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Cruise stocks rise after CDC lifts no-sail order, clears industry to plan return

Florida, Port of Miami, Row of cruise ships docked, non-essential business due to Coronavirus.Jeff Greenberg | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

Cruise stocks rose Friday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it will replace its nearly 8-month old no-sail order with a less restrictive "Conditional Sailing Order."

The no-sail order expires Saturday.The new conditional order will remain in effect until either Nov. 1, 2021, the expiration of the Department of Health and Human Services' declaration of a public health emergency or when CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield decides to end it.

Shares of the largest cruise company in the world, Carnival, soared more than 11% on the news in afternoon trading Friday, before levelling off at around 7%. Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line traded more than 6% higher and Royal Caribbean stock was up more than 5%.

The CDC change doesn't mean cruising in the U.S. will resume next week, or potentially anytime soon, especially as new cases of the coronavirus continue to spike.

The new order establishes a framework that will help the industry implement safety measures that will enable it to resume operations in U.S. waters in a phased approach, the CDC said in a statement. Before restarting passenger operations in any commercial form, the companies will face tests from the CDC on how safe their protocols are, the agency said.

"This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing," Redfield said in a statement. "It will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live."

The CDC originally issued a no-sail order for cruise ships in U.S. waters on March 14 after hundreds of coronavirus infections and several Covid-19 deaths were reported onboard ships with outbreaks across the world. The CDC previously said "that cruise ship travel exacerbates the global spread of Covid-19" in justifying the order.

Last month, Redfield pushed to extend the order until February 2021, according to Axios, which cited two people familiar with the matter. Axios reported that Vice President Mike Pence overruled Redfield to extend the ban until Oct. 31.

VIDEO5:0805:08Watch CNBC's full interview with Royal Caribbean CEO Richard FainSquawk Alley

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