worldwide or excess capacity in a particular market could adversely impact our expedition sales and/or pricing.

 

Expedition sales and/or pricing may be impacted both by the introduction of new ships into the marketplace and by deployment decisions of us and our competitors. Many new expedition class ships have been ordered or are already under construction for our competitors. The growth in capacity from these new ships and future orders, without an increase in the cruise industry’s share of the vacation market, could depress expedition prices and impede our ability to maintain high yields. In addition, to the extent that we or our competitors deploy ships to a particular itinerary and the resulting capacity in that region exceeds the demand, we may consider pricing adjustments or redeploy to other regions, either of which may result in lower than anticipated profitability. We expect our competition in the specialty cruise business to increase in future years as established and newer operators in the expedition market are forecasted to launch numerous vessels into the market over the next two years, either as expansion or vessel replacements. Any of the foregoing could have an adverse impact on our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.

 

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We may lose business to competitors throughout the vacation market.

 

We operate in the vacation market, and expedition cruising is one of many alternatives for people choosing a vacation. We therefore risk losing business not only to other cruise lines, but also to other vacation operators who provide other leisure options, including hotels, resorts and package holidays and tours.

 

We face significant competition from other vacation operators and cruise companies on the basis of pricing, destination, travel agent preference and also in terms of the nature of ships and services we offer to guests. Our competition within the expedition and cruise vacation industries depends on the destination and is fragmented and primarily comprised of private operators. Currently, we do not directly compete with large cruise vessels. However, in the event large cruise operators further expand into offering smaller sized vessels to compete directly with us and our itineraries, we would have increased competition and could face pricing pressures by such competitors through discounts or otherwise that would likely negatively impact our profitability.

 

In the event that we do not differentiate our offerings or otherwise do not compete effectively with other vacation operators and cruise companies, our results of operations and financial position could be adversely affected.

 

Unavailability of ports of call may adversely affect our results of operations.

 

The availability of ports and destinations is affected by a number of factors, including existing capacity constraints, constraints related to the size of certain ships, security, environmental and health concerns, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, financial limitations on port development, exclusivity arrangements that ports may have, geopolitical developments, local governmental regulations and local community concerns about port development and other adverse impacts on their communities from additional tourists and overcrowding. In addition, fuel costs may adversely impact the destinations on certain of our itineraries.

 

Traditionally certain ports and destinations are facing a surge of both cruise and non-cruise tourism which, in certain cases, has fueled anti-tourism sentiments and related countermeasures to limit the volume of tourists allowed in these destinations, including proposed limits on cruise ships and cruise passengers.

 

Any limitations on the availability or feasibility of our ports of call could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Conducting business globally may result in increased costs and other risks.

 

We operate our business globally and plan to continue to expand our international presence. Operating internationally exposes us to a number of risks, including unstable local economic conditions, volatile local political conditions, potential changes in duties and taxes, including changing interpretations of existing tax laws and regulations, potential changes in local laws, rules and regulations, required compliance with additional laws and policies affecting cruising, vacation or maritime businesses or governing the operations of foreign-based companies, currency fluctuations, interest rate movements, government controlled fuel prices, difficulties in operating under local business environments, U.S. and global anti-bribery laws and regulations, imposition of trade barriers, and restrictions on repatriation of earnings. If we are unable to address these risks adequately, our financial position and results of operations could be adversely affected, including potentially impairing the value of our ships, goodwill and other assets.

 

Operating globally also exposes us to numerous and sometimes conflicting legal and regulatory requirements. In many parts of the world, including countries in which we operate, practices in the local business communities might not conform to international business standards. We must adhere to policies designed to promote legal and regulatory compliance with applicable laws and regulations. However, we might not be successful in ensuring that our employees, agents, representatives and other third parties with whom we associate throughout the world properly adhere to these laws and regulations.

 

Failure by us, our employees or any of these third parties to adhere to our policies or applicable laws or regulations could result in penalties, sanctions, damage to our reputation and related costs which in turn could negatively affect our results of operations and cash flows.

 

Our efforts to expand our business into new markets, complete acquisitions or realize the anticipated benefits thereof may not be successful.

 

Expansion into new markets requires significant levels of investment. There can be no assurance that any new markets will develop as anticipated or that we will have success in any new markets, and if we do not, we may be unable to recover our investment, which could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations, including potentially impairing the value of our goodwill.

 

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We may also pursue acquisitions in the future, which are subject to, among other factors, our ability to identify attractive business opportunities and to negotiate favorable terms for such opportunities. Accordingly, we cannot make any assurances that potential acquisitions will be completed timely or at all, or that if completed, we would realize the anticipated benefits of such acquisition. Acquisitions also carry inherent risks such as, among others: (i) the potential delay or failure of our efforts to successfully integrate business processes and realizing expected synergies; (ii) difficulty in aligning procedures, controls and/or policies; and (iii) future unknown liabilities and costs that may be associated with an acquisition. In addition, acquisitions may also adversely impact our liquidity and/or debt levels, and the recognized value of goodwill and other intangible assets can be negatively affected by unforeseen events and/or circumstances, which may result in an impairment charge. Any of the foregoing events could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations.

 

If our redeployment of vessels to a new market with new itineraries is not successful, our business and operating results may be adversely affected.

 

We cannot predict whether new expeditions and new itineraries that we may offer in connection with the redeployment of any of our vessels will attract a number of guests comparable to previous expeditions. If redeployments and new expeditions do not attract as many guests as past expeditions or if there is a delay in finalizing or marketing the new itineraries, our business and operating results may be adversely affected.

 

Failure to develop the value of our brand and differentiate our products could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Our success depends on the strength and continued development of our expedition brand and on the effectiveness of our brand strategies. Failure to protect and differentiate our brand from competitors throughout the vacation market could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We have a relationship with World Wildlife Fund (“WWF”) and the termination or alterations in this relationship may have an adverse effect on our Natural Habitat business.

 

WWF is a leading conservation organization whose mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. Natural Habitat partners with WWF to offer conservation travel through a license agreement that allows Natural Habitat to use the WWF name and logo in return for a royalty fee, through 2023.

 

If Natural Habitat’s license agreement with World Wildlife Fund was terminated or modified in any material respect, our results of operations for the Natural Habitat segment may be materially adversely affected.

 

Environmental, labor, health and safety, financial responsibility and other maritime regulations could affect operations and increase operating costs.

 

Due to concern over the risk of climate change or otherwise, the United States and various state and foreign government or regulatory agencies have enacted or are considering new environmental regulations or policies, such as requiring the use of low sulfur fuels, increasing fuel efficiency requirements, further restricting emissions, or other initiatives to limit greenhouse gas emissions compliance with changes in such laws, regulations and obligations could increase costs related to operating and maintaining our vessels and require us to install new emission controls, acquire allowances or pay taxes related to our greenhouse gas emissions, or administer and manage a greenhouse gas emissions program. Revenue generation and strategic growth opportunities could also be adversely affected by compliance with such changes.

 

In addition, we are subject to various international, national, state and local laws, regulations and treaties that govern, among other things, safety standards applicable to our ships, treatment of disabled persons, health and sanitary standards applicable to our guests, security standards on board our ships and at the ship/port interface areas, and financial responsibilities to our guests. These issues are, and we believe will continue to be, an area of focus by the relevant authorities throughout the world. This could result in the enactment of more stringent regulation of cruise ships that could subject us to increasing compliance costs in the future.

 

Our operating costs could increase due to market forces and economic or geopolitical factors beyond our control.

 

Our capital expenditure and operating costs, including food, hotel, payroll, fuel, maintenance and repair, airfare, taxes, insurance and security costs, are subject to increases due to market forces and economic or political conditions or other factors beyond our control. If prices rise significantly in a short period of time, we may be unable to sufficiently increase fares or other fees to fully offset our increased costs. Increases in capital expenditures and operating costs could adversely affect our profitability.

 

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We historically have been able to obtain insurance coverage in amounts and at premiums we have deemed to be commercially acceptable. No assurance can be given that affordable and secure insurance markets will be available in the future, particularly for war risk insurance. All of our insurance coverage is subject to certain limitations, exclusions and deductible levels.

 

Price increases for commercial airline service for our guests or major changes or reductions in commercial airline service and/or availability could increase our operating expenses and adversely impact the demand for expedition travel.

 

Most of our guests depend on scheduled commercial airline services to transport them to or from the ports where our expeditions embark or disembark passengers. Increases in the price of airfare would increase the overall price of the expedition vacation to our guests, which may adversely impact demand for our expeditions. In addition, changes in the availability of commercial airline services could adversely affect our guests’ ability to obtain air transport, which could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Our reliance on travel agencies to sell and market our cruises exposes us to certain risks that, if realized, could adversely impact our business.

 

Because we rely on travel agencies to generate a substantial portion of the bookings for our ships, we must ensure that our commission rates and incentive structures remain competitive. If we fail to offer competitive compensation packages, these agencies may be incentivized to sell vacation packages offered by our competitors to our detriment, which could adversely impact our operating results. In addition, the travel agent industry is sensitive to economic conditions that impact discretionary income. Significant disruptions or contractions in the industry could reduce the number of travel agencies available for us to market and sell our expeditions, which could have an adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Disruptions in our shoreside operations or our information systems may adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Our principal executive offices are located in New York, New York, and our principal shoreside operations are located in Seattle, Washington. Actual or threatened natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, and floods), terrorist attacks, or other similar disruptive events in these locations may have a material impact on our business continuity, reputation and results of operations. In addition, substantial or repeated information systems failures, computer viruses or cyber-attacks impacting our shoreside or shipboard operations could adversely impact our business. We do not generally carry business interruption insurance for our shoreside operations or our information systems. As such, any losses or damages incurred by us could have an adverse impact on our results of operations.

 

Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could affect our financial results.

 

We pay expenses, recognize assets and incur liabilities in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. Because our consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars, we must convert expenses and liabilities into U.S. dollars at exchange rates in effect during or at the end of each reporting period. Therefore, absent offsetting changes in other foreign currencies, increases or decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar against other major currencies will affect our net income and the value of balance sheet items denominated in foreign currencies. We use limited financial instruments, such as foreign currency forward contracts and swaps, to mitigate our net balance sheet exposure to currency exchange rate fluctuations. However, there can be no assurances that fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, particularly the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against major currencies, would not materially affect our financial results.

 

In addition, we have ship maintenance contracts and ship construction contracts that are denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. We have entered into, and may enter into in the future, forward contracts and/or options to manage a portion of the currency risk associated with these contracts, and we are or may be exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rates for the portions of the contracts that have not been hedged. Additionally, if a shipyard is unable to perform under such a contract, any foreign currency forward contracts that were entered into to manage the currency risk would need to be terminated. Termination of these contracts could result in a significant loss.

 

The interest rates on our credit facilities might change based on changes to the method in which the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) or its replacement rate is determined.

 

LIBOR is the basic rate of interest used in lending transactions between banks on the London interbank market, and is widely used as a reference for setting the interest rate on loans globally. Our Third Amended and Restated Credit Agreement, and our senior secured credit agreements each contain variable interest rates referenced to LIBOR.

 

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On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by June 30, 2022. The Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, has proposed replacing USD-LIBOR with a new index calculated by short term repurchase agreements - the Secured Overnight Financing Rate. At this time, no consensus exists as to what rate or rates may become accepted alternatives to LIBOR, and it is impossible to predict whether and to what extent banks will continue to provide LIBOR submissions to the administrator of LIBOR, whether LIBOR rates will cease to be published or supported before or after June 30, 2022 or whether any additional reforms to LIBOR may be enacted in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

 

The consequences of these developments cannot be entirely predicted, but may result in an increase to our overall borrowing costs and interest expense, which could adversely affect our profitability.

 

The loss of key personnel, our inability to recruit or retain qualified personnel, or disruptions among our shipboard personnel due to strained employee relations could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Our success depends, in large part, on the reputation, skills and contributions of key executives, including Sven-Olof Lindblad, in particular, and other employees, and on our ability to recruit and retain high quality personnel. Our management team is comprised of individuals with a diverse knowledge base and skill sets acquired through extensive experience in expedition cruising, adventure travel, and hospitality. We must continue to sufficiently recruit, retain, train and motivate our employees to maintain our current business and support our projected growth. A loss of key executives or other key employees or disruptions among our personnel could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We rely on third-party providers of various services integral to the operation of our businesses. These third parties may act in ways that could harm our business.

 

In order to achieve cost and operational efficiencies, we outsource to third-party vendors certain services that are integral to the operations of our global businesses. We are subject to the risk that certain decisions are subject to the control of third-party service providers and that these decisions may adversely affect our activities. A failure to adequately monitor a third-party service provider’s compliance with a service level agreement or regulatory or legal requirements could result in significant economic and reputational harm to us.

 

There is also a risk that the confidentiality, privacy and/or security of data held by third parties or communicated over third-party networks or platforms could become compromised. Such a breach could adversely affect our reputation and in turn adversely affect our business.

 

A failure to keep pace with developments in technology or technological obsolescence could impair our operations or competitive position.

 

Our business continues to demand the use of sophisticated technology and systems, such as reservations and reporting systems. These technologies and systems must be refined, updated and/or replaced with more advanced systems in order to continue to meet our guests’ demands and expectations. If we are unable to do so in a timely manner or within reasonable cost parameters or if we are unable to appropriately and timely train our employees to operate any of these new systems, our business could suffer. We also may not achieve the benefits that we anticipate from any new technology or system, and a failure to do so could result in higher than anticipated costs or could impair our operating results.

 

Our failure to properly and efficiently design, construct, implement and operate our new reservations and customer relationship management (“CRM”) computer systems could materially disrupt our operations, adversely impact the servicing of our customers and have a material adverse effect on our financial performance.

 

We are implementing new reservations and CRM systems to modernize and improve current capabilities. The new systems are intended to combine enterprise resource planning solutions, machine learning and custom-built applications to address, among other areas, account management, billing and customer service. The new systems also intend to improve functionality and information flow, help generate higher revenues and increase automation in servicing our customers through the use of artificial intelligence.

 

The failure to properly, efficiently and economically complete transition to and operate the new systems on a timely basis, or at all, could materially disrupt our operations, adversely impact the servicing of our customers and have a material adverse effect on our financial results. 

 

Failure to comply with data privacy and security laws and regulations could adversely affect our operating results and business.

 

A number of U.S. states have enacted data privacy and security laws and regulations that govern the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, storage, disposal, and protection of sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, financial information and other personal information. For example, several U.S. territories and all 50 states now have data breach laws that require timely notification to individual victims, and at times regulators, if a company has experienced the unauthorized access or acquisition of sensitive personal data. Other state laws include the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), which contains new disclosure obligations for businesses that collect personal information about California residents and affords those individuals new rights relating to their personal information that may affect our ability to use personal information or share it with our business partners. In addition, numerous other states have also considered privacy laws like the CCPA. We will continue to monitor and assess the impact of these state laws, which may impose substantial penalties for violations, impose significant costs for investigations and compliance, allow private class-action litigation and carry significant potential liability for our business.

 

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Outside of the U.S., data protection laws, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”), also apply to some of our operations. Legal requirements in these countries relating to the collection, storage, processing and transfer of personal data continue to evolve. The GDPR imposes, among other things, data protection requirements that include strict obligations and restrictions on the ability to collect, analyze and transfer EU personal data, a requirement for prompt notice of data breaches to effected subjects and supervisory authorities in certain circumstances, and possible substantial fines for any violations (including possible fines for certain violations). Other governmental authorities around the world are considering similar types of legislative and regulatory proposals concerning data protection.

 

The interpretation and enforcement of the laws and regulations described above are uncertain and subject to change, and may require substantial costs to monitor and implement compliance with any additional requirements. Failure to comply with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (which could include substantial civil and/or criminal penalties), private litigation and/or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business.

 

Our information technology systems are subject to cyber and other risks, some of which are beyond our control, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial position.

 

We rely heavily on the proper functioning and availability of our information systems for our operations as well as for providing services to our customers. Our information systems, including our accounting, communications and data processing systems, as well as our maritime and/or shoreside operations, are integral to the efficient operation of our business. It is critical that the data processed by these systems remain confidential, as it often includes competitive customer information, confidential customer personally identifiable information and transaction data, employee records and key financial and operational plans, results and statistics. The sophistication of efforts by hackers, foreign governments, cyber-terrorists, and cyber-criminals, acting individually or in coordinated groups, to launch distributed denial of service attacks or other coordinated attacks that may cause service outages, gain inappropriate or block legitimate access to systems or information, or result in other business interruptions has continued to increase in recent years. We utilize third-party service providers who have access to our systems and certain sensitive data, which exposes us to additional security risks, particularly given the complex and evolving laws and regulations regarding privacy and data protection. Cyber incidents that impact the security, availability, reliability, speed, accuracy or other proper functioning of our systems, information and measures, including outages, computer viruses, break-ins and similar disruptions, could have a significant impact on our operations.

 

Although our information systems are protected through physical and software safeguards, as well as redundant systems, network security measures and backup systems, it is difficult to fully protect against the possibility of power loss, telecommunications failures, cyber-attacks, and other cyber incidents in every potential circumstance that may arise. A significant cyber incident, including system failure, security breach, disruption by malware or ransomware, or other damage, could interrupt or delay our operations, damage our reputation and brand, cause a loss of customers, expose us to a risk of loss or litigation, result in regulatory scrutiny, investigations, actions, fines or penalties and/or cause us to incur significant time and expense to remedy such an event, any of which could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and financial position. Furthermore, any failure to comply with data privacy, security or other laws and regulations could result in claims, legal or regulatory proceedings, inquiries or investigations. As cyber threats are continually evolving, our controls and procedures may become inadequate and we may be required to devote additional resources to modifying or enhancing our systems in the future. Furthermore, while we maintain insurance intended to address costs associated with aspects of cyber incidents, network failures and data privacy-related concerns, our coverage may not sufficiently cover all types of losses or claims that may arise.

 

A change in our tax status under the United States Internal Revenue Code (the “Internal Revenue Code”), or other jurisdictions, may have adverse effects on our income.

 

At the present time, many of our subsidiaries that are foreign corporations do not derive any significant income from sources within the United States and are not subject to significant United States federal income taxes. Any income earned by these subsidiaries from sources within the United States generally is subject to United States federal income tax (and United States branch profits tax) unless the requirements of the exemption under Section 883 of the Internal Revenue Code are met. Although we expect that any United States source income of our foreign subsidiaries will generally qualify for the benefits of the Section 883 exemption, there is no assurance that such benefits will be available.

 

In addition, the enactment of legislation implementing changes in taxation of international business activities, the adoption of other corporate tax reform policies, or changes in tax legislation or policies could materially affect our financial position and results of operations. In general, changes in tax laws may affect our tax rate, increase our tax liabilities, carrying value of deferred tax assets, or our deferred tax liabilities. Any substantial changes in international corporate tax policies, enforcement activities or legislative initiatives may materially and adversely affect our business, the amount of taxes we are required to pay and our financial condition and results of operations generally.

 

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Restrictions on travel or access to certain protected or preserved areas could adversely affect our business.

 

Our ability to follow our planned itinerary for any expedition cruise may be affected by a number of factors, including security concerns, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, local government regulations and restrictions and other restrictions on access, including access to protected or preserved areas.

 

For instance, the number of visitors admitted to the Galápagos National Park at any given time is limited by the number of “cupos” permits issued by the Galápagos National Parks Service. In June 2015, the Special Law of Special Regimen for Province of Galapagos was approved and subsequently updated in November 2015. The law established that cupos, which were in effect as of July 2015, will have a validity of nine years. Our rights to operate in the Galapagos will therefore expire in July 2024 based on the law and decree.

 

Although the current holders of cupos will have the opportunity to re-apply for them, other enterprises and individuals will also have the opportunity to bid on cupos as they become subject to renewal. All bidders in this process must present proof that they fulfill the conditions to properly utilize the license. Notable criteria include, without limitation, access to a vessel, experience in tourism, a proven record of environmentally sensitive behavior, marketing requirements, etc. If the Galápagos National Parks Service were to further restrict access to the park, we might be required to alter certain of our travel itineraries. Such a development would negatively impact our business and revenues.

 

Changes in other governmental and environmental rules and regulations in the Galápagos Islands and other travel destinations could also cause sudden losses in revenue, together with additional expenditures due to the need to revise our existing itineraries. Restrictions on access for us and our guests to other protected or preserved areas, including national parks, may result in losses in revenues typically generated by our expeditions to such areas.

 

Litigation, enforcement actions, fines or penalties could adversely impact our financial condition or results of operations and/or damage our reputation.

 

Our business is subject to various United States and international laws and regulations that could lead to enforcement actions, fines, civil or criminal penalties or the assertion of litigation claims and damages. In addition, improper conduct by our employees, agents, partners, or expedition representatives could damage our reputation and/or lead to litigation or legal proceedings that could result in civil or criminal penalties, including substantial monetary fines. In certain circumstances, it may not be economical to defend against such matters and/or a legal strategy may not ultimately result in us prevailing in a matter. Such events could lead to an adverse impact on our financial condition or results of operations.

 

In addition, as a result of any ship-related or other incidents, claims, enforcement actions and regulatory actions and investigations, including, but not limited to, those arising from personal injury, loss of life, loss of or damage to personal property, business interruption losses or environmental damage to any affected coastal waters and the surrounding area, may be asserted or brought against various parties, including us and/or our subsidiaries. The time and attention of our management may also be diverted in defending such claims, actions and investigations. Subject to applicable insurance coverage, we may also incur costs both in defending against any claims, actions and investigations and for any judgments, fines, civil or criminal penalties if such claims, actions or investigations are adversely determined.

 

Failure to comply with international safety regulations may subject us to increased liability that may adversely affect our insurance coverage resulting in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports which could adversely affect our business.

 

The operation of vessels is affected by the requirements of the International Maritime Organization’s International Safety Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention (“ISM Code”). The ISM Code requires ship owners and bareboat charterers to develop and maintain an extensive “Safety Management System” that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies. A failure to comply with the ISM Code may subject us to increased liability, invalidate existing insurance or decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and result in a denial of access to or detention in certain ports, all of which could materially and adversely affect our results of operations and liquidity.

 

Compliance with existing or changing laws and regulations could adversely affect our business.

 

Extensive and changing laws and regulations directly affect the operation of our vessels. These laws and regulations take the form of international conventions and agreements, including the International Maritime Organization conventions and regulations and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which are applicable to all internationally trading vessels, and national, state and local laws and regulations, all of which are amended frequently. Under these laws and regulations, various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies and other regulatory authorities may require us to obtain permits, licenses and certificates in connection with our operations. Some countries in which we operate have laws that restrict the nationality of a vessel’s crew and prior and future ports of call, as well as other considerations relating to particular national interests. Changes in governmental regulations and safety or other equipment standards may require unbudgeted expenditures for alterations or the addition of new equipment for our vessels.

 

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An inability to obtain adequate insurance coverage could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

While we maintain comprehensive insurance and believe that our current coverage is at appropriate levels, we are not protected against all risks and there can be no assurance that any particular claim will be fully paid by our insurance. Such losses, to the extent they are not adequately covered by contractual remedies or insurance, could affect our financial results. Our protection and indemnity (“P&I”) liability insurance is placed on a mutual basis and we are subject to additional premium calls in amounts based on claim records of all members of the P&I Club (i.e. mutual association) in which our ships are entered. We are also subject to additional premium assessments including, but not limited to, investment or underwriting shortfalls experienced by the P&I Club. If we were to sustain significant losses in the future, our ability to obtain insurance coverage at all or at commercially reasonable rates could be materially adversely affected. Moreover, irrespective of the occurrence of such events, there can still be no assurance that we will be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at commercially reasonable rates or at all.

 

If we do not restrict the amount of ownership of our common stock by non-U.S. citizens, we could be prohibited from operating vessels in U.S. coastwise trade, which would adversely impact our business and operating results.

 

To the extent any of our United States flagged vessels are engaged in transporting passengers on the U.S. coastwise trade, we will be subject to the Coastwise Laws, which govern, among other things, the ownership and operation of vessels used to carry cargo or passengers between U.S. ports. Subject to limited exceptions, the Coastwise Laws and the regulations promulgated thereunder require that such vessels engaged in the U.S. coastwise trade be built in the United States, registered under the U.S. flag, manned by predominantly U.S. crews, and beneficially owned and operated by U.S. organized companies that are controlled and at least 75% owned by U.S. citizens within the meaning of the statutes. A failure to maintain compliance with the Coastwise Laws would adversely affect our financial position and our results of operations as we would be prohibited from operating vessels in the U.S. coastwise trade during any period in which we do not comply or cannot demonstrate to the satisfaction of the relevant governmental authorities our compliance with the Coastwise Laws. In addition, a failure to maintain compliance could subject us to fines and our vessels could be subject to seizure and forfeiture for violations of the Coastwise Laws and the related U.S. vessel documentation laws.

 

Restrictions on non-U.S. citizen ownership of certain U.S. flagged vessels could limit our ability to sell off a portion of our business or result in the forfeiture of certain of our vessels.

 

Compliance with the Coastwise Laws requires that non-U.S. citizens beneficially own no more than 24.99% in the entities that directly or indirectly own the vessels that operate in the U.S. coastwise trade. If we were to seek to sell any portion of our business that owns any of these vessels, we would have fewer potential purchasers because some potential purchasers might be unable or unwilling to satisfy the U.S. citizenship restrictions described above. As a result, the sales price for that portion of the business may not attain the amount that could be obtained in an unregulated market.

 

We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, which could, if not remediated, adversely affect our ability to report our financial condition and results of operations in a timely and accurate manner.

 

Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, our management is required to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting in our annual reports, and annually our independent auditors must attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. It is necessary for us to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting to prevent fraud and errors and to maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures so that we can provide timely and reliable financial and other information. A failure to maintain adequate internal controls may adversely affect our ability to provide financial statements that accurately reflect our financial condition and report information on a timely basis.

 

We have concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was not effective as of December 31, 2020 due to the existence of a material weakness in such controls, and we have also concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective as of December 31, 2020 due to a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, as described in Part II, Item 9A, “Controls and Procedures” of this Annual Report. While we have initiated remediation measures to address the identified material weakness, we cannot provide assurance that our remediation efforts will be adequate to allow us to conclude that such controls will be effective in the future. We also cannot assure you that additional material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting will not arise or be identified in the future. We intend to continue our control remediation activities and to continue to improve our overall control environment as well as to continue to train, retain and manage our personnel who are essential to effective internal controls. If we are unable to successfully complete our remediation efforts in a timely manner and are, therefore, not able to favorably assess the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, this could further cause investors to lose confidence, and our operating results, financial position, ability to accurately report our financial results and timely file our SEC reports, and stock price could be adversely affected.

 

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Moreover, because of the inherent limitations of any control system, material misstatements due to error or fraud may not be prevented or detected on a timely basis, or at all. If we are unable to provide reliable and timely financial reports in the future, our business and reputation may be further harmed. Restated financial statements and failures in internal controls may also cause us to fail to meet reporting obligations, negatively affect investor and customer confidence in our management or result in adverse publicity and concerns from investors and customers, any of which could have a negative effect on the price of our common stock, subject us to further regulatory investigations, potential penalties or stockholder litigation, and have a material adverse impact on our business and financial condition.

 

Risks Related to Our Debt

 

Our debt could adversely affect our financial health and operating flexibility.

 

Our debt could:

 

require us to dedicate a large portion of our cash flow from operations to service debt and fund repayments on our debt, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes;

 

increase our vulnerability to adverse general economic or industry conditions;

 

limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business or the industry in which we operate;

 

place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt;

 

make us more vulnerable to downturns in our business, the economy or the industry in which we operate;

 

limit our ability to raise additional debt or equity capital in the future to satisfy our requirements relating to working capital, capital expenditures, development projects, strategic initiatives or other purposes;

 

restrict us from making strategic acquisitions, introducing new technologies or exploiting business opportunities;

 

make it difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our debt; and

 

expose us to the risk of increased interest rates as certain of our borrowings are (and may be in the future) at a variable rate of interest.

 

We will require a significant amount of cash to service our debt and sustain our operations. Our ability to generate cash depends on many factors beyond our control, and we may not be able to generate cash required to service our debt.

 

Our ability to meet our other debt service obligations or refinance our debt depends on our future operating and financial performance and ability to generate cash. This will be affected by our ability to successfully implement our business strategy, as well as general economic, financial, competitive, regulatory and other factors beyond our control, such as the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If we cannot generate sufficient cash to meet our debt service obligations or fund our other business needs, we may, among other things, need to refinance all or a portion of our debt, obtain additional financing, delay planned capital expenditures or sell assets. We cannot be assured that we will be able to generate sufficient cash through any of the foregoing. If we are not able to refinance any of our debt, obtain additional financing or sell assets on commercially reasonable terms or at all, we may not be able to satisfy our obligations with respect to our debt. 

 

The impact of volatility and disruptions in the global credit and financial markets may adversely affect our ability to borrow and could increase our counterparty credit risks, including those under our credit facilities, derivatives, contingent obligations, insurance contracts and new ship contractual payments.

 

There can be no assurance that we will be able to access additional debt and/or credit facilities on terms as favorable as our current debt, on commercially acceptable terms, or at all. Economic downturns, including failures of financial institutions and any related liquidity crisis, can disrupt the capital and credit markets. Such disruptions could cause counterparties under our credit facilities, derivatives, contingent obligations and insurance contracts to be unable to perform their obligations or to breach their obligations to us under our contracts with them, which could include failures of financial institutions to fund required borrowings under our loan agreements and to pay us amounts that may become due under our derivative contracts and other agreements. Also, we may be limited in obtaining funds to pay amounts due to our counterparties under our derivative contracts and to pay amounts that may become due under other agreements. If we were to elect to replace any counterparty for their failure to perform their obligations under such instruments, we would likely incur significant costs to replace the counterparty. Any failure to replace any counterparties under these circumstances may result in additional costs to us or an ineffective instrument.

 

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We may not be able to obtain sufficient financing or capital for our needs or may not be able to do so on terms that are acceptable or consistent with our expectations.

 

Any circumstance or event that leads to a decrease in consumer cruise and land-based travel spending, such as worsening global economic conditions or significant incidents impacting the cruise industry, the expedition cruise industry or the travel industry, could negatively affect our operating cash flows. Although we expect that we will have sufficient cash flows from operations following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and expect we will have sufficient access to capital to fund our operations and obligations as expected, there can be no assurances to that effect. Our ability to access additional funding as and when needed, our ability to timely refinance and/or replace outstanding debt and credit facilities on acceptable terms and our cost of funding will depend upon numerous factors including but not limited to the condition of the financial markets, our financial performance and credit ratings and the performance of our industry in general.

 

Any inability to satisfy any covenants required by existing or future credit facilities could adversely impact our liquidity.

 

Our Third Amended and Restated Credit Agreement (“Amended Credit Agreement”), as amended, and our senior secured credit agreements (the “Export Credit Agreement” and the “Second Export Credit Agreement”), as amended, contain certain financial covenants and are secured by substantially all of our assets. Any failure to comply with such terms, conditions, and covenants could result in an event of default. Further, if an event of default under a facility were to occur, cross default provisions, if any, could cause our other outstanding debt, if any, to be immediately due and payable. Upon such an occurrence, there could be no assurance that we would have sufficient liquidity to repay or the ability to refinance the borrowings under any such credit facilities or settle other outstanding contracts if such amounts were accelerated upon an event of default.

 

Risks Related to Ownership of Capital Stock by Individuals and Entities that are not U.S. Citizens

 

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation limits the beneficial ownership of our capital stock by individuals and entities that are not U.S. citizens within the meaning of the Coastwise Laws. These restrictions may affect the liquidity of our capital stock and may result in non-U.S. citizens being required to disgorge profits, sell their shares at a loss or relinquish their voting, dividend and distribution rights.

 

Under the Coastwise Laws, and so long as we operate U.S. flagged vessels in coastwise trade, at least 75% of the outstanding shares of each class or series of our capital stock must be beneficially owned and controlled by U.S. citizens within the meaning of the Coastwise Laws. Certain provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation are intended to facilitate compliance with this requirement and may have an adverse effect on certain holders or proposed transferees of shares of our common stock.

 

Under the provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, any transfer, or attempted transfer, of any shares of capital stock will be void if the effect of such transfer, or attempted transfer, would be to cause one or more non-U.S. citizens in the aggregate to own (of record or beneficially) shares of any class or series of our capital stock in excess of 22% of the outstanding shares of such class or series. The liquidity or market value of the shares of common stock may be adversely impacted by such transfer restrictions.

 

In the event such restrictions voiding transfers would be ineffective for any reason, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that if any transfer would otherwise result in the number of shares of any class or series of capital stock owned (of record or beneficially) by non-U.S. citizens being in excess of 22% of the outstanding shares of such class or series, such transfer will cause such excess shares to be automatically transferred to a trust for the exclusive benefit of one or more charitable beneficiaries that are U.S. citizens. The proposed transferee will have no rights in the shares transferred to the trust, and the trustee, who is a U.S. citizen chosen by us and unaffiliated with us or the proposed transferee, will have all voting, dividend and distribution rights associated with the shares held in the trust. The trustee will sell such excess shares to a U.S. citizen within 20 days of receiving notice from us and distribute to the proposed transferee the lesser of the price that the proposed transferee paid for such shares and the amount received from the sale, and any gain from the sale will be paid to the charitable beneficiary of the trust.

 

These trust transfer provisions also apply to situations where ownership of a class or series of capital stock by non-U.S. citizens in excess of 22% would be exceeded by a change in the status of a record or beneficial owner thereof from a U.S. citizen to a non-U.S. citizen, in which case such person will receive the lesser of the market price of the shares on the date of such status change and the amount received from the sale. In addition, under our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, if the sale or other disposition of shares of common stock would result in non-U.S. citizens owning (of record or beneficially) in excess of 22% of the outstanding shares of common stock, the excess shares shall be automatically transferred to a trust for disposal by a trustee in accordance with the trust transfer provisions described above. As part of the foregoing trust transfer provisions, the trustee will be deemed to have offered the excess shares in the trust to us at a price per share equal to the lesser of (i) the market price on the date we accept the offer and (ii) the price per share in the purported transfer or original issuance of shares, as described in the preceding paragraph, or the market price per share on the date of the status change, that resulted in the transfer to the trust.

 

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As a result of the above trust transfer provisions, a proposed transferee that is a non-U.S. citizen or a record or beneficial owner whose citizenship status change results in excess shares may not receive any return on its investment in shares it purportedly purchases or owns, as the case may be, and it may sustain a loss.

 

To the extent that the above trust transfer provisions would be ineffective for any reason, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, if the percentage of the shares of any class or series of capital stock owned (of record or beneficially) by non-U.S. citizens is known to us to be in excess of 22% for such class or series, we, in our sole discretion, shall be entitled to redeem all or any portion of such shares most recently acquired (as determined by us in accordance with guidelines that are set forth in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation), by non-U.S. citizens, or owned (of record or beneficially) by non-U.S. citizens as a result of a change in citizenship status, in excess of such permitted percentage for such class or series at a redemption price based on a fair market value formula that is set forth in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. Such excess shares shall not be accorded any voting, dividend or distribution rights until they have ceased to be excess shares, provided that they have not been already redeemed by us. As a result of these provisions, a shareholder who is a non-U.S. citizen may be required to sell its shares of common stock at an undesirable time or price and may not receive any return on its investment in such shares. Further, we may have to incur additional indebtedness, or use available cash (if any), to fund all or a portion of such redemption, in which case our financial condition may be materially weakened.

 

In order to assist our compliance with the Coastwise Laws, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation permits us to require that any record or beneficial owner of any shares of our capital stock provide us with certain documentation concerning such owner’s citizenship. These provisions include a requirement that every person acquiring, directly or indirectly, five percent (5%) or more of the shares of any class or series of our capital stock must provide us with specified citizenship documentation. In the event that any person does not submit such requested or required documentation to us, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides us with certain remedies, including the suspension of the voting rights of the person’s shares owned by persons unable or unwilling to submit such documentation and the payment of dividends and distributions with respect to those shares into a segregated account. As a result of non-compliance with these provisions, a record or beneficial owner of the shares of our common stock may lose significant rights associated with those shares.

 

In addition to the risks described above, the foregoing ownership restrictions on non-U.S. citizens could delay, defer or prevent a transaction or change in control that might involve a premium price for common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our shareholders.

 

If non-U.S. citizens own more than 22% of our capital stock, we may not have the funds or the ability to redeem any excess shares and the charitable trust mechanism described above may be deemed invalid or unenforceable, all with the result that we could be forced to either suspend our operations in the U.S. coastwise trade or be subject to substantial penalties.

 

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation contains provisions voiding transfers of shares of any class or series of our capital stock that would result in non-U.S. citizens within the meaning of the Coastwise Laws, in the aggregate, owning in excess of 22% of the shares of such class or series. In the event that this transfer restriction would be ineffective, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides for the automatic transfer of such excess shares to a trust specified therein. These trust provisions also apply to excess shares that would result from a change in the status of a record or beneficial owner of shares of our capital stock from a U.S. citizen to a non-U.S. citizen. In the event that these trust transfer provisions would also be ineffective, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation permits us to redeem such excess shares. The per-share redemption price may be paid, as determined by our Board of Directors, by cash or redemption notes or the shares may be redeemed for warrants. However, we may not be able to redeem such excess shares for cash because our operations may not have generated sufficient excess cash flow to fund such redemption. Further, the methodology for transfer to and sale by a charitable trust could be deemed invalid or unenforceable in one or more jurisdictions. If, for any reason, we are unable to effect a redemption or charitable sale when beneficial ownership of shares by non-U.S. citizens is in excess of 24.99% of the common stock, or otherwise prevent non-U.S. citizens in the aggregate from beneficially owning shares in excess of 24.99% of any class or series of capital stock, or fail to exercise our redemption or forced sale rights because we are unaware that ownership exceeds such percentage, we will likely be unable to comply with the Coastwise Laws and will likely be required by the applicable governmental authorities to suspend our operations in the U.S. coastwise trade. Any such actions by governmental authorities would have a severely detrimental impact on our financial position, results of operations and cash flows and any failure to suspend operations in violation of the Coastwise Laws could cause us to be subject to material financial and operational penalties.

 

General Risks Related to Our Securities

 

An active trading market for our common stock may not be sustained, and you may not be able to resell your shares at or above the price at which you purchased them.

 

An active trading market for our shares may not be sustained. In the absence of an active trading market for our common stock, shares of common stock may not be able to be resold at or above the purchase price of such shares. Although there can be no assurances, we expect that our common stock will continue to be listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market. However, even if our

 

29

 

common stock continues to be listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market, there is no assurance that an active market for our common stock will continue in the foreseeable future.

 

We do not intend to pay any common stock dividends to shareholders in the foreseeable future.

 

We have not paid any cash dividends on our shares of common stock to date and do not intend to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future. The payment of cash dividends in the future will be dependent upon our revenues and earnings, if any, capital requirements and general financial conditions. The payment of any dividends is within the discretion of our Board of Directors. It is the present intention of our Board of Directors to retain all earnings, if any, for use in our business operations and, accordingly, our Board of Directors does not anticipate declaring any dividends in the foreseeable future. As a result, any gain you will realize on our securities will result solely from the appreciation of such securities.

 

Provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws and Delaware law may inhibit a takeover of us, which could limit the price investors might be willing to pay in the future for our common stock and could entrench management.

 

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws contain provisions that may discourage unsolicited takeover proposals that stockholders may consider to be in their best interests. Our board of directors is divided into three classes, each of which will generally serve for a term of three years with only one class of directors being elected in each year. As a result, at a given annual meeting only a minority of the board of directors may be considered for election. Since our “staggered board” may prevent our stockholders from replacing a majority of our board of directors at any given annual meeting, it may entrench management and discourage unsolicited stockholder proposals that may be in the best interests of stockholders. Moreover, our Board of Directors has the ability to designate the terms of and issue new series of preferred stock.

 

We are also subject to anti-takeover provisions under Delaware law, which could delay or prevent a change of control. Together these provisions may make more difficult the removal of management and may discourage transactions that otherwise could involve payment of a premium over prevailing market prices for our securities. 

 

Our common stock ranks junior to our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock with respect to dividends and amounts payable in the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding-up of our affairs.

 

Our common stock ranks junior to our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock, with respect to the payment of dividends and amounts payable in the event of our liquidation, dissolution or winding-up of our affairs. Upon our liquidation, dissolution or winding up, each share of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock will be entitled to receive an amount per share equal to the greater of (i) the purchase price paid for such shares, plus all accrued and unpaid interest and (ii) the amount that the holder would have been entitled to receive at such time if the Series A Convertible Preferred Stock were converted into common stock and no distribution of our assets may be made to holders of our common stock until we have paid to holders of our Series A Convertible Preferred Stock such liquidation preference.

 

Certain rights of the holders of the Series A Convertible Preferred Stock could delay or prevent an otherwise beneficial takeover or takeover attempt of us.

 

Certain rights of the holders of the Series A Convertible Preferred Stock could make it more difficult or more expensive for a third party to acquire us. If we undergo a Change of Control (as defined in the certificate of designations for the Series A Convertible Preferred Stock), each holder will have the right to cause us to redeem any or all of its shares of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock for cash consideration equal to the greater of (i) $1,120 per share and (ii) the purchase price paid for such shares, plus all accrued and unpaid interest. These features of the Series A Convertible Preferred Stock could increase the cost of acquiring us or otherwise discourage a third party from acquiring us or removing incumbent management.

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

Item 2.

Properties

 

Our principal executive office is located at 96 Morton Street, New York, New York where we lease approximately 13,000 square feet. Our principal shoreside operations are located at 2505 Second Avenue, Seattle, Washington, consisting of approximately 11,000 square feet. We also lease our Natural Habitat office in Louisville, Colorado, a media studio in Burlington, Vermont and warehouse space in Seattle, Washington for our shoreside operations. A description of our vessels is set forth in Item 1 under the subheading “Lindblad Expeditions Ships.”

 

30

 

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

 

We are involved in various claims, legal actions and regulatory proceedings arising from time to time in the ordinary course of business. We are not currently involved in any litigation nor, to our knowledge, is any litigation threatened against us, the outcome of which would, in our judgment based on information currently available to us, have a material adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations.

 

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

Not applicable.

 

31

 

PART II

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Market Information

 

Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol “LIND”.

 

Holders

 

As of January 31, 2021, there were 174 holders of record of our common stock. Since certain of our shares are held by brokers and other institutions on behalf of shareholders, the foregoing number is not representative of the number of beneficial owners.

 

Dividends

 

We have not paid any cash dividends on our common stock to date. We intend to retain all earnings for use in our business operations and for purchases of our common stock, accordingly, our Board of Directors does not anticipate declaring any dividends in the foreseeable future. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our Board and will depend upon our results of operations, financial condition, restrictions imposed by applicable law and our financing agreements and other factors that our Board of Directors deems relevant. The Incremental Assumption Agreement and Third Amendment to Third Amended and Restated Credit Agreement restricts us from declaring and paying cash dividends.

 

Recent Sales by the Company of Unregistered Securities

 

There were no unregistered sales of equity securities during the three months ended December 31, 2020.

 

Repurchases of Securities

 

Our Board of Directors approved a stock and warrant repurchase plan (“Repurchase Plan”) in November 2015 and increased the Repurchase Plan to $35.0 million in November 2016. This Repurchase Plan authorizes us to purchase from time to time our outstanding common stock through open market repurchases in compliance with Rule 10b-18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and/or in privately negotiated transactions based on market and business conditions, applicable legal requirements and other factors. Any shares purchased will be retired. The Repurchase Plan has no time deadline and will continue until otherwise modified or terminated at the sole discretion of our Board of Directors at any time. The repurchases exclude shares repurchased to settle statutory employee tax withholding related to the vesting of stock awards. See Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements Note 11 – Stockholders' Equity for more information. During March 2020, the Repurchase Plan was suspended due to the uncertain impact of the COVID-19 virus and our borrowings through the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility program places restrictions on stock repurchases. No shares were repurchased under the Repurchase Plan during the three months ended December 31, 2020.

 

The following table represents information with respect to shares of common stock withheld from vesting of stock-based compensation awards for employee income taxes, for the periods indicated:

 

Period

 

Total number of shares purchased

   

Average price paid per share

   

Dollar value of shares purchased as part of publicly announced plans or programs

   

Maximum dollar value of warrants and shares that may be purchased under approved plans or programs

 

October 1 through October 31, 2020 (a)

    584     $ 7.79     $ -     $ 11,974,787  

November 1 through November 30, 2020 (a)

   

-

      -       -       11,974,787  

December 1 through December 31, 2020 (a)

    469       15.60       -       11,974,787  

Total

    1,053             $ -          

________

 

(a)

Amount relates to shares withheld from vesting's of stock-based compensation awards for employee income tax withholding.

 

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Stock Performance Graph

 

The following stock performance graph compares the performance of our common stock from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2020 with the performance of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Stock Index and the FTSE 100 Index. The graph assumes an initial investment of $100 on December 31, 2015 and reinvestment of dividends.

 

chart.jpg

 

 

 

 

   

12/31/15

   

12/31/16

   

12/31/17

   

12/31/18

   

12/31/19

   

12/31/20

 

LIND

  $ 100.00     $

85.06

     $ 88.12      $ 121.15      $ 147.25      $ 154.10  

S&P 500

    100.00       109.54       130.81       122.65       157.60       183.77  

FTSE 100 Index

    100.00       114.43       123.16       107.21       120.83       110.11  

 

 

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

 

The following selected financial data should be read in conjunction with Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations and Financial Condition, the Consolidated Financial Statements and the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

   

For the years ended December 31,

 

(In thousands, except share and per share data)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

   

2017

   

2016

 

Income Statement Data:

                                       

Tour revenues

  $ 82,356     $ 343,091     $ 309,734     $ 266,504     $ 242,346  

Operating (loss) income

    (88,398 )     33,198       25,338       10,744       13,981  

Net (loss) income

    (100,140 )     18,748       11,552       (7,529 )     5,059  

Per Share Data:

                                       

Earnings (loss) per share:

                                       

Basic

  $ (2.01 )   $ 0.29     $ 0.25     $ (0.19 )   $ 0.11  

Diluted

  $ (2.01 )   $ 0.28     $ 0.24     $ (0.19 )   $ 0.10  

Weighted average shares outstanding, basic

    49,737,129       47,440,788       45,378,188       44,576,912       45,649,971  

Weighted average shares outstanding, diluted

    49,737,129       49,426,563       46,340,054       44,576,912       46,456,921  

 

33

 

   

As of December 31,

 

(In thousands)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

   

2017

   

2016

 

Balance Sheet Data:

                                       

Total assets

  $ 757,449     $ 548,658     $ 473,409     $ 424,348     $ 407,701  

Long-term debt

    482,614       218,068       190,089       165,936       165,878  

Total liabilities

    631,172       409,296       350,863       311,724       288,722  

Total stockholders' equity

    34,958       123,250       116,044       106,322       113,809  

 

 

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Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of the Results of Operations and Financial Condition

 

The information contained in this section should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes and the information contained elsewhere in this Form 10-K under the headings “Risk Factors,” “Selected Financial Data,” and “Business.”

 

Overview

 

We provide expedition sailing and adventure travel experiences that include itineraries featuring up-close encounters with wildlife and nature, history and culture and promote guest empowerment and interactivity. Our mission is to offer life-changing adventures and wildlife experiences around the world and pioneer innovative ways to allow our guests to connect with exotic and remote places. Many of these expeditions involve travel to remote places, such as voyages to the Arctic, Antarctic, the Galapagos Islands, Alaska, Baja’s Sea of Cortez, the South Pacific, Costa Rica and Panama, polar bear tours in Churchill, Canada and Alaskan grizzly bear tours and African safaris.

 

We currently operate a fleet of nine owned expedition ships and five seasonal charter vessels under the Lindblad brand. We have a strategic business alliance with National Geographic founded on a shared interest in exploration, research, technology and conservation. This relationship includes a co-selling, co-marketing and branding arrangement whereby our owned vessels carry the National Geographic name and National Geographic sells our expeditions through its internal travel division. We collaborate with National Geographic on voyage planning to enhance the guest experience by having National Geographic experts, including photographers, writers, marine biologists, naturalists, field researchers and film crews, join our expeditions. Guests have the ability to interface with these experts through lectures, excursions, dining and other experiences throughout their voyage.

 

We deploy chartered vessels for various seasonal offerings and continually seek to optimize our charter fleet to balance our inventory with demand and maximized yields. We use our charter inventory as a mechanism to both increase travel options of our existing and prospective guests and also to test demand for certain areas and seasons to understand the potential for longer term deployments and additional vessel needs.

 

Management considers investments in new ships to be an important step to meet increasing demand for our expedition cruise offerings. The National Geographic Quest launched in 2017 and operates in Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest during the summer months and voyages to the Channel Islands, Belize, Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama to provide expeditions for the Northern Hemisphere winter season. The National Geographic Venture launched in 2018 and operates primarily in the Channel Islands, Baja California and the Sea of Cortez during the Northern Hemisphere winter seasons and Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest during the summer. The National Geographic Endurance launched in 2020 and will operate primarily in the Arctic and Antarctic. Our new polar ice class vessel, the National Geographic Resolution, is scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will operate primarily in the Arctic and Antarctic.

 

COVID-19 Business Update 

 

Due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the effects of travel restrictions around the world, we have suspended or rescheduled the majority of our expeditions departing March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2021. We have been working with guests to amend travel plans and refund payments, as applicable. Our ships are currently being maintained with minimally required crew on-board to ensure they comply with all necessary regulations and can be fully put back into service quickly as needed. In accordance with local regulations, we closed our offices and most employees are working remotely to maintain general business operations, to provide assistance to existing and potential guests and to maintain information technology systems. 

 

We moved quickly to implement a comprehensive plan to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and preserve and enhance our liquidity position. We are employing a variety of cost reduction and cash preservation measures, while accessing available capital under our existing debt facilities and through the issuance of preferred stock, while exploring additional sources of capital and liquidity. These measures include the following operating expense and capital expenditure reductions:

 

 

Significantly reduced ship and land-based expedition costs including crew payroll, land costs, fuel and food. All ships have been safely laid up.

 

 

 

 

Lowered expected annual maintenance capital expenditures by over $15 million, savings of more than 70% from originally planned levels.

 

 

 

 

Meaningfully reduced general and administrative expenses through staff furloughs, payroll reductions and the elimination of all non-essential travel, office expenses and discretionary spending.

 

 

 

 

Suspended the majority of planned advertising and marketing spend. 

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Suspended all repurchases of common stock under the stock repurchase plan.

 

Bookings Trends

 

We were off to a strong start to the year with Lindblad segment bookings at the end of February up 25% for the full year 2020 as compared to the same point a year ago for 2019, and had sold 86% of our originally projected guest ticket revenues for the year. Since that point, we have experienced a substantial impact from the COVID-19 virus including elevated cancellations and softness in near-term demand. Despite the COVID-19 impact, we still have substantial advanced bookings for future travel. Bookings for the second half of 2021 are 1% ahead of bookings for 2020 as of the same date a year ago, despite less available guest nights, and 33% ahead of bookings for 2019 as of the same date two years ago. Bookings for the full year 2022 are 32% ahead of the bookings for 2021 as of the same date a year ago. We continue to see new bookings for future travel including over $110.0 million since March 1, 2020, and we are receiving deposits and final payments for future travel.

 

For 2020 and 2021 voyages that have been cancelled or rescheduled, we are providing future travel credits with incremental value or full refunds, as applicable, to our paid guests. As of February 25, 2021, the majority of guests have opted for future travel credits. 

 

Balance Sheet and Liquidity

 

As of December 31, 2020, we had $187.5 million in unrestricted cash and $17.0 million in restricted cash primarily related to deposits on future travel originating from U.S. ports. During the first quarter of 2020 we drew down $45.0 million under our revolving credit facility to provide working capital and general corporate purposes given the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic and borrowed $107.7 million under our first export credit agreement in conjunction with final payment on delivery of the National Geographic Endurance in March 2020. During April 2020, we drew down $30.6 million under our second export credit agreement in conjunction with the third installment payment on the National Geographic Resolution, scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

 

During May 2020, we amended our $2.5 million promissory note, changing the maturity date of the principal payments to be due in three equal installments, with the first payment made on December 22, 2020, the second due on December 22, 2021 and the final payment due on December 22, 2022.

 

During June 2020, we amended our export credit agreements to defer approximately $9.0 million in aggregate scheduled amortization payments originally due in June 2020 through March 2021 and to suspend the total net leverage ratio covenant from June 2020 through June 2021. On August 7, 2020, we amended our term loan and revolving credit facilities to waive the application of the total net leverage ratio covenant through June 2021. In connection with the amendment, the interest rate of the term loan has been increased 125 basis points, to be paid-in-kind at maturity, a LIBOR minimum of 0.75% has been added to the term loan and revolving credit facilities and certain covenants have been amended to be more restrictive.

 

During August 2020, we raised $85.0 million in gross proceeds through the private placement issuance of 85,000 shares of Series A Redeemable Convertible Preferred Stock, that carries a 6.0% annual dividend, which is payable in kind for two years and thereafter in cash or in-kind at the Company’s option. The redeemable convertible preferred stock is convertible into shares of Lindblad common stock at a conversion price of $9.50 per share, representing a premium of 23% to Lindblad’s 30-day trading volume weighted average price on the date of issuance. The holders may request redemption of the Preferred Stock at the six-year anniversary of the issuance.

 

During December 2020, we amended our term loan and revolving credit facilities, and borrowed an incremental $85.0 million under the amended term loan through the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility program. The incremental borrowing carries an interest rate of LIBOR plus 3.0% and matures December 2025 with no early payment restrictions.

 

As of December 31, 2020, we had a total debt position of $496.5 million and were in compliance with all of our debt covenants currently in effect. We have no material debt maturities until 2023.

 

We estimate our monthly cash usage while our vessels are not in operations to be approximately $10-15 million including ship and office operating expenses, necessary capital expenditures and interest and principal payments. This excludes guest payments for future travel and cash refunds requested on previously made guest payments. We continue to evaluate additional strategies to enhance our liquidity position which may include, but are not limited to, further reductions in operating expenses, capital expenditures and administrative costs as well as additional financings.

 

36

 

We have not previously experienced a complete cessation of our operations and, as a consequence, our ability to predict the impact of such cessation on our costs and future prospects is limited. Given the dynamic nature of this situation, we cannot reasonably estimate the impacts of the COVID-19 virus on our financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, plans and growth for the foreseeable future. It is unknown when travel restrictions and various border closures will be lifted and what the demand for expedition travel will be once these restrictions are no longer in place. The estimates for monthly cash usage reflect our current forecast for operating costs, capital expenditures and expected debt and interest payments. Based on current liquidity, the actions taken to date and our current forecast, which assumes rescheduled operations starting in June 2021 and a ramp up in operations throughout 2021, we believe that our liquidity should be adequate to meet our obligations for the next 12 months from March 12, 2021, the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. 

 

Return to Operations

 

We already have a robust set of operating protocols and, in preparation for the resumption of operations, have been continuously and proactively working in close cooperation with various medical policy experts and public health authorities to ensure our procedures and protocols for health and safety onboard our vessels are up-to-date with the latest medical guidelines to mitigate the potential impacts of the COVID-19 virus. These protocols encompass, but are not limited to, medical care, screening, testing, social distancing, personal protective equipment, and sanitization during all aspects of an expedition.

 

While it is uncertain when we will return to operations, we believe there are a variety of strategic advantages that should enable us to deploy our ships safely and quickly once travel restrictions have been lifted. The most notable is the size of our owned and operated vessels which range from 48 to 148 passengers, allowing for a highly controlled environment that includes stringent cleaning protocols. The small nature of our ships should also allow us to efficiently and effectively test our guests and crew prior to boarding. On average, we estimate it will only take a few thousand tests a month to ensure all guests and crew across our entire fleet have been tested. Additionally, the majority of our expeditions take place in remote locations where human interactions are limited, so there is less opportunity for external influence. We also have the ability to be flexible with regards to existing itineraries and are actively investigating additional itinerary opportunities both internationally and domestically. Lastly, our guests are explorers by nature, eager to travel and have historically been very resilient following periods of uncertainty. 

 

Financial Presentation

 

The discussion and analysis of our results of operations and financial condition are organized as follows:

 

 

a description of certain line items and operational and financial metrics we utilize to assist us in managing our business;

 

 

 

 

a comparable discussion of our consolidated and segment results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018;

 

 

 

 

a discussion of our liquidity and capital resources, including future capital and contractual commitments and potential funding sources; and

 

 

 

 

a review of our critical accounting policies.

 

Description of Certain Line Items

 

Tour revenues

 

Tour revenues consist of the following:

 

 

Guest ticket revenues recognized from the sale of guest tickets; and

 

 

 

 

Other tour revenues from the sale of pre- or post-expedition excursions, hotel accommodations and land-based expeditions; air transportation to and from the ships, goods and services rendered onboard that are not included in guest ticket prices, trip insurance and cancellation fees.

 

Cost of tours

 

Cost of tours includes the following:

 

 

Direct costs associated with revenues, including cost of pre- or post-expedition excursions, hotel accommodations and land-based expeditions, air and other transportation expenses and cost of goods and services rendered onboard;

 

 

 

 

Payroll costs and related expenses for shipboard and expedition personnel;

 

 

 

 

Food costs for guests and crew, including complimentary food and beverage amenities for guests;

37

 

 

 

 

 

Fuel costs and related costs of delivery, storage and safe disposal of waste; and

 

 

 

 

Other tour expenses, such as land costs, port costs, repairs and maintenance, equipment expense, drydock, ship insurance and charter hire costs.

 

Selling and marketing

 

Selling and marketing expenses include commissions, royalties and a broad range of advertising and promotional expenses.

 

General and administrative

 

General and administrative expenses include the cost of shoreside vessel support and other administrative functions, including salaries and related benefits, credit card commissions, professional fees and rent.

 

Operational and Financial Metrics

 

We use a variety of operational and financial metrics, including non-GAAP financial measures, such as Adjusted EBITDA, Net Yield, Occupancy and Net Cruise Cost, to enable us to analyze our performance and financial condition. We utilize these financial measures to manage our business on a day-to-day basis and believe that they are the most relevant measures of performance. Some of these measures are commonly used in the cruise and tourism industry to evaluate performance. We believe these non-GAAP measures provide expanded insight to assess revenue and cost performance, in addition to the standard GAAP-based financial measures. There are no specific rules or regulations for determining non-GAAP measures, and as such, our non-GAAP financial measures may not be comparable to measures used by other companies within the industry.

 

The presentation of non-GAAP financial information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP. You should read this discussion and analysis of our results of operations and financial condition together with the consolidated financial statements and the related notes thereto also included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Adjusted EBITDA is net income (loss) excluding depreciation and amortization, net interest expense, other income (expense), income tax (expense) benefit, (gain) loss on foreign currency, (gain) loss on transfer of assets, reorganization costs, and other supplemental adjustments. Other supplemental adjustments include certain non-operating items such as stock-based compensation, executive severance costs, the National Geographic fee amortization, debt refinancing costs, acquisition-related expenses and other non-recurring charges. We believe Adjusted EBITDA, when considered along with other performance measures, is a useful measure as it reflects certain operating drivers of the business, such as sales growth, operating costs, selling and administrative expense, and other operating income and expense. We believe Adjusted EBITDA helps provide a more complete understanding of the underlying operating results and trends and an enhanced overall understanding of our financial performance and prospects for the future. Adjusted EBITDA is not intended to be a measure of liquidity or cash flows from operations or a measure comparable to net income as it does not take into account certain requirements, such as unearned passenger revenues, capital expenditures and related depreciation, principal and interest payments, and tax payments. Our use of Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to other companies within the industry.

 

The following metrics apply to our Lindblad segment:

 

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost represents Net Cruise Cost adjusted for Non-GAAP other supplemental adjustments which include certain non-operating items such as stock-based compensation, the National Geographic fee amortization and acquisition-related expenses.

 

Available Guest Nights is a measurement of capacity and represents double occupancy per cabin (except single occupancy for a single capacity cabin) multiplied by the number of cruise days for the period. We also record the number of guest nights available on our limited land programs in this definition.

 

Gross Cruise Cost represents the sum of cost of tours plus selling and marketing expenses, and general and administrative expenses.

 

Gross Yield per Available Guest Night represents tour revenues divided by Available Guest Nights.

 

Guest Nights Sold represents the number of guests carried for the period multiplied by the number of nights sailed within the period.

 

38

 

Maximum Guests is a measure of capacity and represents the maximum number of guests in a period and is based on double occupancy per cabin (except single occupancy for a single capacity cabin).

 

Net Cruise Cost represents Gross Cruise Cost excluding commissions and certain other direct costs of guest ticket revenues and other tour revenues.

 

Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel represents Net Cruise Cost excluding fuel costs.

 

Net Yield represents tour revenues less commissions and direct costs of other tour revenues.

 

Net Yield per Available Guest Night represents Net Yield divided by Available Guest Nights.

 

Number of Guests represents the number of guests that travel with us in a period.

 

Occupancy is calculated by dividing Guest Nights Sold by Available Guest Nights.

 

Voyages represent the number of ship expeditions completed during the period.

 

Foreign Currency Translation

 

The U.S. dollar is the functional currency in our foreign operations and re-measurement adjustments and gains or losses resulting from foreign currency transactions are recorded as foreign exchange gains or losses in the consolidated statements of operations.

 

Seasonality

 

Lindblad segment tour revenues from the sale of guest tickets are mildly seasonal, historically larger in the first and third quarters. The seasonality of our operating results increases due to our vessels being taken out of service for scheduled maintenance or drydocking, which is typically during non-peak demand periods, in the second and fourth quarters. Our drydock schedules are subject to cost and timing differences from year-to-year due to the availability of shipyards for certain work, drydock locations based on ship itineraries, operating conditions experienced especially in the polar regions, and the applicable regulations of class societies in the maritime industry, which require more extensive reviews periodically. Drydocking impacts operating results by reducing tour revenues and increasing cost of tours. Natural Habitat is a seasonal business, with the majority of its tour revenue earned in the third and fourth quarters from its summer season departures and polar bear tours.

 

Results of Operations – Consolidated

 

We reported consolidated tour revenues, cost of tours, operating expenses, operating income and net income for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 as shown in the following table:

 

   

For the years ended December 31,

         

(In thousands)

 

2020

   

2019

   

Change

      %  

2018

   

Change

      %

Tour revenues

  $ 82,356     $ 343,091     $ (260,735 )     (76 %)   $ 309,734     $ 33,357       11 %
                                                         

Cost of tours

    72,931       166,608       (93,677 )     (56 %)     153,743       12,865       8 %

General and administrative

    45,508       62,744       (17,236 )     (27 %)     62,898       (154 )     (0 %)

Selling and marketing

    20,231       54,772       (34,541 )     (63 %)     46,987       7,785       17 %

Depreciation and amortization

    32,084       25,769       6,315       25 %     20,768       5,001       24 %

Operating (loss) income

  $ (88,398 )   $ 33,198     $ (121,596 )     NM     $ 25,338     $ 7,860       31 %

Net (loss) income

  $ (100,140 )   $ 18,748     $ (118,888 )     NM     $ 11,552     $ 7,196       62 %

Undistributed (loss) earnings per share available to stockholders:

                                                       

Basic

  $ (2.01 )   $ 0.29     $ (2.30 )           $ 0.25     $ 0.04          

Diluted

  $ (2.01 )   $ 0.28     $ (2.29 )           $ 0.24     $ 0.04          

 

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Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 - Consolidated

 

Tour Revenues

 

Tour revenues for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased $260.7 million, or 76%, to $82.4 million compared to $343.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. At the Lindblad segment, tour revenues decreased by $202.8 million, primarily related to cancelled, disrupted and rescheduled expeditions scheduled to depart after March 16, 2020 due to COVID-19. At the Natural Habitat segment, tour revenues decreased $57.9 million over the prior year period, primarily related to cancelled, disrupted and rescheduled trips due to COVID-19. 

 

Cost of Tours

 

Total cost of tours for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased $93.7 million, or 56%, to $72.9 million compared to $166.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. At the Lindblad segment, cost of tours decreased $62.4, primarily related to rescheduled expeditions due to COVID-19, partially offset by costs incurred while ships are laid up and from the addition of the National Geographic Endurance to our fleet in March 2020. At the Natural Habitat segment, cost of tours decreased $31.2, primarily due to cancelled, disrupted and rescheduled trips directly related to COVID-19.

 

General and Administrative Expenses

 

General and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased $17.2 million to $45.5 million compared to $62.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. At the Lindblad segment, general and administrative expenses decreased $10.6 million from the prior year primarily due to reduced personnel costs and credit card commissions related to the disruption of operations due to COVID-19. At the Natural Habitat segment, general and administrative expenses decreased $6.6 million primarily due to a decrease in personnel costs related to the disruption of operations due to COVID-19.

 

Selling and Marketing Expenses 

 

Selling and marketing expenses decreased $34.6 million, or 63%, to $20.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to $54.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. At the Lindblad segment, selling and marketing expenses decreased $30.9 million, primarily due to lower commission expenses related to the impact of COVID-19 on revenue and decreased advertising expenditures. At the Natural Habitat segment, selling and marketing expenses decreased $3.7 million, primarily driven by a decrease in advertising expenditures.

 

Depreciation and Amortization Expenses

 

Depreciation and amortization expenses increased $6.3 million, or 25%, to $32.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to $25.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to the addition of the National Geographic Endurance to the fleet in March 2020.

 

Other (Expense) Income

 

Other expenses were $21.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to $12.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. The $9.2 million increase was primarily due to the following factors:

 

 

A $4.8 million loss in foreign currency translation in 2020 due primarily to a loss of $5.3 million on the maturity of a foreign currency hedge related to the installment payment for the National Geographic Resolution, compared to a $0.1 million gain in 2019.

 

 

 

 

A $4.4 million increase in interest expense, net to $16.7 million in 2020, primarily due to increased borrowings related to our new vessel builds, the draw down under the revolving credit facility during the first quarter and an increase in rates under the term loan.

 

Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 - Consolidated

 

Tour Revenues

 

Tour revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 increased $33.4 million, or 11%, to $343.1 million compared to $309.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. At the Lindblad segment, tour revenues increased by $26.1 million driven primarily by an increase in Available Guest Nights during 2019 due to the addition of the National Geographic Venture to our fleet in the fourth quarter of 2018. At the Natural Habitat segment, tour revenues increased $7.3 million over the prior year period primarily due to additional departures, increased travelers and itinerary changes that drove higher average pricing. 

 

40

 

Cost of Tours

 

Total cost of tours for the year ended December 31, 2019 increased $12.9 million, or 8%, to $166.6 million compared to $153.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. At the Lindblad segment, cost of tours increased $10.5 million primarily due to incremental costs related to the National Geographic Venture and higher charter costs, partially offset by lower drydock expense. At the Natural Habitat segment, cost of tours increased $2.4 million due to additional departures.

 

General and Administrative Expenses

 

General and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2019 decreased $0.2 million to $62.7 million compared to $62.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. At the Lindblad segment, general and administrative expenses decreased $2.3 million from the prior year primarily as a result of lower value-added tax (“VAT”) expense, a decrease in stock-based compensation expense and the absence of debt refinancing costs incurred in 2018, partially offset by costs incurred related to the 2019 exchange of our previously outstanding warrants for our common stock, higher personnel costs and increased credit card fees associated with higher bookings. At the Natural Habitat segment, general and administrative expenses increased $2.1 million primarily due to increased personnel costs.

 

Selling and Marketing Expenses 

 

Selling and marketing expenses increased $7.8 million, or 17%, to $54.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $47.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, primarily due to a $6.6 million increase at the Lindblad segment driven by higher advertising spend, costs related to implementation of our new reservation and customer relationship management systems and increased commission expense associated with the higher tour revenues. At the Natural Habitat segment, selling and marketing expenses increased $1.2 million primarily driven by an increase in advertising expenditures and commission expense.

 

Depreciation and Amortization Expenses

 

Depreciation and amortization expenses increased $5.0 million, or 24%, to $25.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $20.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, primarily related to a full year of depreciation on the National Geographic Venture.

 

Other (Expense) Income

 

Other expenses were $12.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2019, compared to $13.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. The $0.9 million decrease was primarily due to the following factors:

 

 

In 2019, we recorded an $0.1 million gain in foreign currency translation compared to a loss of $2.2 million in 2018 due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar primarily in relation to the Canadian dollar, South African rand and the euro in the same period a year ago.

 

 

 

 

Interest expense, net, increased $1.5 million to $12.3 million in 2019 from $10.8 million in 2018 due to borrowings and the commitment fees under our senior secured credit agreements and related foreign exchange hedge expenses, partially offset by lower interest rates on our term loan facility and higher capitalized interest for the National Geographic Endurance and the National Geographic Resolution.

 

41

 

Results of Operations – Segments

 

Selected information for our segments is below. The presentation of non-GAAP financial information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP.

 

   

For the years ended December 31,

         

(In thousands)

 

2020

   

2019

   

Change

      %  

2018

   

Change

      %

Tour revenues:

                                                       

Lindblad

  $ 69,620     $ 272,410     $ (202,790 )     (74 %)   $ 246,334     $ 26,076       11 %

Natural Habitat

    12,736       70,681       (57,945 )     (82 %)   $ 63,400       7,281       11 %

Total tour revenues

  $ 82,356     $ 343,091     $ (260,735 )     (76 %)   $ 309,734     $ 33,357       11 %

Operating (loss) income:

                                                       

Lindblad

  $ (78,573 )   $ 26,203     $ (104,776 )     NM     $ 19,798     $ 6,405       32 %

Natural Habitat

    (9,825 )     6,995       (16,820 )     NM     $ 5,540       1,455       26 %

Total operating (loss) income

  $ (88,398 )   $ 33,198     $ (121,596 )     NM     $ 25,338     $ 7,860       31 %

Adjusted EBITDA:

                                                       

Lindblad

  $ (44,398 )   $ 57,971     $ (102,369 )     NM     $ 47,815     $ 10,156       21 %

Natural Habitat

    (7,774 )     8,648       (16,422 )     NM     $ 7,031       1,617       23 %

Total adjusted EBITDA

  $ (52,172 )   $ 66,619     $ (118,791 )     NM     $ 54,846     $ 11,773       21 %

 

Results of Operations – Lindblad Segment

 

Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019

 

Tour Revenues

 

Tour revenues for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased $202.8 million, or 74%, to $69.6 million compared to $272.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. The decrease was primarily driven by cancelled, disrupted and rescheduled expeditions due to COVID-19.

 

Operating Income

 

Operating income decreased $104.8 million to a loss of $78.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to income of $26.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. The decrease was primarily driven by lower revenue from cancelled, disrupted and rescheduled voyages due to COVID-19 and costs associated with adding the National Geographic Endurance to the fleet in March 2020. 

 

Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2019 and 2018

 

Tour Revenues

 

Tour revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 increased $26.1 million, or 11%, to $272.4 million compared to $246.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. The increase was driven by higher guest ticket revenue primarily from an increase in Available Guest Nights due to the addition to our fleet of the National Geographic Venture in the fourth quarter of 2018. Additionally, Net Yield per Available Guest Night for the year ended December 31, 2019 increased to $1,051 compared to $1,044 for the year ended December 31, 2018, primarily driven by price increases and changes in itineraries. Occupancy of 91% was in line with the prior year as increased demand filled the additional capacity from the National Geographic Venture.

 

Operating Income

 

Operating income increased $6.4 million to $26.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $19.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. The increase was primarily driven by a full year of operations of the National Geographic Venture, as well as lower VAT expense and a decline in stock-based compensation expense, partially offset by higher selling and marketing expenditures, increased personnel costs, higher credit card fees associated with revenue growth and costs related to the warrant exchange.

 

Results of Operations – Natural Habitat Segment

 

Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2019

 

Tour Revenues

 

Tour revenues decreased $57.9 million, or 82%, to $12.7 million compared to $70.7 million in 2019, due primarily to cancelled, disrupted and rescheduled expeditions due to COVID-19. 

 

42

 

Operating Income

 

Operating income decreased $16.8 million to a loss of $9.8 million in 2020 compared to income of $7.0 million in 2019. The decrease was primarily a result of cancelled, disrupted and rescheduled expeditions due to COVID-19.

 

Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2018

 

Tour Revenues

 

Tour revenues increased $7.3 million, or 11%, to $70.7 million compared to $63.4 million in 2018 primarily due to additional departures, increased travelers and itinerary changes that drove higher average pricing. 

 

Operating Income

 

Operating income increased $1.5 million, or 26%, to $7.0 million in 2019 compared to $5.5 million in 2018 primarily due to the growth in tour revenues, partially offset by higher operating costs related to the additional departures, as well as increased personnel expenses and marketing costs to support future growth initiatives.

 

Adjusted EBITDA – Consolidated

 

The following table outlines the reconciliation to Net income and calculation of consolidated Adjusted EBITDA. The presentation of non-GAAP financial information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP.

 

Reconciliation of Net Income to Adjusted EBITDA

Consolidated

 

For the years ended December 31,

 

(In thousands)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

 

Net (loss) income

  $ (100,140 )   $ 18,748     $ 11,552  

Interest expense, net

    16,692       12,288       10,830  

Income tax (benefit) expense

    (9,805 )     2,190       616  

Depreciation and amortization

    32,084       25,769       20,768  

Loss (gain) on foreign currency

    4,772       (94 )     2,175  

Other expense

    83       66       165  

Stock-based compensation

    2,388       3,573       4,405  

National Geographic fee amortization

    727       2,907       2,907  

Financing and warrant exchange costs

    891       970       997  

Reorganization costs

    -       90       360  

Other

    136       112       71  

Adjusted EBITDA

  $ (52,172 )   $ 66,619     $ 54,846  

 

The following tables outline the reconciliation for each segment from operating income to Adjusted EBITDA:

 

Reconciliation of Operating Income to Adjusted EBITDA

 

Lindblad Segment

 

For the years ended December 31,

 

(In thousands)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

 

Operating (loss) income

  $ (78,573 )   $ 26,203     $ 19,798  

Depreciation and amortization

    30,033       24,116       19,277  

Stock-based compensation

    2,388       3,573       4,405  

National Geographic fee amortization

    727       2,907       2,907  

Financing and warrant exchange costs

    891       970       997  

Reorganization costs

    -       90       360  

Other

    136       112       71  

Adjusted EBITDA

  $ (44,398 )   $ 57,971     $ 47,815  

 

43

 

Natural Habitat Segment

 

For the years ended December 31,

 

(In thousands)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

 

Operating (loss) income

  $ (9,825 )   $ 6,995     $ 5,540  

Depreciation and amortization

    2,051       1,653       1,491  

Adjusted EBITDA

  $ (7,774 )   $ 8,648     $ 7,031  

 

Guest Metrics — Lindblad Segment

 

The following tables set forth our Guest Metrics for the Lindblad segment. Please refer to our Description of Certain Line Items above for the specific definition by line item and segment. The presentation of non-GAAP financial information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP.

 

   

For the years ended December 31,

 
   

2020

   

2019

   

2018

 

Available Guest Nights

    51,624       221,516       200,849  

Guest Nights Sold

    46,050       201,600       182,298  

Occupancy

    89 %     91 %     91 %

Maximum Guests

    6,512       27,831       25,449  

Number of Guests

    5,564       25,326       23,102  

Voyages

    85       351       330  

 

 

Calculation of Gross Yield per Available Guest Night and Net Yield per Available Guest Night

 

For the years ended December 31,

 

(In thousands, except for Available Guest Nights, Gross and Net Yield per Available Guest Night)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

 

Guest ticket revenues

  $ 60,351     $ 244,207     $ 220,841  

Other tour revenue

    9,269       28,203       25,493  

Tour Revenues

    69,620       272,410       246,334  

Less: Commissions

    (8,146 )     (20,770 )     (19,521 )

Less: Other tour expenses

    (7,373 )     (18,813 )     (17,106 )

Net Yield

  $ 54,101     $ 232,827     $ 209,707  

Available Guest Nights

    51,624       221,516       200,849  

Gross Yield per Available Guest Night

  $ 1,349     $ 1,230     $ 1,226  

Net Yield per Available Guest Night

    1,048       1,051       1,044  

 

The following table reconciles operating income to our Net Yield Guest Metric for the Lindblad Segment. 

 

   

For the years ended December 31,

 

(In thousands)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

 

Operating (loss) income

  $ (78,573 )   $ 26,203     $ 19,798  

Cost of tours

    62,905       125,343       114,841  

General and administrative

    37,177       47,793       50,093  

Selling and marketing

    18,078       48,955       42,325  

Depreciation and amortization

    30,033       24,116       19,277  

Less: Commissions

    (8,146 )     (20,770 )     (19,521 )

Less: Other tour expenses

    (7,373 )     (18,813 )     (17,106 )

Net Yield

  $ 54,101     $ 232,827     $ 209,707  

 

44

 

Calculation of Gross Cruise Cost and Net Cruise Cost

 

For the years ended December 31,

 

(In thousands, except for Available Guest Nights, Gross and Net Cruise Cost per Avail. Guest Night)

 

2020

   

2019

   

2018

 

Cost of tours

  $ 62,905     $ 125,343     $ 114,841  

Plus: Selling and marketing

    18,078       48,955       42,325  

Plus: General and administrative

    37,177       47,793       50,093  

Gross Cruise Cost

    118,160       222,091       207,259  

Less: Commissions

    (8,146 )     (20,770 )     (19,521 )

Less: Other tour expenses

    (7,373 )     (18,813 )     (17,106 )

Net Cruise Cost

    102,641       182,508       170,632  

Less: Fuel Expense

    (4,694 )     (10,227 )     (9,228 )

Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel

    97,947       172,281       161,404  

Non-GAAP Adjustments:

                       

Stock-based compensation

    (2,388 )     (3,573 )     (4,405 )

National Geographic fee amortization

    (727 )     (2,907 )     (2,907 )

Debt refinancing and warrant exchange costs

    (891 )     (970 )     (997 )

Reorganization costs

    -       (90 )     (360 )

Other

    (136 )     (112 )     (71 )

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel

  $ 93,805     $ 164,629     $ 152,664  

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost

  $ 98,499     $ 174,856     $ 161,892  

Available Guest Nights

    51,624       221,516       200,849  

Gross Cruise Cost per Available Guest Night

  $ 2,289     $ 1,003     $ 1,032  

Net Cruise Cost per Available Guest Night

    1,988       824       850  

Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Available Guest Night

    1,897       778       804  

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Available Guest Night

    1,817