The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upgraded cruise ship travel to the highest possible risk level for spreading COVID-19 – weeks after the agency gave cruises the green light to set sail.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, the CDC raised the travel risk for cruises to level 4, recommending that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.
"Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships," the CDC's travel notice reads.
Nearly a month earlier, the CDC lifted its eight-month no-sail order for cruises across the country, replacing it with a less restrictive "Conditional Sailing Order."
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The order established a framework that aimed to help the industry implement safety measures that would enable it to resume operations in U.S. waters in a phased approach. Before companies are able to restart passenger operations in any commercial form, the companies will face tests from the CDC on how safe their protocols are, the agency said.
It is unclear when ships will start to set sail from PortMiami again, but one cruise line has announced it would cancel all operations until the start of next year.
Royal Caribbean International extended its own no-sail order through Dec. 30, after consulting with the Cruise Lines International Association and the CDC.
Earlier this week, the first cruise line to set sail since the ban was lifted, SeaDream, announced it would cancel its operations for the remainder for the year after several guests and crew members tested positive for the virus.