The cruise ship industry is getting a major haircut from an analyst at investment firm SunTrust Robinson, who says we may not have seen the bottom of Carnival (NYSE:CCL), Norwegian Cruise Line (NYSE:NCLH), and Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) shares.

Analyst C. Patrick Scholes lowered his price target on Carnival 27% from $51 to $37, on Royal Caribbean 38% from $164 to $102, and on Norwegian Cruise Line 32% from $66 to $45.

Lighthouse being hit by large wave

Image source: Getty Images.

That sinking feeling

That's a big reversal for an industry that was sailing higher on Monday as a result of brighter economic hopes, somewhat positive comments from the Federal Reserve chairman, and declining numbers of COVID-19 cases.

But Scholes sees trouble on the horizon for cruise ship operators. says that while the analyst is maintaining his ratings on Carnival, Royal, and Norwegian, he wrote in a note to clients that booking volume is decelerating rapidly, so where pricing had been stable for the industry, he believes that may be the "next shoe to drop."

Shares of the cruise ship companies have "taken a severe beating" due to the pandemic, with shares of Carnival plunging 72% in 2020, while Royal Caribbean is down 68% and Norwegian tumbled 78%, but the analyst says it's actually to early to say they've hit bottom. Investors may see their shares scuttled until the COVID-19 crisis is well behind us.

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.