What happened

For the second day in a row, shares of cruise line operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH 2.76%) are heading north, while the rest of the market moves south. Shares were up more than 5% earlier in the day and still up 3.6% as of 12:25 p.m. EDT -- and probably for the same reason Norwegian shares defied the market downturn Thursday.

Good news in the cruise sector.

Cruise ship at sea.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

As my fellow Fool Joe Tenebruso noted yesterday, Norwegian rival Carnival Corporation (CCL 2.37%) plans to resume cruising at its Costa Cruises subsidiary on Sunday, sailing out of Italian ports.

Only a few ships will resume cruising initially, "in a gradual, phased-in manner," and only at a single subsidiary of a single cruise line -- which isn't even named "Norwegian." But still, it's a start.  

Now what

In a market starved for good news, investors in the cruise line industry seem happy to take Carnival's announcement and extrapolate it to assume better news will be coming for the company and for its competitors, such as Norwegian, in the weeks and months to come. (And indeed, Carnival subsidiary AIDA Cruises is also expected to resume cruising in early November.)  

Fewer ships operating at "adjusted" (i.e., reduced) capacity won't return cruise lines to profitability anytime soon, however. For these stocks to keep going up, investors are going to have to think exceptionally "long term" and be prepared to wait -- potentially years -- to see profits turn positive again.