What happened

Easy come, easy go.

For two days running, cruise stock investors enjoyed smooth sailing as shares of Carnival Corporation (CCL 0.67%) (CUK 0.74%), Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH -0.88%), and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL -0.66%) grew on the back of positive analyst commentary from Australian banker Macquarie Group -- and positive COVID-19 vaccine news as well.

On Thursday, however, the cruise industry got swamped by the sea of red ink washing over the S&P 500. With the broad-market index down 1.7%, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean stocks are falling 6.4%, 3.8%, and 5.1% respectively.

Collage showing a cruise ship, a man in a face mask and a microbe

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

So who upset the cruise lines' apple cart today? You can't blame Wall Street analysts for this one. Not a single analyst so much as said "boo" against the cruise stocks today.  

It's possible that Carnival's announcement of an extended "pause" in cruising out of Southampton, United Kingdom, is spooking investors. As Carnival just announced, it is responding to a new U.K. government "roadmap to ease lockdown and related international travel restrictions." Consistent with that roadmap, Princess will cancel voyages aboard its Princess Cruises vessels Sky Princess, Regal Princess, and Island Princess through Sept. 25.

Now what

Suffice it to say that Sept. 25 probably feels like a long time to have to wait, seeing as in the U.S., the cruise companies have all been telling us they will probably be cruising again in June. If vacationers (and investors) are disappointed by the U.K. news, that's understandable. (Indeed, Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz says she "share[s] in our guests' disappointment.")

But there may be even more disappointment coming.

Consider: The U.K. is apparently recommending against cruising for six more months despite the fact that nearly 32% of U.K. citizens have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. In the U.S., the corresponding number is just 24%. That means that we're even farther behind our cousins in the vaccination race.  

And if they're not cruising until September, chances are we won't be, either.