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Cruise stocks: Taking to the high seas

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As the world adjusts to the pandemic, which stocks should we watch as things open back up?

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Can these companies help you find your perfect portfolio match in this crazy post-pandemic world?

7 Best Cruise Stocks to Buy Now

It's been smooth sailing for cruise stocks so far this year, thanks to tailwinds from strong travel demand.

Cruise ship at sea aerial view with dramatic clouds at sunset in the Andaman Sea, Phuket, Thailand

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Cruise stock investors stand to benefit immensely if shares return to their pre-pandemic levels.

Many cruise stocks have rewarded investors year to date thanks to booming travel demand. After gloomy performances during the pandemic, cruise stocks look poised to deliver gains for investors.

Battered comps from slow travel make it easier for cruise stocks to achieve triple-digit year-over-year revenue growth. And some cruise companies have already reported that type of growth.

Do Cruise Stocks Present an Opportunity?

Many cruise stocks still have not reached their pre-pandemic prices. Carnival Corp. & PLC (ticker: CCL ), one of the best cruise stocks to buy now, is well removed from its pre-pandemic per-share range of high $40s to low $50s.

John Engle, president of Almington Capital, indicates that cruise stocks can continue to ride the momentum from current trends. "In the short term, cruise stocks may enjoy some tailwinds thanks to upbeat expectations about the summer vacation season," Engle says. "After years of struggles in the face of a global pandemic and macroeconomic uncertainty, cruise operators have been bouncing back."

Cruise stock investors stand to benefit immensely if shares return to their pre-pandemic levels. Some of these cruise stocks distributed quarterly dividend payments leading up to 2020, hiking the dividend each year.

Meanwhile, the airline industry has experienced a strong recovery as well. Delta Air Lines Inc. ( DAL ) raised its full-year outlook and reinstated its dividend. American Airlines Group Inc. ( AAL ) has also flipped back to profitability and is experiencing strong top-line growth.

The success of airlines and cruises demonstrates that more people want to travel with restrictions lifted.

Cruise Stock Risks to Keep in Mind

Although cruise stocks have delivered strong year-to-date returns and have made significant progress, the travel sector carries some risk. Some stocks are riskier than others, but Engle says some risks specifically apply to cruise stocks.

"The biggest risk for cruise stocks is sustainable profitability," says Engle. "Many cruise operators are carrying an awful lot of debt, and it is not clear whether they will be able to service it over the long run. Thin profit margins and high debt should always be a cause for concern for investors looking at cyclical industries . Even a mild recession could be enough to devastate cruise operators' bottom lines."

Cruise stocks can continue their run as long as travel demand stays strong. However, any slowdowns can hurt cruise companies that carry significant debt. Cruise stock investors should carefully monitor travel demand to gauge the risk of their investments.

Investors seeking exposure to heightened travel demand may want to consider these seven top cruise stocks:

Carnival Corp. & PLC ( CCL )

Carnival shares have more than doubled year to date as more travelers return to cruises. The company reported $4.9 billion in revenue in the second quarter, more than doubling its growth year over year. It is also the highest quarterly revenue number the corporation has ever reported. Total customer deposits also reached an all-time high of $7.2 billion, eclipsing the previous record of $6 billion in May 2019.

Carnival also reported a better-than-expected net loss of $407 million. Previous guidance suggested a second-quarter net loss between $425 million and $525 million. In a press release, Carnival CEO Josh Weinstein expressed confidence in the company's ability to continue its progress.

"With bookings and customer deposits hitting all-time highs, we are clearly gaining momentum on an upward trajectory."

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ( RCL )

Royal Caribbean shares have also doubled year to date, and the company is almost back to profitability. The company reported $2.9 billion in revenue and a $47.9 million net loss (19 cents per share) in the first quarter. Full-year guidance calls for adjusted earnings per share in the range of $4.40 to $4.80 per share.

A return to profitability can mean a dividend isn't too far away. While management said there is no plan to declare or pay dividends in the near future, a return to payouts in 2024 or 2025 would be a welcome development for investors.

Prior to the pandemic, Royal Caribbean had been a reliable dividend growth stock since 2011. During that time span, the annual dividend jumped from $0.40 per share to $3.12 per share.

Royal Caribbean CEO Jason Liberty remains optimistic that the rising trend of cruises will hold its ground.

"Leisure travel continues to strengthen as consumer spend further shifts toward experiences," Liberty said in a May 4 press release. "Demand for our brands is outpacing broader travel due to a strong rebound and an attractive value proposition."

Raised guidance also indicates the confidence leadership has in the underlying business.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. ( NCLH )

NCLH stock hasn't doubled like the other cruise stocks, but it has still outperformed the market with a nearly 70% year-to-date gain. The company reported $1.8 billion in revenue for the quarter ended March 31, which represents 249% year-over-year growth. Its annual revenue as of March 31 was $6.1 billion, a 426.5% increase year over year. Norwegian had a quarterly net loss of $159.3 million, or 38 cents per share.

Norwegian met or exceeded guidance on all key metrics in the first quarter. The company believes it can achieve a full-year adjusted EPS of 75 cents, an increase from its prior estimate of 70 cents. The company is going through a CEO transition, with Frank Del Rio passing the helm to Harry Sommer at the end of June. In his last press release as CEO, Del Rio informed shareholders that the company is "solidly positioned for 2023 and beyond" and has completed its post-pandemic operational recovery.

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc. ( LIND )

Lindblad Expeditions is a smaller cruise stock, with a $558 million market cap that has rewarded shareholders with a 35.6% year-to-date return as of July 17. The company reported $143.4 million in revenue in the first quarter, representing a 167% revenue increase from Q1 2019 and a 111% revenue increase from Q1 2022.

The company has growing occupancy rates and reported a quarterly net income of $621,000. That is a significant improvement from last year's net loss of $41.7 million in Q1 2022.

Leadership remains confident in the booming demand for cruise travel, setting full-year tour revenue guidance at $550 million to $575 million and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA , at $70 million to $80 million. The company has also planned a $35 million stock repurchase program.

Agilysys Inc. ( AGYS )

Agilysys provides software for the hospitality industry, giving it some exposure to cruise lines. The company also serves other sectors, such as hotels, resorts, stadiums and higher education.

Agilysys reported 21.8% year-over-year revenue growth to a record $198 million in fiscal year 2023, which ended on March 31. The company also reported $14.6 million in net income, more than doubling its growth from FY 2022. A healthy 60% of the company's total revenue is recurring, which makes it more feasible for the company to maintain profit margins.

Agilysys hasn't soared like pure-play cruise stocks. In fact, the stock is down roughly 14.3% year to date as of July 17. However, AGYS shares are up more than 300% over the past five years.

OneSpaWorld Holdings Ltd. ( OSW )

OneSpaWorld Holdings provides spas, wellness and treatments on cruises and on land. Shares have jumped 28% year to date as the rising demand for cruise travel means more demand for OneSpaWorld's services.

The company reported $182.5 million in total revenues in Q1 2023. That's more than double the amount of revenue that the company generated in Q1 2022. Leonard Fluxman, OneSpaWorld's CEO, indicated back in May that second-quarter results were already looking promising.

"Our second quarter 2023 performance is off to a positive start, and we expect our favorable momentum to continue to build throughout the year," Fluxman said.

World Kinect Corp. ( WKC )

World Kinect Corp., formerly known as World Fuel Services Corp., is an energy, commodities and services company. The corporation sells more than 50 fuel products and has delivered over 18 billion gallons of fuel.

Cruise ships that need fuel to cover vast distances turn to companies like World Kinect. The return of travel helped the company generate about $59 billion in revenue in 2022.

Revenue growth decelerated in 2023, and the company also reported a 13% year-over-year decline in net income in the first quarter. Aviation and marine segments both experienced double-digit year-over-year gains in gross income, though.

Ira Birns, chief financial officer of World Kinect, emphasized the company's solid numbers in a Q1 press release: "Our balance sheet remains strong, providing significant liquidity to drive growth and continued investment in products and services that will further support our strategic priorities."

Should You Get On Board with Cruise Stocks?

Many cruise stocks have outpaced the stock market and rewarded investors in 2023. Significant travel growth has helped cruise lines hit revenue records and get closer to profitability. Many of these same stocks also offered dividends and reliably paid them for several years before the pandemic.

However, cruise stocks have their risks. The gains may become muted in future years as year-over-year comps become more challenging. Investors should also monitor how cruise lines cover their long-term debt and track whether the demand for travel remains this elevated.

5 of the Best Travel Stocks to Buy

Wayne Duggan June 14, 2023

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Tags: Norwegian Cruise Line , Royal Caribbean Cruises , Cruises , investing , money , Carnival Corp. , Travel , Airlines , Delta Airlines , American Airlines

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Cruise stocks rise after CDC says the industry can potentially resume full operations by mid-July

Cruise stocks rise after CDC says the industry can potentially resume full operations by mid-July

  • Cruise-ship stocks soared Thursday after the CDC said the industry could resume operations potentially by mid-summer.
  • The agency on Wednesday said it is "committed" to reopening the industry in July, Reuters reported.
  • Shares of Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival all traded higher during Thursday's session.

Cruise-ship stocks soared Thursday after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the cruise industry passenger operations could resume by mid-summer, in step with the broader economic reopening in the US and large swathes of the world.

Here are the intraday highs for major airline stocks on Thursday a.m. ET:

Norwegian Cruise Lines : up 6.61% to $32.24

Carnival Corp : up 4.66% to $29.09

Royal Caribbean Group : up 5.28% to $92.01

The agency on Wednesday said it is "committed" to the resume operations, USA Today first reported . The go-signal came after Alaska joined Florida's April 8 suit last week in a bid to overturn a decision made by the CDC that barred the industry from resuming operations after being halted for a year to stem the spread of the virus.

If a ship can attest 98% of its crew and 95% of its passengers are fully vaccinated, then it may skip simulated voyages and move directly to open water sailing, the agency told cruise-industry leaders in a letter viewed by USA Today .

"We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO's phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities," Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Maritime Unit for CDC's COVID-19 response within its Global Mitigation Task Force for COVID-19, said in the letter.

The agency added it will respond to applications for simulated voyages within five days, much faster than the initial anticipated 60 days.CDC also said it will adjust testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew who are fully vaccinated.

"We're really very pleased and very excited because it really does support the pathway that we think is achievable, practical, and safe," Richard Fain, CEO at Royal Caribbean, told CNBC Thursday. "So, yeah, we're feeling pretty good."

Separately, Norwegian Cruise, the smaller of the three lines, on Wednesday announced it will restart operations outside of the US later this year in parts of the Caribbean and Europe.

Cruise-ship companies were among the industries most impacted when the economy shut down during the pandemic, though they are among the biggest beneficiaries of what analysts are referring to as the re-opening trade .

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Cruise stocks rise after CDC says the industry can potentially resume full operations by mid-July

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  • 4 major cruise lines set to make waves in India by 2023 end

To tap into India’s domestic tourism potential, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean Cruise and Costa will bring their respective vessels in India for the winter season. India's cruise industry aims to increase the number of passengers from 0.2 million in 2016 to four million by 2041. Additionally, the sector's revenue is projected to grow from INR 712 crore in 2016 to INR 35,500 crore by 2041.

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  • Gagneet Kaur ,
  • ETTravelWorld
  • Updated On Jun 20, 2023 at 09:50 AM IST

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Cruise Tourism: A voyage of luxury, sustainability and economic growth in Goa

As the world eagerly anticipates the G20 Tourism Ministerial Meeting, the spotlight shines bright on the captivating realm of cruise tourism and the collective efforts of stakeholders, policymakers and communities arising out of it, said MoS for Tourism and Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Shripad Yesso Naik. The Tourism Working Group meeting commences tomorrow in Goa with a side event on Cruise Tourism.

India's cruise tourism can gain momentum with creation of separate dept for sector development: Raj Singh

India's cruise tourism can gain momentum with creation of separate dept for sector development: Raj Singh

In conversation with ETTravelWorld, Raj Singh, CEO & Founder of Antara Luxury River Cruises spoke about India's potential as a cruise tourism hub, the need for sustainable utilisation of waterways, importance of government support in infrastructure development and the presentation planned for the Tourism Working Group meeting in Goa. Read here for more details…

  • By Gagneet Kaur ,
  • Published On Jun 20, 2023 at 09:50 AM IST

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Cruise line companies are seeing a strong rebound after years of COVID-related setbacks, with passenger booking rates up industry-wide. Still, just one stock—Royal Caribbean Group—has outperformed the broader market in the last year.

Royal Caribbean shares are up about 42% in the last year, while the benchmark Russell 1000 Index is up just over 1%. All other cruise industry stocks have lost value in the past year, a sign there could still be room for further recovery.

Below, we look at the top cruise line stocks for 2023 based on best value, fastest growth, and best performance. The Russell 1000 benchmark figure above is as of May 29, while all other data throughout are as of May 23.

These are the cruise line stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-sales (P/S) ratio . For companies in early stages of development or industries suffering from major shocks, this can be substituted as a rough measure of a business's value. A business with higher sales could eventually produce more profit when it achieves (or returns to) profitability. The price-to-sales ratio shows how much you're paying for the stock for each dollar of sales generated.

Source: YCharts

  • Carnival Corp.:  Carnival operates the world’s largest fleet of cruise ships. The company also owns travel-related properties such as hotels and vacation destinations. Carnival shares have fallen 16% in the last year while revenues nearly tripled for the first quarter of the year as a result of surging demand post-pandemic.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.: Norwegian Cruise Line operates a fleet of passenger cruise ships. In addition, the company offers itineraries and theme cruises. Norwegian's revenue more than tripled for the first three months of the year as it ramped up cruise voyages again following COVID-19.
  • Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc.: Lindblad Expeditions owns and operates cruise ships and provides expedition cruising and travel services. The company offers both sea-based and land-based expeditions. Lindblad shares have plunged by 22% in the last year, making it among the worst-performing cruise line stocks that we looked at.

These are the cruise line stocks with the highest  year-over-year (YOY)  sales growth for the most recent quarter. Rising sales can help investors to identify companies that are able to grow revenue organically or through other means and to find growing companies that have not yet reached profitability.

In addition, accounting factors that may not reflect the overall strength of the business can significantly influence  earnings per share (EPS) . However, sales growth can also prove to be potentially misleading about the strength of a business—growing sales does not guarantee a company will eventually become profitable.

  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.: See company description above.
  • Carnival Corp.:  See company description above.
  • Royal Caribbean Group: Royal Caribbean Group, formerly known as Royal Caribbean Cruises, operates either directly or through joint ventures a fleet of 64 ships with a total capacity of 150,000 berths. Total revenue almost tripled in the most recent quarter, driven by rebounds in both passenger ticket sales and onboard revenue.

These are the cruise line stocks that had the highest returns or smallest declines in total return over the past 12 months out of the companies we looked at.

  • Royal Caribbean Group: See company description above.

Shareholder Perks: A little-known benefit of holding cruise line stocks is that they offer shareholder perks. For instance, investors who hold at least 100 Carnival shares are entitled to a $250 onboard credit for cruises that are 14 days or longer, a $100 credit for cruises between 7 and 13 days, and a $50 credit for sailings of six days or less. Similarly, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer comparable shareholder benefits. To claim these benefits, investors need to provide proof of ownership, such as a shareholder proxy card or a copy of a current brokerage statement.

Pent-Up Demand: Cruise line companies have seen a rebound in demand as customers book cruises they had put on hold during COVID-19. This positions operators in the sector to boost profits as fleets are back at total capacity with reduced COVID requirements. In March 2023, for example, Carnival Cruise Lines said it had reached record future bookings.

High Debt Load: Cruise line companies racked up substantial debt over the past several years to stay afloat during the pandemic. With inflation leading to higher fuel costs and rising interest rates , these elevated debt levels will become increasingly difficult to service, increasing the risk of the companies offering new shares to raise capital , thus diluting the stakes of current shareholders.

Future Pandemics: Cruise Line stocks sank during the pandemic, with the sector facing multiple challenges from bad publicity, no-sail orders, and a sluggish recovery. In the early stages of the health crisis, reports of major outbreaks spreading onboard put downward pressure on the group. Selling accelerated as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued and extended no-sail orders. Although forward bookings have bounced back, these challenges remind investors that future pandemics remain a risk for cruise line stocks.

The comments, opinions, and analyses expressed on Investopedia are for informational purposes online. Read our  warranty and liability disclaimer  for more info.

As of the date this article was written, the author does not own any of the above stocks.

The Maritime Executive. " Cruising’s Rebound Raises Hopes of Normalcy Going Forward ."

YCharts. " Financial Data ."

Carnival Corp. " CARNIVAL CORPORATION & PLC PROVIDES FIRST QUARTER 2023 BUSINESS UPDATE ."

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. " Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Reports First Quarter 2023 Financial Results ."

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. " Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022 ." Page 2.

Royal Caribbean Group. " ROYAL CARIBBEAN GROUP REPORTS FIRST QUARTER EARNINGS AND INCREASES FULL YEAR GUIDANCE ON STRONG REVENUE OUTLOOK ."

Cruise Radio. " Overview: Cruise Line Stock Benefits for Shareholders ."

Fox Business. " Carnival Cruise Lines has record future bookings, demand rebounds ."

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Look at the Stocks Leading the Market Now

Devastated at the height of the pandemic, cruise lines have become top performers.

A palm tree, with a cruise ship in the background.

By Jeff Sommer

Jeff Sommer is the author of Strategies , a weekly column on markets, finance and the economy.

Many top performers in the stock market for the first half of this year were exactly what you would expect, if you’ve been following the news.

Big tech companies were well represented at the front of the pack, led by Nvidia, which makes computer chips that power artificial intelligence programs. It was followed closely by Meta, the Facebook owner, which has been promoting its own A.I. prowess. Tesla, the electric vehicle champion, wasn’t far behind.

But what were cruise ships doing near the very pinnacle of the stock market listings?

At midyear, three of the big cruise companies — Carnival, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — were among the top 10 stocks in the S&P 500.

Consider that only three years ago, in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, all cruise lines suspended operations and that in the ensuing months, the shares of publicly traded cruise companies were devastated.

Now, with fears of contagion ebbing and pent-up demand for pleasure trips being unleashed, cruise lines have had a remarkable change of fortune.

Inconsistent Returns

Each of the cruise line stocks had astonishing gains for the first six months of the year, but they are still down significantly from the start of 2020.

Here are their returns, according to FactSet:

Carnival, up 134 percent for the first six months of 2023 but down 63 percent since the start of 2020.

Royal Caribbean Group, up 110 percent in the first half of 2023 but down 22 percent since 2020.

Norwegian Cruise Line, up 78 percent in the first half of 2023 but down 63 percent since 2020.

Returns like these might be puzzling if you were unaware of what happened on the planet in the last three years. But factor in the pandemic and the subsequent economic recovery, and the cruise line stock and bond performance tracks nicely.

It’s part of a larger pattern.

Just as cruise lines have begun to come into their own, a series of companies that prospered during the pandemic are laggards now. Peloton, Zoom and Etsy are trailing in this year’s stock market performance derby. And major pharmaceutical companies, like Moderna and Pfizer, whose shares took off when the firms were providing scarce and desperately needed vaccines against Covid-19, are among the poorest performers in the S&P 500.

The Pandemic

Briefly put, it wasn’t until December 2019 that the first reports of the emergence of a novel coronavirus began to emanate out of China — and in March 2020 that the World Health Organization declared that a pandemic was underway. In January, cruise lines began canceling port calls in China.

In January 2020, the Diamond Princess , a luxury ship owned by Carnival, began an ill-fated journey in Yokohama, Japan. More than 3,700 passengers and crew members were stranded on board for weeks, with little information about the pandemic.

But the virus spread relentlessly, and more than 700 people ultimately tested positive. In those early days of the pandemic, when people lacked natural immunity against the disease, and effective treatment and vaccines were not yet widely available, nine passengers died.

All major cruise lines suspended operations, as passengers canceled their bookings en masse. It became evident that a cruise ship wasn’t an ideal place to be in the middle of a pandemic.

In the stock market, cruise line shares plummeted as 2020 wore on. In that pandemic year, Carnival fell 57 percent, Royal Caribbean 44 percent, and Norwegian 56 percent. The companies had virtually no revenue and mounting debt, and their ability to remain going concerns was in doubt. They survived by taking on enormous debt loads and paying sky-high junk-bond yields, which were needed to attract investors.

The joyful atmosphere needed for a successful vacation at sea seemed unattainable.

An Incipient Recovery

It was only in 2022 that their finances — and share prices — stabilized, and only this year that they have begun to report sufficient earnings and cash flow to show signs of paring down their debt and returning to steady profit-making operations. In a conversation with stock analysts after reporting earnings in late June, Josh Weinstein, the chief executive of Carnival, said the company’s business volume was approaching 2019 levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic and, in some metrics, beginning to exceed it.

According to a transcript of the same session, David Bernstein, the company’s chief financial officer, said Carnival was pouring cash into debt reduction, “driving more than $8 billion in total debt reduction through 2026,” down from a $35 billion peak early in 2023.

These debt payments, combined with increased revenues, should enable the company to “approach investment grade” in its bond ratings in 2026, Mr. Bernstein said. Because of Carnival’s improving financial picture, the yields on the company’s debt have been declining and the price of its bonds, which move in the opposite direction, have risen.

The specifics of each company matter, of course. What the cruise lines have in common is that all have heightened safety procedures aimed at stemming the spread of any future outbreaks on board, commissioned new ships, taken measures to cut costs and embarked on fresh marketing campaigns. Wall Street analysts, including those at JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Jefferies, have given them high grades and helped to drive up their share prices.

Perhaps the magic of sea cruises is back. Certainly no one needs a recurrence of the dismal events of 2020.

In prepandemic times, I took a couple of lovely cruises. On one trip, three generations of my extended family were able to see the world together, while participating separately in age-appropriate recreation — on board, in the water and on land. So I’m personally pleased by the beginnings of a sea cruise renaissance, though not ready to sail again quite yet.

As an investor, I see the stock performance of the cruise lines this year less as a question of whether this is an opportune time to buy their shares and more as an affirmation of the ever-present need to diversify. What may seem safe today could easily become hazardous tomorrow.

Harry Markowitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who died last month, transformed modern investing with his teachings about how rigorous diversification can reduce risk. A decade ago, during a volatile stretch in the stock market, he told me that ordinary investors would be better off if they forgot about individual stocks and bought broad low-cost stock and bond index funds instead.

Allocate them in a proportion that makes you comfortable, and then devote yourself to more pleasant pursuits. Mr. Markowitz convinced me. As for pleasant pursuits, go with what delights you.

That could even be a sea cruise, if you find them fun and, at this stage, safe enough for a carefree voyage.

An earlier version of this article misstated when the World Health Organization declared a coronavirus pandemic. It was March 2020, not January 2020.

How we handle corrections

Jeff Sommer writes Strategies , a column on markets, finance and the economy. He also edits business news. Previously, he was a national editor. At Newsday, he was the foreign editor and a correspondent in Asia and Eastern Europe. More about Jeff Sommer

Cruise Lines Stocks List

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Related ETFs - A few ETFs which own one or more of the above listed Cruise Lines stocks.

Cruise lines stocks recent news.

A cruise line is a company that operates cruise ships and markets cruises on oceans or rivers to the public. Cruise lines are distinct from passenger lines which are primarily concerned with transportation of their passengers. Cruise lines have a dual character: they are partly in the transportation business, and partly in the leisure entertainment business; a duality that carries down into the ships themselves, which have both a crew headed by the ship's captain, and a hospitality staff headed by the equivalent of a hotel manager. Among cruise lines, some are direct descendants of the traditional passenger lines, while others were founded from the 1960s on specifically for cruising. The business has been extremely volatile; the ships are massive capital expenditures with very high operating costs, and a slight dip in bookings can easily put a company out of business. Cruise lines frequently sell, renovate, or simply rename their ships just to keep up with travel trends. A wave of failures and consolidations in the 1990s has led to many companies to be bought by much larger holding companies and to operate as "brands" within larger corporations, much as a large automobile company holding several makes of cars. Brands exist partly because of repeat customer loyalty, and also to offer different levels of quality and service. For instance, Carnival Corporation & plc owns both Carnival Cruise Line, whose former image were vessels that had a reputation as "party ships" for younger travellers, but have become large, modern, yet still profitable, and Holland America Line, whose ships cultivate an image of classic elegance. A common practice in the cruise industry in listing cruise ship transfers and orders is to list the smaller operating company, not the larger holding corporation, as the recipient cruise line of the sale, transfer, or new order. In other words, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. for example, are the cruise lines from this common industry practice point of view; whereas Carnival Corporation & plc and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., for example, can be considered holding corporations of cruise lines. This industry practice of using the brand, not the larger holding corporation, as the cruise line is also followed in the member cruise lines in Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the list of cruise lines, and the member-based reviews of cruise lines.

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