You're married, you've saved some money and you have a little extra cash with which to try your hand at investing, but you know little about how to go about it. You and your spouse celebrated your honeymoon aboard an ocean cruise liner and you want to go again -- only this time you want to go not merely as a passenger but also as an investor.
There are several ways to get involved in trading. You may sign up with a brokerage house, where you will get advice and a stock broker who will watch your portfolio for you, or may can sign up with an online trading house and do it yourself. If you are a hands-on kind of couple, the online trading venues may be the way to go. Major brokerage houses frequently charge higher fees because they give advice and offer other financial services, and they also may require a minimum deposit to open an account. Online trading companies usually offer lower fees because they simply execute the trades you order. If you don't want advice, go online.
All of the firms offer you research options. You may list the cruise stocks you're thinking about and check out the stocks' histories. Particularly with cruise stocks, you may want to investigate safety records, accidents or other incidents that could be detrimental to the stock price. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) had a 4 percent drop in price after the Costa Concordia accident in Italy. When you investigate the various stocks, it helps to know which companies own which cruise cruise ships. Ships with frequent problems may indicate poor management or lack of investment in their boats, which could lead to problems that will affect their stock price in the future.
Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL), owner of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and Carnival Corp. (CCL), owner of the Carnival Cruise Line -- are the two largest cruise lines and account for 75 percent of the industry's revenue, but they aren't the only cruise line options in the stock arena. Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings Ltd. (NCLH), which represents the Norwegian Cruise Line, became a publicly held company in 2011. Walt Disney Co. (DIS) has a cruise line but it is not listed as a separate stock, so if you want to invest in it you simply purchase Walt Disney stock.
The main difference between online brokers and traditional brokers is the requirements to establish and maintain the account. With a traditional brokerage, you generally must deposit a certain amount of money to establish the account and you must maintain that amount of money to keep the account open. For example, Charles Schwab requires a minimum of $1,000 to open an account and if your account falls below the minimum it can be closed. TDAmeritrade, an online broker, requires a minimum deposit only if you want options or margin privileges. If you don't, you can buy as little as one share of stock as soon as your transferred funds clear your account. If you just plan to dabble a bit, online trading is the way to go.
Julie Segraves is a freelance writer and photographer. She has written for several community newspapers in Chicago and authors her own blog. Segraves graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor's in sociology and a minor in criminal justice. She currently works in the IT field as a mainframe operations analyst and disaster recovery specialist.