What happened

Over the weekend, it was two steps forward, one step back for cruise line stocks such as Carnival (NYSE:CCL) (NYSE:CUK), Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE:NCLH). You're seeing the effects of that this morning, as shares of all three surged in the early morning, only to fall back and give up most of their gains as the morning wore on.

At 11:05 a.m. EDT on Monday, shares of Norwegian Cruise were holding on to a 2% gain, and both Carnival and Royal Caribbean were up a bit more than 1%. But earlier today, it was looking like Carnival and Norwegian, at least, might surge past 5%, with Royal Caribbean not far behind.

Paper boat reads NEWS

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

On Friday, CruiseIndustryNews.com updated investors on the progress of restart plans at all three of the major cruise lines. Carnival was expected to resume cruising the Caribbean as early as July 1, and Norwegian just a bit later -- sailing the Eastern Mediterranean and the Caribbean by July 25.

Royal Caribbean, the news site said, already has one ship sailing out of Singapore, and five more on the way, with plans to expand operations in the Caribbean and Europe as well.  

On Sunday, the site added new detail, looking a bit further out and noting that according to published plans, Royal Caribbean would be the No. 2 cruise operator by total berths in service by the end of August, and Norwegian would be No. 4 with 9,000 berths.  

The bad news: An effort in the U.S. Senate to accelerate cruise lines' return to service -- the Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act, sponsored by Florida senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, two Republicans -- was derailed. Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, blocked the bill from immediate consideration, and sent it to committee for review. She said that while she was "eager as anyone else to see a return to travel, we cannot cut corners. Doing so risks lives and will only further delay returning to normal, hurting our economy more in the long run."    

Now what

All three major cruise lines still hope they'll be allowed to sail out of U.S. ports by sometime in July, and at least two companies expect to begin ramping up operations steadily through August. But Congress and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could still post roadblocks to these plans. Ever since late last year, it seems, cruise investors have been taking two steps forward, and one step back.

And I'm afraid this Monday is no different.

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.