- President Donald Trump announced Friday morning that he had contracted COVID-19.
- The market tumbled early on Friday in response, and industry experts think the cruise industry could be negatively impacted.
- Paul Golding, an analyst at Macquarie, told Business Insider that an event raising the visibility of the virus could “potentially alter the timeline for full resumption for the cruise lines.”
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As the news of President Trump’s positive COVID-19 test slumped the market early on Friday, industry analysts predict cruising could also be negatively impacted.
Although experts don’t predict any major impact on travel, the possibility of a new presidential administration could affect the cruise industry. Plus, any event that spotlights COVID-19 risks could deal a blow to cruise lines’ reopening plans — impacting both customer demand and company willingness to restart operations, Macquarie analyst Paul Golding told Business Insider.
“Any increased visibility around the seriousness and pervasiveness of COVID, whether it’s a second wave or politically related … likely [has] a negative impact in our view on cruising demand and supply,” Golding said, adding that “we would expect that to potentially alter the timeline for full resumption for the cruise lines.”
Additionally, anything that increases the likelihood of a new administration in January — including increased visibility of infection rates or another COVID-19 wave — could negatively impact cruise supply and demand, Golding said. A new administration would likely be less sympathetic toward cruise lines reopening without a vaccine, Golding said, and be “more keen to follow doctor, scientist, [and] expert recommendation.”
That’s a particular focus this week, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pushed to extend the existing no-sail order on cruising until February. The White House intervened to overrule that plan, Axios reported, and the expiration date was instead set for October 31.
But it’s still unclear what effect, if any, Trump’s diagnosis will have on the public’s appetite for cruising and travel more generally.
“I don’t believe the president getting COVID will affect travel in a material way,” Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, which focuses on the global travel industry, told Business Insider.
It’s also not clear if news of Trump’s COVID-19 contraction will change public perception of the virus, especially as it pertains to peoples’ interest in cruises.
Business Insider has reached out to Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian to learn if they have seen any evidence of a shift in customer willingness to take a trip, and if they are taking any steps to reassure potential customers about the safety of cruising during a pandemic. Representatives for the companies did not immediately respond at the time of publishing.
Share prices for Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian plunged after the news, reflecting the overall state of global markets in the aftermath of Trump’s announcement. Stocks closely linked to the economy’s reopening — including cruises, airlines, and casinos — were hit especially hard.
The cruise industry hasn’t faced a challenge like COVID-19 in decades, experts say, but industry watchers don’t expect the pandemic to destroy cruising either.
“There’s really too much money to be made in this business for the business to go away,” Bob Levinstein, CEO of Cruise Complete, a service that allows cruise customers to compare prices, told Business Insider earlier this year. The discussion was about Carnival in particular — both the largest cruise company in the world and the subject of many disastrous COVID-19 headlines in 2020.
Cruise ships saw some of the most severe coronavirus outbreaks early on in the pandemic, leading the Centers for Disease Control to halt cruise operations back in March. The industry has remained at a standstill since, with the current extension on the no-sail order lasting through the end of October.