The stock value of cruise ship company Carnival Corporation (CCL 0.43%) ran aground on the economic reefs of COVID-19 today after the company released a preliminary summary of the results of its third quarter ended Aug. 31. News of an almost $3 billion loss during Q3 sent investors scrambling for the lifeboats, dropping share prices more than 9% by mid-afternoon.

The Form 8-K Current Report to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) says Carnival's preliminary estimate under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is a $2.9 billion net loss for Q3, or an adjusted net loss of $1.7 billion. The cruise line has $8.2 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of Aug. 31.

A large modern ship during a storm, with three strokes of lightning in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

Carnival stressed the restart of limited cruises by some brands, saying Costa Cruises managed a "successful" cruise among five Italian ports, while noting both Costa and AIDA Cruises will start "gradual, phased-in" voyages during autumn 2020. CEO Arnold Donald struck a hopeful note by saying Carnival's operational model "relies solely on leisure travel," arguing such travel "cannot be easily replaced with video conferencing and other means of technology."

Speaking about its 2021 bookings, the company said it has $2.4 billion in total customer deposits at Q3's end, while reporting bookings for the second half of 2021 are "at the higher end of the historical range." However, total customer deposits are down $500 million from May 31.

While Carnival's stock soared in August on COVID-19 vaccine hopes, the company issued no financial reports that month. According to The Guardian, Carnival has sold six ships for $940 million, and plans to sell 12 more. It also announced an offering of up to $1 billion worth of common stock today to boost its liquidity.