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Best Cruise Line Stocks

Cruise line stocks

Last Updated: 11th November 2023 - 11:03 am

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The Indian government is aiming to increase cruise passenger traffic from 0.4 million at present to 4 million under its Maritime Vision Document 2030. The government has also taken several initiatives including infrastructure upgradation, rationalisation of port fees, removing ousting charges, granting priority berthing to cruise ships and providing e-visa facilities to boost cruise tourism in the country. All these initiatives will help cruise companies in India and their stocks.

What are cruise line stocks?

There is no company listed in India that deals only on cruise lines, but there are a few that have some kind of tie-ups or run some cruise lines, mostly river-based. These are mostly hospitality industry companies that we are going to concentrate on for their cruise line operations, direct and indirect both. These cruise line stocks mostly have tie-ups with foreign cruise liners for Indian clients and for their hotels abroad.

Overview of top cruise line stocks

EIH Ltd: EIH runs Oberoi and Trident hotels and is also a rare company from India to run a direct cruise liner—The Oberoi Zahra, Luxury Nile Cruiser. The stock has shown positive breakout beyond third resistance. It has also shown high EPS growth and its return on equity, or ROE, and RoCE have been improving for the last two years.

Indian Hotels: It is one of the oldest hotels companies of India, which among other properties owns and runs the Taj group of hotels. It offers a variety of cruises by its hotel in Kochi along the backwaters. It has also formed an alliance with Silversea Cruises of Italy. The company has low debt and the stock has returned high EPS growth. However, earnings have been under pressure for the past few quarters, leading to lower shareholding by mutual funds.

Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation: The state-owned ticket booking and tour company offers many cruise tours in India and abroad through various tie-ups. IRCTC had also tied up with Cordelia Cruises to launch India's first indigenous cruise liner. The stock has seen both its return on equity (RoE) and return on capital employed (RoCE) improving over the past two years, attracting increased interest from FIIs and FPIs.

Easy Trip Planners: Essentially an online ticket booking site and hotel aggregator, the company also offers various cruise trips on its website The company is also set to acquire a stake in Guideline Travels Holidays India, which has pioneered cruise ticket selling in India. The company has low debt but has seen decreased interest from investors. The stock price is also below short-, medium- and long-term averages due to weak financials.

Thomas Cook (India): The company offers one of the most extensive cruise holidays in India and abroad. The stock is near a 52-week high and is also above short-, medium- and long-term averages. The company has shown strong EPS growth and its RoE and ROA (return on assets) have been improving over the last two years. The stock has shown strong recovery from a 52-week low. 

Why invest in cruise line stocks?

The tourism sector has seen a renewed interest after the Covid-19 pandemic, with people trying out different destinations and looking for new experiences. India has a huge maritime coast and inland waterways, offering great opportunities in cruise line stocks. These companies can also tie up with global players to launch foreign tours.

Factors to consider before investing in cruise line stocks 

Geopolitical Risks: Geopolitical tensions, such as war between two countries, can take a toll on tourism and have a cascading impact on cruise line stocks, too.

Fuel Prices: As cruise ships rely heavily on fuel, consider the volatility of fuel prices and the company's strategies for mitigating these costs.

Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that the company complies with international and regional maritime regulations.

Brand Strength: Evaluate the strength of the company’s brand and its reputation in the market.

Industry Alliances: Consider any strategic partnerships or alliances that could strengthen the company’s market position.

Market Sentiment: Gauge the overall market sentiment and analyst opinions on the stock.

Financials: One should look carefully at the financials of such companies before investment.

Peer Comparison: Invest in a company that has some kind of leverage over its peers and has gained substantial market share.

Performance overview of cruise line stocks

Cruise line stocks can be a good investment option due to the industry’s potential for robust growth, especially as global tourism continues to expand.

When evaluating the best stocks in this sector, it’s important to look at companies that demonstrate innovative cruising experiences, modern fleets, and a strong global presence.

Also, as India has hardly any standalone fleet operator, the top cruise stocks are made up of mostly hotel or ticketing companies that have tie-ups with global players. This makes it imperative to look at the growth prospects of their main business before making any investment decision.

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Mostly hotel companies are investing in cruise line sector in India.

What is the future of cruise line stocks?  

With a boom in the tourism sector, cruise line stocks are set for a stellar growth, but fundamentals of each company must be analysed before investing.  

Is investing in cruise line stocks a good idea?  

Yes, it can be. But all investment decisions must be made after due diligence, both for the sector and the companies.

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First, zero in on the cruise line stocks that you want to invest in and the amount you want to invest in each of them. Then, log into the 5Paisa app, check the current market prices and place a buy order for the stocks.

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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.

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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

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

Getty Images

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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Best Value Cruise Line Stocks

Fastest growing cruise line stocks, cruise line stocks with the best performance, advantages of cruise line stocks, risks of cruise line stocks.

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Top Cruise Line Stocks for 2023

CCL, NCLH, and RCL are top for value, growth, and performance, respectively

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Peter Adams/Getty Images

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 ."


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.


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

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

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Forget AI and self-driving cars - 2 of the S&P 500's 5 best-performing stocks this year are cruise lines

  • Royal Caribbean and Carnival are among the five best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 this year.
  • The other three are tech titans: Nvidia, Tesla, and Meta Platforms.
  • The two cruise lines are seeing their businesses rebound strongly after the pandemic.

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Two of the five best performers in the S&P 500 this year have nothing to do with artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, or any other revolutionary technologies. They ferry people around the world on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean Cruises stock has surged 97% this year, trailing only Nvidia (187%) and Meta Platforms (139%) in the benchmark US stock index. Carnival Corporation , another cruise line, has soared 81%. Elon Musk's Tesla rounds out the S&P 500's biggest winners this year, with a 96% gain.

Royal Caribbean and Carnival have racked up those massive gains in 2023 for a few reasons. A key one is the pair have a lot of ground to make up; they were among the hardest-hit stocks during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the cruise business ground to a halt once global travel restrictions were imposed.

Despite their robust gains this year, Carnival shares still trade about 70% below their pre-pandemic levels, while Royal Caribbean shares are down by around 25%.

The release of pent-up demand for travel has also revitalized the companies' operations, their latest earnings reports show.

For example, Royal Caribbean's revenue nearly tripled year-on-year to $2.9 billion in the first quarter as both ticket and onboard sales soared. As a result, the operator swung from a nearly $900 million operating loss to an almost $300 million profit, and more than doubled its full-year growth expectations to as high as 7.75%.

Meanwhile, Carnival's revenue jumped by about 230% to over $9 billion in the first six months of this year, fueling a $120 million operating profit — a sharp contrast to its $1.5 billion operating loss in the same period of 2022. The company raked in record second-quarter revenue, and passenger bookings for future trips hit an all-time high.

Royal Caribbean and Carnival are riding high on a tidal wave of demand, and their stock prices are still well below pre-pandemic levels.

Their fortunes could turn if stubborn inflation, higher interest rates, and a looming recession lead consumers to pull back on spending – but for now, they're holding their own against some of the most buzzy stocks on the market.

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The 3 Smartest Cruise Stocks to Buy With $5,000 Right Now

Here are just a few of the top cruise stocks to buy and hold today


  • Here are just a few of the top cruise stocks to buy and hold today.
  • Royal Caribbean ( RCL ): JPMorgan raised its price target on RCL to $175 with an overweight rating.
  • Carnival ( CCL ): The company just crushed earnings and raised its forecast.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line ( NCLH ): Analysts at Truist just upgraded NCLH to a buy rating with a price target of $21.

Cruise stocks to buy - The 3 Smartest Cruise Stocks to Buy With $5,000 Right Now

Source: Kokoulina /

It’s been smooth sailing for the cruise industry – creating a big opportunity for some of the top cruise stocks to buy.

For one, as I said just days ago,   companies like  Norwegian Cruise Lines  (NYSE: NCLH ) report  record bookings  thanks to booming demand.  Carnival  (NYSE: CCL ) says it’s “ capturing more guests than ever before .”  Royal Caribbean  (NYSE: RCL ) is  hiring thousands  to staff its ships and private destinations to meet demand.

Two, according to JPMorgan , the cruise industry could capture 3.8% of the $1.9 trillion global vacation market by 2028 – which may be lowballing it. The firm notes the number of cruise passengers could grow to about 35.7 million this year, which is 6% higher than in 2019. 

“Cruise operators are overhauling their offerings in order to appeal to consumers. Key operators are investing in new hardware, notably mega-ships and private destinations. This is driving more eyeballs to the industry, accelerating new-to-cruise acquisition,” they added .

Three, boats are being filled fast. “We’re getting close to the point where we’ll soon be taking more bookings for ’25 than we are for 2024,”  Royal Caribbean Group CEO  Jason Liberty told investors during a late-April earnings call, adding the company is also taking bookings for 2026.

That being said, it just makes sense to invest in cruise stocks, including:

Royal Caribbean ( RCL )

The last time I highlighted an opportunity in Royal Caribbean,  I said , “It’s just starting to bounce from support at $145, where it’s still a buy. Near term, I’d like to see RCL initially retest its prior high of $157.50, which shouldn’t be a problem with surging cruise bookings.”

At the time, RCL traded at around $149. Now at $154.41, it’s still a buy as it pivots higher.

Earnings have also been solid, as expected. Adjusted earnings per share of $1.77 beat estimates by $0.46. Revenue of $3.73 billion – up 29.2% year over year – beat by $38.9 million. It also hiked its EPS guidance to a new range of $2.65 to $2.75 compared to estimates of $2.37. 

JPMorgan also raised its price target on RCL to $175 with an overweight rating. Analysts at Argus also raised their price target on RCL to $172 with a buy rating. All thanks to its optimism over the company’s financial prospects following a spike in occupancy rates.

Carnival ( CCL )

Recent weakness cruise stocks to buy, like Carnival, is another hot opportunity.

With stronger demand and higher occupancy rates, Carnival numbers have been solid. 

In its first quarter, revenue hit a record  first-quarter high of $5.4 billion . Deposits jumped to $7 billion in the quarter. Adjusted EBITDA more than doubled year over year to $871 million. Even its  loss per share  narrowed from $0.55 last year to $0.17. Moving forward, I expect for numbers to sail even higher with explosive, growing demand for cruise vacations.

In its  second quarter earnings report  – out this morning – the company’s EPS of 11 cents beat by 13 cents. Revenue of $5.78 billion, up 17.7% year over year beat by $90 million. Total customer deposits for the quarter came in at $8.3 billion (an all-time high). The company also raised its forecast thanks to strong demand.

In fact, it now  expects 2024 adjusted profit per share of about $1.18 , compared with its earlier forecast of 98 cents. It also forecast an adjusted profit of $1.15 per share for the third quarter. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.10.

Norwegian Cruise Line ( NCLH )

Another one of the top cruise stocks to buy on weakness is Norwegian Cruise Line. After gapping from about $18 to $16.18, NCLH is just starting to pivot higher. Last trading at $17.40, I’d like to see it initially retest $18.50 again shortly.

Helping, analysts at  Truist just upgraded NCLH  to a buy rating with a price target of $21. The firm noted it’s “time to get back onboard NCLH” and that there is still plenty of “attractive upside potential” with the stock. 

Deutsche Bank , JPMorgan, Wells Fargo , Stifel , Goldman Sachs , UBS and Citi raised their price targets on NCLH, too. Plus, company  director Zillah Byng-Thorne  just bought 13,360 shares for about $220,440. Even Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies fund recently picked up 252,900 shares of NCLH at the end of March.

Again, just as we’ve said with Carnival and Royal Caribbean, use weakness as an opportunity. With greater demand for cruises, it should be smooth sailing ahead for these companies.

On the date of publication, Ian Cooper did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the  Publishing Guidelines.

Ian Cooper, a contributor to, has been analyzing stocks and options for web-based advisories since 1999.

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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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7 cruise stocks to buy now.

Cruising is one of the worst performing industries in 2022. Most cruise stocks are underperforming the index and are currently trading near their 52-week lows. This might sound paradoxical, as cruise companies are delivering solid growth in revenues. Most companies have strong order books, rising occupancy rates, and considerable increases in customer deposits. In fact, cash generated from higher customer deposits has kept them going so far.

However, rising fuel prices driven by inflation and increased debt burdens due to Covid-19 have put the industry under pressure. The industry came to a complete standstill in 2020 when the government imposed restrictions on travel and social gatherings in an effort to curb Covid-19 infections. Hence, cruise companies were compelled to borrow funds in order to survive.

With the Federal Reserve hiking its funding rate by 75 basis points to 1.5% to 1.75%, the highest in two decades, there’s a possibility of a recession. Generally, demand for leisure falls during an economic slowdown as people tend to spend less on discretionary items.

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On a positive note, a strong job market, higher household savings, and pent-up demand for travel from the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns should keep the industry sailing. As most of the cruise company’s stock prices are already battered down, investing in these stocks has become attractive.

5 Best Stocks to Buy if You Have $100 to Spend

Here is a list of seven companies that are expected to perform well over the long term:

Cruise Stocks: Carnival Corporation (CCL)

Source: Flickr

Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL ) is the largest cruise operator, sailing 91 ships across ten cruise line brands with a total capacity of 243,180 berths . The company derives 55.8% of its revenues from its services in the North American region, followed by Europe at 42.5%, Australia and Asia at 0.9%, and other regions at 0.7% at the end of fiscal 2021. The majority of the revenues are generated from providing on-board services, which accounted for 61% of revenues in 2021, with the rest coming from ticket sales.

Most recently, CCL reported positive developments in its second quarter (Q2) 2022 business update. Total revenues increased almost 50% from the first quarter to $2.4 billion, driven by a strong demand for cruises. Reflecting this, occupancy rates have increased to 69% from the 54% reported in the last quarter.

Management noted total bookings for future cruises have doubled in Q2 2022 versus Q1 2022, marking the best volume since the beginning of the pandemic. As such, CCL is bringing more ships into service in order to cater to the higher demand.

Despite a strength in demand, the bottom line remains weak due to a significant amount of leverage. It will take time for the company to recover as it is still not operating at full capacity. However, if demand continues to be upbeat, the cruise line has the capacity to recover soon.

Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)

Source: Laszlo Halasi /

Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE: RCL ) is the second-largest cruise line operator in the world after Carnival Corporation, with 61 ships with a total capacity of 137,930 berths as of the end of 2020. The company operates three cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises.

During the first quarter business update, management disclosed that RCL’s advanced booking volumes have surpassed the record levels achieved in 2019 by 40%, lending optimism to future growth prospects. As RCL commences full-fleet operations during the year, management hopes to return to full profitability by the second half of 2022. The company already achieved a positive operating cash flow in the month of April 2022.

Royal Caribbean launched two ships, Wonder of the Seas and Celebrity Beyond, in the first quarter and second quarter, respectively.

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As the company has stepped-up efforts to overcome staffing shortages, it should be able to operate uninterruptedly.

Cruise Stocks: Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH)

Source: Nazar Skladanyi / Shutterstock

In terms of fleet size, Norwegian Cruise Line (NYSE: NCLH ) is the third-largest cruise operator in the United States. The company operates 27 ships with about 58,400 berths that sail across 490 destinations in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and other regions.

In May 2022, the company announced it would resume sailing all its cruise ships to meet rising demand. With its full fleet back in service, management expects NCLH to generate positive operating cash flow in the second quarter.

Booking trends remain upbeat, exceeding pre-covid levels. As a result, it is ramping up its capacity to take nine more ships through 2027. Management expects occupancy rates to improve amid high demand and hopes to achieve record net yields for the full year of 2023.

With limited operational capacity and strong demand, the company is gaining through higher pricing, mostly driven by on-board bundled offers.

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings (LIND)

Source: Arild Lilleboe / Shutterstock

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings (NASDAQ: LIND ) works with National Geographic to explore natural environments through its state-of-the-art exploration tools. The company’s expeditions are generally educational and promote learning through interaction with leading scientists, naturalists, and researchers to offer conservation of natural habitats and wildlife.

The company provides expedition cruising and adventurous travel opportunities through its fleet of ten owned expedition ships and five seasonal charter vessels. Most of its guests are small groups of affluent people who are extremely loyal. Around 40% of its guests return each year. Most of its expeditions are expensive, ranging between $5,000 and $25,000 , depending on the itinerary.

Like others, the company’s business was hard hit during the pandemic. However, it is now experiencing a steady increase in revenues and future bookings. At the end of Q1 2022, revenues surpassed consensus estimates by $10.7 million to register $67.8 million , led by an increase in expeditions and trips.

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With rising environmental awareness and a need to preserve the environment, demand for such expeditions should grow. LIND stock should stand to benefit.

Cruise Stocks: OneSpaWorld (OSW)

Source: UfaBizPhoto/

OneSpaWorld  (NASDAQ: OSW ) is the largest provider of health and wellness services on board in the world. It offers services such as spa, salon, skincare, beauty products, fitness facilities, and specialized fitness classes. The company operates a fleet of 171 cruise ships across 51 destination resorts around the world.

The company’s revenues have been growing consistently over the last five quarters. It also delivered positive adjusted EBITDA and a better-than-expected cash burn rate. Given higher demand, management expects to commence service on 12 new ships, bringing the number of total fleets to 174 ships by the end of Q3 2022.

OSW ended the quarter with $30.9 million in cash and $13 million available under its credit facility. Given its cash burn rate of $1.9 million in Q1 2022, it has sufficient liquidity to carry out its business plans. As long as leisure cruising remains upbeat, the company’s performance will improve further.

Defiance Hotel, Airline, and Cruise ETF (CRUZ)

Source: Shine Nucha / Shutterstock

Defiance Hotel, Airline, and Cruise ETF   (NYSEARCA: CRUZ ) is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) focused on investing in companies that derive at least 50% of their revenues from the passenger airline, hotel and resort, or cruise industries. Investors might find it lucrative to invest in the ETF as it diversifies investments across different companies without having to invest a large sum of money.

In addition, an ETF fund eliminates the need to have a fund manager as it is rule-based.

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The ETF has investments across some of the most well-known cruise companies. Given its lower expense ratio of 0.45, it makes sense to invest in the fund.

Cruise Stocks: The Walt Disney Company (DIS)

Source: chrisdorney / Shutterstock

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS ) is a highly diversified entertainment company. The company operates Disney theme parks and resorts, distributes media and entertainment, and sells branded merchandise, books, and magazines through retail, online, and wholesale businesses. It has also set up a cruise line operation as its subsidiary.

Disney has a track record of delivering solid growth in revenues and profits. The company’s Disney+ and other streaming services have gained significant consumer traction in the past couple of years.

With the economy normalizing and a pent-up demand for travel, the company plans to expand its cruise line business by adding three more ships this year.

The average analyst rating on the stock is a “strong buy.” The average price target is $140.09, representing an upside potential of 48.56% from the current price as of writing.

On the date of publication, Sakshi Agarwalla did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

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