What happened

Cruise ship stocks surged on Wednesday after investors received exciting news about an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

By the close of trading, shares of Carnival (NYSE:CCL) (NYSE:CUK), Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NASDAQ:NCLH) were up 16%, 21%, and 20%, respectively.

So what

Surging COVID-19 case counts have weighed heavily on the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian have had their ships stuck at port for months, following a string of coronavirus-related outbreaks aboard their vessels. With little revenue coming in, they've been bleeding cash and forced to incur massive amounts of debt to stay afloat.

Two glasses of champagne on the railing of a cruise ship, with a view of the ocean.

Cruise ship investors finally received some welcome news. Image source: Getty Images.

However, late on Tuesday, Moderna announced promising vaccine trial news. The New England Journal of Medicine published an interim analysis of Moderna's phase 1 trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine. Neutralizing antibodies produced by the vaccine were found in all of the studies' participants. Scientists believe these antibodies could help prevent COVID-19. The vaccine candidate was also found to be generally safe and well-tolerated. 

Now what

Moderna's news gives investors hope that a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 could be available sooner than many people predicted. That would be a boon for the beleaguered cruise industry, which is desperate to resume sailing operations. If Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian can get their ships back at sea sooner than expected, their stocks could continue to trend higher.