The top story right now at CruiseCritic, the most-popular cruise deal and news site in the world, is "When are Cruise Lines Around the World Expected To Resume Service?". The problem is: no one seems to know, and it's hurting the industry and driving future cruise prices down.
Meanwhile, analysts are calling industry leader Carnival Cruise's ($NYSE:CCL) stock overweight. As cruise enthusiasts await the re-launch of their favorite travel industry, they're watching prices closely: lines like Carnival continue to offer special deals on future cruises, assuming those ships sail.
And as a prospective re-launch date for ships continues to slip into the future, cruise lines continue to offer deeper discounts as a way to hedge their bottom line. It's unclear if people are booking future cruises — most are still looking for refunds for cruises that never sailed.
We saw immediate price drops when Coronavirus first docked ships, but we're now seeing a trend that doesn't appear to have yet found its bottom. Here's where we're at.
Across the board at Carnival, average stateroom price is down, with Interior rooms seeing the deepest cuts. In the past three months, Interior average prices are down 5.7%. Suites, on the other hand, are holding prices, ostensibly as a halo product that Carnival hopes to use to create revenue once things get sailing again. In fact, Suite prices are up 2.6% over the past three months.
It's unclear if Suite stateroom prices will hold, however. In the past week, Suite prices have finally begun to crack, moving from an average of $1,085 on March 16 to $1,077 on March 19, the most significant average move we've seen on these hard-to-get staterooms.
Balcony stateroom cruise prices, typically the second-most expensive room type, have moved from an average of around $790 in early March to $768 as of last week, the steepest decline on March 10, as we saw in the past.
At the end of February, Interior stateroom cruise prices averaged $559. As of March 19, that average has sunk to $539 and, like other cruise trends we're seeing here, appears to be due for another cut.
Interior stateroom cruise prices began March about $460 on average, and now sit at just $436, with what appears to be another downslope in the future.
Almost paradoxically, Carnival was on a bit of a run in early 2020, seeing its heaviest hiring activity in years and experiencing a stock run. But as we see the two compared here, a steep decline in stock price preceded — by days — a near hiring freeze as the company waits things out.
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