What happened

After soaring on Monday, cruise ship stocks pulled back a bit on Tuesday. Shares of Carnival (NYSE:CCL), Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE:NCLH) fell 4.1%, 3.6%, and 3.5%, respectively.

So what

Following reassuring comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Sunday -- and exciting news from Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) on Monday morning regarding progress toward a potential COVID-19 vaccine -- cruise ship stocks surged on Monday. The gains came as investors grew more hopeful that the pandemic could come to an end sooner than expected, and that the related economic damage could be less than feared -- both of which, of course, would be great for the major cruise line operators.

A stock chart drawn on a chalkboard that rises and then falls, with a part of its upward move erased.

Cruise ship socks gave up some of their recent gains on Tuesday. Image source: Getty Images.

However, soon after Moderna released data from its phase 1 COVID-19 vaccine study, experts began to warn that, while encouraging, the information provided was not enough to begin to draw conclusions as to the effectiveness of Moderna's vaccine candidate. 

Moreover, sales results from several non-food retailers came in below expectations on Tuesday, suggesting that an economic recovery could be further away than many investors believe.

Now what 

As government officials begin to ease stay-at-home orders and states reopen their economies, we'll soon have more data as to how a broader swath of the population responds to the COVID-19 threat. This information will likely go a long way toward determining how investors will view cruise ship stocks in the coming days and weeks.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.