Cruise-ship stocks gain as CDC guidance suggests industry is closer to setting sail

The Crystal Serenity cruise ship.
The Crystal Serenity cruise ship.

  • Cruise-ship stocks soared on Monday after the CDC released a technical guidance update that suggests the industry is closer to setting sail again.
  • The guidance includes additional safety standards cruise-ships must adopt to help combat COVID-19.
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines submitted to the CDC its plans to set sail for the first time since the pandemic began on July 4.
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Cruise-ship stocks soared on Monday after the CDC released a technical guidance update that suggests the industry may be allowed to set sail with paying passengers later this year.

Cruise ships in the US have been unable to set sail for more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Shares of Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Corp., and Royal Caribbean Group soared as much as 8%, 7% and 5% in Monday trades, respectively.

The CDC guidance sets up additional COVID-19 protocols for cruise-ships to follow, including running trial voyages with volunteers to test out the new measures before sailing with paying customers.

Requirements also include cruise ships following a color-coded guidance system used to classify ships related to COVID-19, and testing requirements for crew members on a routine basis depending on the ship’s color code.

Norwegian Cruise Lines outlined its plan to resume sailing later this year in a letter submitted to the CDC. The company will require its guests and crew members to be fully vaccinated during the initial relaunch of its cruise-ships.

Norwegian said it plans to restart cruising from US ports starting on July 4, pending approval from the CDC. That could be good timing for the company, as US consumers begin to shift their spending towards services, which bodes well for the travel sector, according to a recent note from Jefferies.

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Cruise ships are being scrapped as the industry struggles to ride out the pandemic

  • 2020 was supposed to be a banner year for the cruise industry before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
  • With no-sail orders in place, some companies saved money by sending entire cruise ships to the scrapyard.
  • The industry is relying on customer loyalty to bounce back from a disastrous year that has cost lives, jobs and hit revenues hard.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
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Around-the-world cruises costing up to $500,000 are selling out 2 years in advance as eager travelers prepare for restrictions to lift

Oceania Cruises  insignia
Oceania Cruises’ Insignia ship.

  • As people anticipate an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, some cruises are selling out well in advance.
  • Monthlong trips with Oceania Cruises and Seabourn for 2023 have sold out.
  • Major US cruises are set to return no earlier than May. The CDC temporarily banned them last year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Tickets for around-the-world cruises are selling out years ahead of their departure date as travelers anticipate the end of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

When Viking Ocean Cruises released tickets for a 136-day world cruise for late 2021, they sold out in weeks, Bloomberg first reported Monday. The same happened when it announced in December a second cruise to take place at the end of the year, Viking told the publication.

The ships for the two cruises – Viking Star and Viking Neptune – carry 930 passengers each but have left some rooms free for potential quarantine measures, the company told Bloomberg.

The company said it was planning another world-cruise itinerary for 2023, per Bloomberg.

“We are looking to open the next opportunity as quickly as we can,” Richard Marnell, the executive vice president of marketing for Viking, told Bloomberg.

The luxury cruise line Seabourn sold out all penthouse spa and premium suites on its 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn for two world trips in 2022 and 2023, a company representative told Insider’s Brittany Chang in a statement Sunday. Couples are paying up to $500,000 for a five-month cruise, and the company had to recently open waiting lists, Bloomberg reported.

Oceania Cruises also sold out its 2023 “Around the World in 180 Days” cruise in 24 hours on January 27, Insider reported previously. The Insignia ship, which accommodates a maximum of 684 passengers, travels to five continents, including Antarctica, and 61 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Bob Binder, Oceania Cruises’ president and CEO, said in a statement that its quick sale time was due to “pent-up demand.”

Insider has reached out to Viking and Oceania Cruises for comment.

The high demand for tickets is a sign of hope for the struggling cruise industry, which was thrown into turmoil when COVID-19 spread across several ships last March.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people avoid traveling on cruise ships, which are especially susceptible to spreading COVID-19.

After the pandemic took hold in March, the CDC temporarily banned cruises in the US to curb the spread of the virus. But in October, the agency replaced its no-sail order with a “framework for Conditional Sailing Order” – a list of requirements necessary for cruise lines to continue sailing again.

The soonest any major US cruise is scheduled to operate is May. Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Disney said they would resume sailing after May, while P&O Cruises has stopped all trips through April.

Since COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out, several large cruise companies, including Carnival, Crystal Cruises, and Norwegian Cruises, have announced vaccine requirements for guests and staff members.

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