What happened

Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE:NCLH) were up 37.5% in November, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The waters were choppy during the month -- the company received a mix of good and bad news. However, investors were optimistic with the developments in November, leading to the stock's market-beating gains.

So what

First the bad news: On Nov. 9, Norwegian announced third-quarter "earnings." It's probably more accurate to say it reported third-quarter losses. With cruises cancelled, the company had almost zero revenue, resulting in a $677 million loss. Analysts obviously expected losses, but it was even worse than feared. Shortly thereafter, the company issued new shares to address liquidity concerns, sending the stock lower.

A hand plots an arrow higher on a graph.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now the good news from November: Pharmaceutical companies have announced effective phase 3 coronavirus vaccines. Cruise ships are seen as particularly vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus, and that's why Norwegian and others have been docked. Mass immunization could pave the way to smooth sailing. Indeed, some of Norwegian's recent booking data indicate people want to cruise; they just want to do it once they're sure it's safe.

Now what

Norwegian and other cruise stocks are attracting attention from investors as a way to "play" a return to normal. The thinking is, this stock can simply return to its pre-pandemic price per share as soon as ships are sailing again. However, this isn't the stock it once was, and a complete recovery may be already priced in, as Motley Fool contributor Billy Duberstein clearly explains.

That doesn't mean Norwegian can never be a good investment. Investors will simply need to look beyond the coronavirus, and ask how long it will take Norwegian to fully recover and start creating shareholder value in a post-pandemic world. It might be longer than you think.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.