Cruise lines are coming back and not a moment too soon for their legions of fans, or for cruise stocks for that matter.
After enduring their worst year ever in 2020, the world’s leading cruise ship operators are setting sail again this summer and carrying passengers to far-flung destinations the world over.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the cruise line industry hosted 30 million passengers a year and generated nearly $40 billion in annual revenues. Between 2010 and 2020, cruises were the fastest-growing segment of the global tourism industry.
Now, after being stuck in port for 15 months, the major cruise lines are looking to start generating revenues again and begin recovering. That means a recovery for beaten-down cruise stocks can’t be too far behind.
In this article, we look at five cruise stocks for investors to consider as the cruise line industry again meets the sun rise and resumes operations.
- Carnival Corp. (NYSE:CCL)
- Norwegian Cruise Line (NYSE:NCLH)
- Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL)
- Linblad Expeditions (NASDAQ:LIND)
- Disney Cruise Line (NYSE:DIS)
Cruise Stocks to Buy: Carnival Corp. (CCL)
Let’s start with the world’s largest cruise ship operator, Carnival Corp., which is taking to the seas again in a big way this summer, with plans to begin sailing again from U.S. ports during the Fourth of July long weekend.
In addition to sailing to popular sun destinations around the Caribbean, Carnival has announced that it will resume sailing to Alaska this summer as well.
The company formally announced its summer schedule after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidelines saying that cruise liners with at least 95% vaccinated passengers and crew do not need to wear masks or maintain physical distance in any areas of a ship. Removal of these restrictions has helped boost demand for cruises heading into summer.
That strong demand and resumption of service have helped to lift CCL stock out of the doldrums.
Year-to-date, Carnival’s share price has risen to its current level of $28.86 and now sits just below its 52-week high of $31.52 per share.
The consensus view of analysts who cover the cruise industry is for Carnival to post revenues of about $4 billion this year, rising to as much as $18 billion in 2022, which would bring the company’s sales back to pre-pandemic levels, as demand and aggressive ticket pricing kick into high gear.
Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH)
Another major American cruise line operator is Norwegian Cruise Lines. Norwegian has been in business since 1966 and is today the third largest cruise line operator in the world by passenger volume.
NCLH stock has risen this year along with the entire cruise line sector, up about 31.5% year-to-date at right around $31 a share. The company’s share price jumped 5% on May 24 after it was announced that Norwegian will begin sailing from Seattle to Alaska on August 7.
Norwegian Cruise Lines has also said that it plans to have 23 of its 28 ships cruising again this fall and leading into next year (2022). Investors applauded the news.
Analysts expect the company to post revenues this year on par with the $6.5 billion reported in 2019 before the pandemic forced it to halt operations. Shareholders have grumbled about Norwegian diluting its stock by issuing significantly more shares over the past year to raise cash.
The number of shares outstanding is now at 370 million, up from 213 million at the start of 2020. But the stock price appreciation in recent months should help to mend those hurt feelings.
Cruise Stocks to Buy Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)
The second biggest cruise line operator in the world, Royal Caribbean operates three distinct cruise line businesses, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises.
The cumulative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Royal Caribbean was devastating. The company’s debt swelled to $20 billion last year and its revenue cratered more than 90%, falling from $11 billion a year before the health crisis.
Fortunately, the company was able to rebook most customers for cruises in the second half of this year and into 2022 rather than provide refunds.
Still, the pandemic took a toll on RCL stock, which fell 83% in the spring of 2020. After cresting at $135.05 a share, the stock plummeted all the way down to $23.81 once Covid-19 left cruise ships docked. It trades at around $87 today.
Royal Caribbean’s share price has recovered this year as the company has begun cruising again. Already, the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship is back on the high seas.
Royal Caribbean was given a scare when two passengers aboard that Celebrity cruise ship tested positive for Covid-19. Luckily, the passengers were asymptomatic and Royal Caribbean was able to safely fly them home via a private plane.
Linblad Expeditions (LIND)
For people who aren’t keen on shuffleboard, there’s Lindblad Expeditions, a specialty cruise operator headquartered in New York City that runs adventure trips featuring up-close encounters with wildlife, nature, history and different cultures.
The company is much smaller than the other cruise line operators on this list with only six ships owned outright and five charter vessels. Still, its cruises are popular with adventure-minded travelers who sail to remote destinations such as Antarctica and the Galapagos islands with Linblad Expeditions.
The company has announced a renewal of its partnership with National Geographic and plans to send two ships to Alaska this summer as part of a National Geographic-branded “Wild Escape” adventure trip.
The resumption of service has helped lift LIND stock this year. However, owing to its smaller size and market share, the company’s share price has not risen as much as the big three cruise lines.
Year-to-date, Linblad Expeditions stock is up 10% to nearly $17 a share. Further growth should come as booking increase in this year’s second half.
There’s a lot more to Walt Disney than cartoons and theme parks. The company is also a leading cruise line operator. Its heavily branded Disney-themed cruise ships have proven extremely popular.
This year, the House of Mouse announced that it is adding a fifth cruise ship called the “Disney Wish” to its fleet to accommodate growing demand. And the Disney cruise ships aren’t all Donald Duck kitsch. Suites aboard Disney cruisers come with a children’s playroom, library, up to five bathrooms, and a built-in spa complete with a rain shower.
Disney Cruise Lines accounted for $1.6 billion, or just over 2%, of the company’s $70 billion in revenues earned in fiscal 2019 before the pandemic.
While that might seem like a small fraction of Disney’s overall business, the cruise line is growing in popularity. Disney has announced plans to add two more ships to its fleet in 2024 and 2025 respectively as it projects continued growth in its cruise line segment.
Buoyed by its popular Disney+ streaming service, Disney weathered the pandemic just fine, even while its cruise ships were anchored in port.
Year-to-date, DIS stock is down a little more than 1% at $175 a share. However, the slump comes after the company’s shares rallied 51% over the past year.
Disclosure: On the date of publication, Joel Baglole held a long position in DIS. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.