The Queen Mary lost nearly $950,000 during the first three months of 1994, bringing the debt of the ship's management group to about $3 million.
But officials of RMS Foundation Inc., which runs the ship, said the loss was about 30% less than expected in a period when attendance at tourist attractions is usually at its lowest. The ship historically generates about 80% of its profits during the summer, they said.
The head of the group, Joseph F. Prevratil, said Tuesday that he has secured a letter of credit that will allow RMS to borrow the money it needs to pay most of the $3 million owed to creditors and to sustain the ship's operations until the profitable summer months.
Prevratil said he would not discuss details of the loan until next week.
In 1993, the foundation lost $4.2 million but showed a profit of $33,420 in December. Officials attributed much of the 1993 loss to start-up costs.
RMS spent $3 million to reopen and refurbish the city landmark after the former operators, the Walt Disney Co., left in 1992. RMS, a nonprofit management group, took over the ship in February, 1993, and began full tourism and hotel operations in June.
"It's been a rough first year," Prevratil said. "But we're anticipating a surplus by the end of the summer season."
The Queen Mary employs 550 people and will add 200 this summer. In the last three months, about 68,000 people visited the attraction, bringing in about $3.4 million in revenue. RMS paid $63,500 in bed taxes and about $20,000 in rent to the city during the period.
The 340-room hotel has a 35% occupancy rate, Prevratil said. It needs a 50% occupancy rate to break even.