What happened

Cruise ship stocks jumped on Monday, following a stronger-than-expected jobs report on Friday. Investors are growing more optimistic that the economy could recover more quickly than many economists originally feared. That could be a boon for the major cruise ship operators, which tend to benefit when people have more money to spend on vacations.

As of 12:35 p.m. EDT, shares of Carnival (NYSE:CCL), Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE:NCLH), and Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) were up 12%, 11%, and 4%, respectively.

So what

Last week, economists were bracing for one of the worst job reports in history. Consensus estimates were for the unemployment rate to surge to nearly 20%, driven by a staggering 8 million job losses. 

However, the actual figures were far better than feared.

The Labor Department reported that 2.5 million more people were able to obtain work in May. That helped to reduce the unemployment rate from 14.7% to 13.3%.

A cruise ship sailing with the sun in the sky behind it.

Cruise ship stocks continued their ascent on Monday. Image source: Getty Images.

Although coronavirus-related misclassifications could have made the job report appear stronger than it was, the better-than-expected figures suggest that we may be past the peak of job losses. This, in turn, has fueled a rally in the financial markets, and travel-related stocks -- many of which saw their share prices pummeled during the coronavirus-driven downturn -- have been some of the biggest winners in recent days.

Now what

A rapid economic recovery could certainly help cruise ship companies. The more confident people are in their job prospects, the more likely they'll be to book vacations.

However, investors should recognize that the novel coronavirus remains a fearsome threat. With the economy reopening, the number of COVID-19 cases is sure to rise. If the number of infections grows rapidly, it could make people hesitant to book cruise trips, particularly since these ships -- with their cramped living quarters and limited medical facilities -- are prone to coronavirus outbreaks.

Thus, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings remain high-risk stocks despite their recent gains.

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.