Royal Caribbean International has been given the green light by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to operate a series of test cruises ahead of a full resumption of sailings from U.S. ports.
In a letter posted on Facebook by Royal Caribbean president Michael Bayley, the CDC has given the company permission to “conduct a simulated voyage on June 20-22, 2021 on board the M/V Freedom of the Seas.”
Bayley’s response was suitably enthusiastic: “To all our colleagues, loyal guests and supporters all over the world I am proud and pleased to share some bright and wonderful news! Boom! Onwards and upwards team!”
Under CDC guidelines, the test cruises will operate for between two to seven days and the ship must have enough passengers to meet at least 10 per cent of the ship’s capacity. All volunteers – and RCL has said that there are thousands of them – must be fully vaccinated or free of any medical condition that puts them at high risk for a severe form of the virus.
Each passenger must be examined for potential symptoms before and after the cruise, and at least 75 per cent must be tested at the end of the cruise.
The CDC guidelines also stipulate that ships need at least one practice run before the resumption of regular cruising, but can skip the requirement if they can vouch that 98 per cent of the crew and 95 per cent of the passengers have been vaccinated.
The test cruises will be operated out of Port Miami.