Cruise Lines Gain as Senate Advances Bill Resuming Alaskan Trips

Cruise-line stocks led by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. climbed Friday after the Senate passed legislation to help the companies resume sailings to Alaska, a key destination for the industry during the North American summer.

Norwegian was up as much as 7.4% to $28.39 in New York, its biggest gain in three weeks. Carnival Corp., the industry leader, rose as much as 7.1%, while Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. gained as much as 6.9%.

The Senate measure seeks to get around Canada’s ban on cruising until 2022, which was enacted over concern about Covid-19. Maritime law bars foreign-flagged ships from transporting passengers directly between two U.S. ports, so Alaska voyages typically stop in Canada.

The Senate legislation, which still needs to be passed by the House and signed by the president, would provide a temporary waiver to the foreign-port requirement. It would expire in March 2022 or as soon as Canada lifts its restrictions.

The industry is actively pursuing the waiver, Royal Caribbean Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty said on a conference call. Without it, the only other option to save an Alaskan summer season would be to get Canada to make an exception for “technical stops.”

The development adds to growing optimism more than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic scuttled all voyages in U.S. waters. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed a path for companies’ returns to the sea, provided most guests and crew are vaccinated or the ships prove their Covid-19 safety in trial voyages.

Bigger Changes

More broadly, increasing vaccinations and declining Covid-19 cases have begun to trigger some major changes for the government and businesses. The CDC said Thursday that vaccinated people in the U.S. no longer have to wear masks in most circumstances. Asked if that would affect the agency’s stricter cruise-specific guidance, the CDC said there was no update at this time.

“The mask order for cruise ships is still in place,” CDC spokeswoman Jasmine Reed said in an email.

The S&P 500 Hotels Resorts & Cruise Lines index has almost doubled over the past year, recovering most of the value lost in the early pandemic sell-off.

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