3 Top Cruise Ship Stocks To Buy In 2021

Skeppsdal, Stockholm, Sweden - July, 8th 2018: Serenade of the Seas Cruiser Ship passing by in the Stockholm Swedish archipelago.
Remus Kotsell / Getty Images

Wondering which stocks are hot on the market this year? Despite the proliferation of the delta coronavirus variant, cruise operators are picking up the pace, adding new dates to meet consumer demand. This could be good news for stock investors.

Continue reading to learn the top three cruise stocks that are making investors hopeful this year about the cruise industry bouncing back after being deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overview of the Cruise Industry

The cruise industry consists of all business entities involved with tourism and transport on cruise ships. Cruise industry operations include cruise lines, cruise ship manufacturers and entertainment companies that specialize in cruise ship entertainment.

About Cruise Lines

A cruise line is a company that operates fleets of cruise ships and sells cruise experiences to customers. An all-inclusive cruise ticket will usually include:

  • A stateroom aboard the cruise ship
  • A variety of entertainment
  • Stops at specified travel destinations, such as port stops

Global cruise lines are a major part of the travel industry, including entertainment, leisure and hospitality management. For these reasons, investors may see the benefits of buying stock in the rebounding cruise line industry.

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Exploring the Top 3 Cruise Ship Stocks

Although the cruise ship industry has suffered financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, investors can be hopeful for a strong bounceback. Here’s a look at the top three cruise line stocks based on recent market performance.

Cruise Line Based In/Operates In Last Traded Price Percent Up
Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) North America, Australia, Europe, Asia $22.75 27.24%
Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited (RCL) Florida $81.56 16.28%
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) Scandinavia, Western Europe, UK $24.59 37.14%

Here’s some information about the three best performers — CCL, RCL and NCLH — to help you make sound investment decisions if you choose to buy cruise line stocks in 2021.

1. Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL)

Carnival, the world’s largest cruise line operator, cruises to destinations all over the world. The cruise line’s Carnival Pride begins sailing again on Sept. 12 from Baltimore, Md. to the Bahamas– the first ship to set sail from the Baltimore cruise terminal in 18 months. This is a big deal as the world continues to reopen.

Prioritizing public health, Carnival aims to restore consumer confidence as a leading force in global economic recovery, travel and tourism. The company is facilitating pre-cruise COVID-19 tests for its passengers. Beginning Sept. 13, all passengers must show proof of a negative test taken within the past two days, regardless of vaccine status.

2. Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited (RCL)

Royal Caribbean is the second largest in cruise line operations, after Carnival, and includes three popular subsidiary cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises. Over the past year, RCL stock is up over 35%.

Prior to the pandemic, Royal Caribbean had placed orders for a number of new cruise ships, including a brand new class called the Icon Class, according to the company’s blog. Although Royal Caribbean has had to scale back its timelines, passengers can still expect a number of new ships to come available over the next two years.

Cruising enhancements will include:

  • Adjusted passenger capacity
  • Additional health and safety protocols
  • Adhering to government and health authority guidance from the Healthy Sail Panel

With these new developments — and Royal Caribbean’s ability to adjust according to economic conditions — potential investors may seriously consider adding RCL stock to their investment portfolio.

3. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH)

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Coming in as the third-largest cruise line in the world, Norwegian has a fleet of 28 ships sailing to more than 490 global destinations. By 2027, the cruise line plans to add nine ships to its inventory. In the meantime, Norwegian has three ships in service and plans to return nine more before the end of the year.

To sail with Norwegian, all passengers and crew will have to be fully vaccinated, i.e., vaccinated at least two weeks prior to embarking, from COVID-19 as a requirement of its comprehensive SailSAFE health and safety initiative. Before embarking on any of its ships, Norwegian travelers will also be subject to COVID-19 testing. These thorough travel safety measures may be appealing to potential NCLH stock investors.

Consider Before Investing in Cruise Stocks

People worldwide have been waiting anxiously to resume their vacations aboard cruise ships. Investors could consider this eagerness as a sign that the cruise industry might be a great place to purchase stocks after a long-awaited economic recovery and end to the pandemic.

Savvy investors concentrate on industries and businesses that they know, understand and thoroughly research before buying stock. Sound investing involves learning companies’ business models and how they compare to other companies in the same industry.

With as much knowledge as possible about the cruise ship industry and how well the cruise lines are positioned, well-educated investors have a leg up over other investors.

What’s the Deal on Cruise Line Stocks Today?

Despite being one of the hardest-hit industries by the pandemic, cruise line stocks are currently performing well. However, keep in mind that recovery has been uneven, and some of the cruise industry’s early gains have been lost as the Delta variant tempers demand.

The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations — Nasdaq or Nasdaq Composite — is an index composed of more than 3,000 stocks and lists the top three cruise line stock performers on the New York Stock Exchange as:

  • Carnival Corporation (CCL)
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited (RCL)
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH)

The NYSE is based on the cumulative market capitalization of its listed stocks and securities and is the largest equities-based exchange worldwide.

Good To Know

The 2021 Cruise Industry News Annual Report indicates that the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Asia/Pacific regions account for the three largest markets of the world’s cruise capacity.

As the focus on responsible tourism gains momentum in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cruise industry continues its commitment to a healthier and prosperous future. The cruise industry is coming back through innovation and environmental technology.

Investors value business readiness to have confidence that they are investing in a financially viable business. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines are making strides to come back with a vengeance.

Will investors get a good return on their investment in these cruise line stocks? Time will tell.

Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Sep. 12, 2021.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  

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