Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) - Get Report was leading cruise lines into a sea of red ink Monday as the government advised travelers to stay away from the battered sector in light of the spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Shares of Royal Caribbean were down 23.9% to $49.65 at last check.
“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department said in statement Sunday. “CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended that "travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide."
"Cruise ship passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including Covid-19," the agency said, using the official name of the disease.
Meanwhile, thousands of people on the Princess Cruises' Grand Princess ship are waiting to disembark in California. The process is expected to take several days.
Twenty-one people on the ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 19 crew members. The ship has 2,421 passengers and 1,113 crew members.
Crew members will remain on the ship if they don't need immediate medical attention.
Authorities are preparing to move the passengers to military bases or their home countries where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
One guest was taken from the vessel Sunday for medical reasons unrelated to the novel coronavirus, Princess Cruises said. The Princess cruise line is owned by Carnival.
Instinet analysts warned that Wall Street's estimates for cruise companies could be cut by as much as half following the State Department's warning. Even though all of the stricken vessels have been under the Carnival brand, Instinet said that "consumers and the media have concluded that all ships are not only unsafe, but are potential two-plus week prisons."
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