The cruise line industry is part of the broader travel and tourism industry, focused primarily on providing sea-based vacation experiences. Companies in the industry own and operate cruise ships in various destinations worldwide, offering a variety of itineraries and themed cruises. They also may provide other travel and vacation services. The big cruise line companies include Carnival Corp. (CCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH). The cruise line industry has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions and other social-distancing measures. The Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to pose a public health threat, posing new risks to the industry.

All pure-play cruise line stocks available to U.S. investors are underperforming the broader market, having provided total returns below the 35.7% total return of the iShares Russell 1000 ETF (IWB) over the past 12 months. This market performance number and all statistics in the tables below are as of Sept. 9, 2021.

Below, we look at the top 3 cruise line stocks with the best value, least sales decline, and most momentum.

There are just 4 pure-play cruise line companies easily available to U.S. investors, but we look at them in our usual style. Because the entire industry has suffered losses in the most recent quarter, the value section below will be based on price-to-sales ratio rather than the usual price-to-earnings ratio (P/E Ratio).

Best Value Cruise Line Stocks

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.

Best Value Cruise Line Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/S Ratio
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc. (LIND) 13.79 0.7 37.3
Carnival Corp. (CCL) 22.78 26.4 160.7
Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) 80.29 20.5 201.3

Source: YCharts

  • 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 Expeditions announced in early August financial results for Q2 of its 2021 fiscal year (FY), ended June 30, 2021. The company reported a net loss attributable to shareholders that narrowed to $35.3 million from $39.7 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue for the quarter was $15.3 million compared to -$268,000 in the year-ago quarter. The company said that eight of its nine owned and operated ships restarted expeditions as of July 31, 2021.
  • 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 throughout the world. Carnival announced in late June financial results for Q2 FY 2021, ended May 31, 2021. The company's net loss narrowed to $2.0 billion from $4.4 billion in the year-ago quarter. Revenue sank more than 93% year over year (YOY). Carnival said that 42 of its ships, which represent more than half of its capacity, have been scheduled to return to service by the end of its fiscal year.
  • Royal Caribbean Group: Royal Caribbean Group, formerly known as Royal Caribbean Cruises, operates a fleet of vessels in the cruise vacation industry. The company announced in early August that its remaining ships would return to sailing by spring 2022.

Cruise Line Stocks with the Least Sales Decline

These are the cruise line stocks with the least year-over-year (YOY) sales decline for the most recent quarter. A company’s ability to maintain sales in a difficult business environment can be a sign of good management and/or a strong business model.

Cruise Line Stocks with the Least Sales Decline
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) Sales Growth (%)
Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) 80.29 20.5 -71.0
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) 24.42 9.0 -74.2
Carnival Corp. (CCL) 22.78 26.4 -93.4

Source: YCharts

  • Royal Caribbean Group: See above for company description.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.: Norwegian Cruise Line operates a fleet of passenger cruise ships. The company offers itineraries and theme cruises. The company announced in early August financial results for Q2 FY 2021, ended June 30, 2021. Norwegian Cruise Line posted a net loss of $717.8 million, a slight deterioration from the net loss of $715.2 million reported in the year-ago quarter. Total revenue sank 74.2% YOY. The company said that it expects its full fleet of 28 ships to return to service by April 1, 2022.
  • Carnival Corp.: See above for company description.

Cruise Line Stocks with the Most Momentum

These are the cruise line stocks that had the highest total return over the last 12 months.

Cruise Line Stocks with the Most Momentum
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) 24.42 9.0 31.8
Carnival Corp. (CCL) 22.78 26.4 24.6
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc. (LIND) 13.79 0.7 20.4
iShares Russell 1000 ETF (IWB) N/A N/A 35.7

Source: YCharts

  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.: See above for company description.
  • Carnival Corp.: See above for company description.
  • Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc.: See above for company description.

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