NCLH

3 Cruise Stocks to Buy Now: May 2024

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The cruise line companies have been sailing through some pretty rough waves over the past few years. Not all cruise stocks have been able to cruise higher in the face of such choppy waters. Undoubtedly, Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) stock has been in a class of its own, recently hitting new all-time highs and leaving some of its notable peers at the port.

It’s tough to bet against the industry leader, given the momentum behind it. Though other cruise line operators have dealt with challenges, I also find them quite intriguing as we head into what could be a hot season for summer travel.

At this juncture, prospective investors looking for big gains in the cruising scene face a tough choice. In this piece, we’ll examine three plays that look quite affordable, given the degree of industry relief that may be in the cards.

Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)

Serenade of the Seas cruise

Source: NAN728 / Shutterstock.com

Royal Caribbean Cruises has set the gold standard in the cruising industry. With such luxurious ships and top-tier services for guests, it’s not a mystery as to why Royal Caribbean is the go-to cruiser for consumers seeking the absolute best experience possible.

With RCL stock now up more than 166% in the past two years, it certainly feels like it’s far too late to board the ship. Despite the hot run, which may not be over quite yet, by the way, shares still appear reasonably valued at just 19.19 times trailing price-to-earnings (P/E).

For those keen on setting sails with a cruise stock, I view Royal Caribbean as a fine choice at just shy of $150 per share, even if some of the cruise industry strength begins to act as a rising tide for most industry players.

Just over a month ago, Mizuho started RCL stock with a Buy rating, praising the firm for the high quality of its ships and the unique destinations (think private islands!) as a source of relative strength. I think Mizuho is spot-on; the stage seems set for more outperformance from the king of cruise lines.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH)

Norwegian Cruise Line ship arriving at a port. NCLH stock.

Source: Ian_Stewart / Shutterstock

If you’re looking to ride on the wave of a comeback, perhaps Norwegian Cruise Lines (NASDAQ:NCLH) is the better cruise line to board while it’s still trading at multi-year depths. Undoubtedly, Royal Caribbean will be a tough rival to outsail, given its advantages and classy reputation. But Norwegian doesn’t need to one-up Royal Caribbean to right the course in NCHL stock.

Norwegian is still a pretty young company, but one that has room to grow as it sets its laser sights on younger travelers, the “fastest growing” demographic. Young travelers (like Millennials and Gen Z) stand to get wealthier over the years, and many will be spending a pretty penny on experiences when the perfect time comes.

Looking ahead, it seems like management has already taken steps to course-correct. The firm expects record bookings this year, a big chunk of which could be coming ahead of and through the summer travel season. The only major question mark, I believe, is whether Norwegian can lift up the anchor that is its debt load. Indeed, there’s a boatload of debt, but it seems more than manageable.

Viking Holdings (VIK)

MV Viking Star in North Sea Canal. Detail of funnel. VIK stock and VIK IPO

Source: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock.com

Viking Holdings (NYSE:VIK) is a relative newcomer to the public markets that seems best equipped to challenge Royal Caribbean. It’s been a pretty nice run for VIK stock since sailing out of its IPO at the end of April. With a luxurious brand name and some ambitious long-term expansion plans, perhaps VIK stock is the cruiser to own for investors seeking durable growth.

Indeed, the Viking brand represents cruising royalty in its own right, with praise from Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, which named Viking as the number-one ocean line. If that kind of recognition isn’t a massive brand booster, I don’t know what is.

With 10 additional ocean ships on order through 2030, Viking certainly stands out as a potential long-term winner. Recently, the firm announced a new ship set to sail down Egypt’s Nile river. That’s an unforgettable experience that I bet travelers would be willing to pay top dollar for.

Sure, VIK stock just left the IPO harbor, but I think it’s the best cruise stock to hold as we approach summer.

On the date of publication, Joey Frenette did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Joey Frenette is a seasoned investment writer specializing in technology and consumer stocks. Contributing to the Motley Fool Canada, TipRanks, and Barchart, Joey excels in spotting mispriced stocks with long-term growth potential in a fast-paced market.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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