Royal Caribbean is on its way to launching its first test cruises in-line with the provisions of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order after the agency gave its approval to the cruise line’s plans.
The approval to run simulated voyages from the CDC is provisional and requires Royal Caribbean to meet a number of regulations as part of the Conditional Sailing Order.
The CSO contains several dozen measures governing screening, testing, social distancing, cleaning, quarantining, agreements with local port authorities for shore excursions and transport of infected crew and passengers and more.
A key first step in resuming cruises from the US, however, is to run simulated voyages with passengers to show the CDC that the measures put in place can be implemented in a real-world setting.
Royal Caribbean International plans to sail the simulated voyage with volunteers from June 20 to 22 aboard Freedom of the Seas. An embarkation port hasn’t been announced, but it is likely to be PortMiami.
“After 15 months of hard work and collaboration, today’s approval of our simulated cruises is the latest promising step in our path to return to sailing in the U.S,” Royal Caribbean International said in a statement.
“We look forward to welcoming our crew, loyal guests and supporters from around the world this summer,” it added.
Among the criteria, the simulated voyage must be conducted with at least 10 percent of the maximum number of passengers permitted onboard the first two restricted voyages as part of the company’s agreement with U.S. port and local health authorities.
The simulated voyage is the next step for the company to get authorization to conduct cruises under the Conditional Sailing Order without having to require COVID-19 vaccinations for 98 percent of passengers and 95 percent of crew.
However, Royal Caribbean has already stated that it will be requiring full vaccination of passengers, unless guests are under age or medically unable to receive the vaccine.
Royal Caribbean plans to resume cruises from the US aboard Odyssey of the Seas, which was recently redeployed to Florida from Israel, where the planned summer cruise program was cancelled amid a violent conflict with Palestine and local political unrest.