Despite good news from Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), a modest price-target hike for Carnival (NYSE:CCL) (NYSE:CUK), and positive public relations out of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE:NCLH), cruise line stocks slumped on Tuesday.
At the close today, shares of Royal Caribbean were down 3.2%, and those of Carnival and Norwegian were both off by 4.4%.
Norwegian announced that in honor of Global Volunteer Month, it's giving U.S. shoreside team members the option of taking a paid day off to perform volunteer work at a nonprofit community program of their choice. (With the whole cruise industry basically stuck in limbo, this isn't a huge sacrifice for Norwegian.)
Carnival's news was more optimistic, with TheFly.com reporting that Australian investment bank Macquarie has awarded a $1 price target hike to $32 on Carnival shares. Despite a 2021 cruise recovery that looks increasingly far off, Macquarie sees glimmers of a strong cruise market in 2022. On the downside, it warns that Caribbean cruises out of the U.S. may not start until August or September. In the context of cruise lines still hoping for a July 4 restart, that actually sounds like bad news -- and may be one reason cruise stocks aren't reacting positively to the industry's other good news.
Which brings us to the most positive development of all: Citing ongoing "constructive dialogue" with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CruiseIndustryNews.com quoted Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain yesterday as saying that he is optimistic that the CDC will soon grant the cruise industry permission to resume sailing out of U.S. ports.
While the CDC still has the final say over precisely when cruising will resume, Fain reiterated that the agency has told him it might be by mid-July, and asserted once more that the science would support such a decision.
And even if that's not quite the same as the July 4 date cruise lines are hoping for -- suggesting continued hesitancy at the CDC to permit cruising to resume sooner rather than later -- the sooner a final decision is made, the better it will be for cruise stocks.