The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has escalated its warning for cruise travel to the highest level and continued to recommend avoiding any trips on cruise ships worldwide.

The agency raised its warning to Level 4 from Level 3, citing "very high" risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships. Passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of COVID-19 and should get tested and stay home for at least seven days after travel, according to its website.

"For most travelers, cruise ship travel is voluntary and should be rescheduled for a future date," the CDC said.

The agency just last month provided a framework for cruise lines to plan for resuming operations. Under that order, passenger operations aren't allowed during initial phases, and every ship must be certified by the CDC before travelers can board.

The eight-month shutdown has been catastrophic for the cruise line industry and its three biggest operators, Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Earlier this month, Carnival canceled additional trips as it works to meet CDC requirements, pausing U.S. operations through Jan. 31.


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