What happened

Cruise ship stocks fell on Monday, as concerns regarding escalating COVID-19 cases intensified. As of 11:35 a.m. EDT, shares of Carnival (NYSE:CCL) (NYSE:CUK), Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NASDAQ:NCLH), and Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) were down 6%, 6%, and 4%, respectively, after falling roughly 10% earlier in the day.

So what 

Twenty-two states reported higher coronavirus cases over the weekend. Many international areas are also struggling to contain the virus. Even countries such as China and Peru, which implemented strict lockdowns to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, are now dealing with new outbreaks.

Doctors are warning that another wave of virus infections could overwhelm medical facilities -- and that outbreaks could become uncontrollable if the correct safety measures aren't taken. In turn, government officials are threatening to slow reopening plans and reimpose stricter social distancing orders if people do not abide by coronavirus-related safety rules.  

Coronavirus virions surround a person wearing a face mask and a cruise ship.

Coronavirus fears drove cruise ship stocks lower on Monday. Image source: Getty Images.

None of this is good news for the cruise industry, which relies on people being willing and able to book vacations on ships that have been prone to COVID-19 outbreaks. 

Now what

Worsening coronavirus infections will make it less likely that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other international authorities will lift sailing restrictions on cruise ships any time soon. Until their vessels are able to set sail -- and enough passengers show that they're willing to board them -- Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line remain high-risk investments.