Call it masochism or extreme cabin fever, but people once again appear interested in taking cruises (and getting into a new cabin, at least) – Covid be damned.

Data from our parent company Thinknum Alternative Data shows web traffic at two of the world's three largest cruise lines has significantly jumped back up since the lows of 2020.

Web traffic for Carnival between March 8, 2021 and March 8, 2022 averaged about 2.3 page views per million, more than twice what it was in the preceding 12 months. Investors, however, are taking a more cautious view. Carnival shares are still down about 60% from January 2020.

Carnival seems to be positioning itself for renewed demand. From March 24, 2021 to March 24, 2022, the company's job listings increased more than six fold to 160. During the worst of the pandemic, the company’s job postings dipped down to merely one or two, according to data from Thinknum.

At Royal Caribbean, web traffic averaged about 10.5 page views per million from March 8, 2021 through March 8, 2022, which represents a nearly 300% jump from the year before. 

Furthermore, Royal Caribbean's stock has been steadily recovering from the pandemic. From January 2020 to March 2020, the company's shares plummeted over 80% to $22. Since then, its shares have rebounded to $76. 

Norwegian actually saw a 15% decline in web traffic from March 2021 to March 2022 compared to the height of the pandemic the year prior. However, the company enjoyed some big spikes in searches in June and September 2021, though the reasons  are not clear.

Norwegian stock is still down 65% from its pre-pandemic high of $57.90.

The web traffic data is not entirely surprising given our burning need to return to some sort of normalcy after two years of pandemic hell. We also have better testing and effective vaccines now. 

And besides, the federal Centers for Disease Control recently lowered its Covid risk level for cruises to Level 2 Moderate (500-999 cumulative new Covid crew case counts over the past 14 days) from Level 3 High (1,000 to 2,000).

But lest we forget, cruise ships were the last place you wanted to be during the height of the pandemic. Think about it. Thousands of people crammed into floating petri dishes which traveled to cities around the world at the same time Covid cases swept through the population. 

The Diamond Princess suffered one of the worst outbreaks with 712 out of the 3,711 passengers and crew infected and 14 deaths. The ship was quarantined in Japan for nearly a month.

The cruise ship industry and the regions that depend on it were predictably hit hard. The estimated economic losses suffered by Florida’s ports alone (including cargo and cruise ports) in 2020 was $22.2 billion. 

As eager as many may be to get back out on the seas, Covid is still very much a threat (both to passengers and to the industry). In January, the Norwegian Gem was scheduled for a 10 day jaunt through the Caribbean but Norwegian ultimately canceled the trip in the middle and returned to New York because of Covid infections. 

In the end though, the rise in cruise line web traffic suggests that one of history's deadliest diseases is simply no match for gigantic buffets, extreme water slides, and drunken karaoke.

Bon voyage!  

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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