Do you like playing the lottery? Do you like investing in cruise line stocks? But I repeat myself...

For every $1 a gambler "invests" in lottery tickets, studies show they can expect to get back about $0.44 in "winnings." That's a negative 56% return on investment -- but compared to what investors in Royal Caribbean (RCL 0.61%) have made on the cruise line stock in 2020, a lottery ticket may sound like a good deal.

A collage of a cruise ship sailing toward a person in a face mask with a pattern of microbes in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

Since COVID-19 torpedoed the economy, shares of Royal Caribbean stock have lost 56.25%. In other words, if you invested $10,000 in Royal Caribbean shares on Jan. 1 of this year, then by close of trading Tuesday, you lost $5,625.

Today, your investment is worth just $4,375.

Let's look at what investors stand to further lose (or gain) in the long-term. Perhaps Royal Caribbean could have acted faster and more effectively to protect its crews and passengers from exposure to the novel coronavirus when it first broke out earlier this year. The company is facing lawsuits from passengers and crew members alleging that it failed to protect them. Lawsuits are rarely good for business. 

But Royal Caribbean didn't cause this coronavirus mess. And by the time the dangers were apparent, and Royal Caribbean began working out practices and procedures to permit safe cruising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had already shut down the cruise industry, confining all cruise ships to port under a "no sail" ban.  

Until that ban is lifted, Royal Caribbean will be prevented from collecting revenue and unable to earn profits -- and will keep burning cash hand over fist. I fear Royal Caribbean's stock will remain underwater until it can set sail again.