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The updated guidance comes less than a month after the agency lifted its “No-Sail” order for larger ships in U.S. waters.

By Alison Fox
November 23, 2020
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the weekend classified cruising as a Level 4 —or very high — risk of contracting COVID-19, recommending people avoid getting on ships.

“CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high,” the agency wrote in its advisory. “It is especially important that people with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.”

The updated guidance comes less than a month after the agency lifted its “No-Sail” order for larger ships in U.S. waters and issued new guidance that would allow cruise lines to begin a "phased resumption of cruise ship operations.” It also comes after a cruise ship was forced to turn around and cancel its operations following a COVID-19 outbreak onboard its first sailing in the Caribbean in months.

MSC cruise ships
Credit: MSC Cruises

Those who do decide to get on a cruise ship should get tested three to five days after their trip and self-quarantine for seven days after traveling, regardless of the results of the test, according to the CDC. That mirrors the agency’s testing recommendation for international travel.

While the CDC’s advisory may have just been updated, several cruise lines have already cancelled itineraries through the end of the year and even into 2021, and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents major cruise lines, extended its voluntary suspension of cruise operations in the U.S. through Dec. 31.

Royal Caribbean, however, has started to look toward the future, putting out a call for volunteers to test everything from shore excursions to COVID-19 quarantine protocols on trial sailings, a provision of the CDC’s requirements to restart operations. Within days, more than 100,000 people signed up for the simulated voyages.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.