What happened

Carnival Corporation (CCL -0.72%) is up 3.7% in 10:15 a.m. EDT trading -- and it's not the only one. Rival Royal Caribbean (RCL -0.32%) has already gained 3.8%, and smaller Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH -1.18%) is up 6.2%. Why?

In a nutshell, because it looks like President Trump is weighing in on the sail/no-sail debate -- and working to get ships back in the water and cruising again.

Cruise ship at sea

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

As reported on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com this morning (and confirmed by multiple other sources), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was set to extend the nationwide ban on cruise ships sailing out of American ports, due to expire today, into February 2021. The Trump administration, however, has instructed the CDC to extend the ban through only the end of next month.  

According to the reports, at least two unidentified members of the administration have confirmed that CDC Director Robert Redfield met with the Vice President Pence-led coronavirus task force this morning in the White House Situation Room, arguing for a resumption of sailing no sooner than February 2021. Pence overruled Redfield, however, and advised that the administration wants the no-sail order extended through no further than Oct. 31.

Now what

A couple of things need to be emphasized here. First, currently the CDC's website has not been updated to describe any extension of the no-sail order for any length. The current situation has the order expiring tonight, but cruise ships will not resume sailing immediately regardless, because they've already voluntarily extended their sailing suspension through Oct. 31.  

This gives the administration some time to finalize its date, and for the CDC to issue new guidance -- but we may not have to wait through the end of October to receive it. The reason: Cruise industry representatives are scheduled to visit the White House on Friday to meet with the coronavirus task force and discuss "whether the order needs to be extended" at all, reports news organization Axios.

So the CDC could potentially end up not extending the no-sail order at all, and simply allow it to expire naturally today, and to evaporate into thin air on Oct. 31. This means that cruise lines can resume operating at any date, at their own discretion. At that point, it will be the beginning of the end for the cruise industry's long recession.

It's this possibility more than any other, I suspect, that explains why cruise line stocks are going up across the board today.