With this closing, Apollo has become a 50 percent owner of NCL. Star Cruises, NCL's previous sole shareholder, is now a 50 percent owner as well.
According to a cruise line statement, the money and backing will enable the line to implement Freestyle 2.0, a series of fleetwide enhancements announced aboard Norwegian Gem just after its naming ceremony in New York last month. The investment will also help fund continued fleet expansion; two F3 prototypes will be built in France for over $1.1 billion per ship, the first of which will launch in 2009.
"With the Apollo investment," NCL President and CEO Colin Veitch is quoted as saying, "NCL is now in the strongest financial condition we have ever enjoyed in our 41-year history."
Apollo, which already owns Oceania Cruises, also agreed last year to acquire Regent. Meanwhile, another private equity firm, New York-based Court Square Capital Partners, has signed a letter of intent to buy the family-owned Grand Circle Travel; the actual sale is expected to take place in February.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor