Travel company Cruise Planners, a privately held franchise network, told TMZ over the weekend that bookings on Carnival Corp's (NYSE:CCL) cruise ships catapulted by 600% after the company announced it will resume sailing on Aug. 1. Additionally, the company notes bookings are 200% higher than during the same period in 2019, with people apparently hankering more strongly for ocean views after COVID-19 than before. The report did not mention specific numbers, however.
Dubbed "floating petri dishes" by some, cruise ships featured prominently in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the risk of infection high among crowded ships, it's possible that structural changes to the entire cruise industry could reveal the market to be oversupplied with cruise lines and vessels in a post-pandemic world.
However, Carnival's bookings may give the beleaguered industry some reason for optimism. According to Cruise Planners, many of the bookings come from young people, who might expect to suffer much less serious effects in most cases even if they caught COVID-19. Such individuals are "not a bit concerned about traveling at this time," the travel company says. Bookings are also available at very affordable rates, as low as $28 per night for some options.
While Carnival was down in premarket trading this morning and is continuing to decline slowly after market opening, the news won over at least one analyst. HSBC said today in research note that "given the recent positive peer data on booking trends (albeit early days and small numbers)" it believes "these factors could improve their booking and customer deposit outlook." Consequently, it upgraded Carnival stock from hold to buy.