The CDC has given approval for two of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, to conduct simulated voyages as part of the cruise resumption process under the Conditional Sailing Order.
Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas are the second and third Royal Caribbean cruise ships to receive the go-ahead to run test cruises, after the CDC last week approved test cruises aboard Freedom of the Seas.
Allure of the Seas will depart July 27th from Port Canaveral on a two-night cruise to nowhere, while Symphony of the Seas will depart from PortMiami on August 1st, also sailing a two-night roundtrip voyage without any port calls.
Like Freedom of the Seas, the ships will sail with passengers, but at significantly reduced capacity, and all guests will be made up of volunteers who will not be paying for the cruise.
The intention of the voyages is to test whether Royal Caribbean’s enhanced anti-COVID-19 health and safety protocols work in a real-world environment.
Only cruise ships that intend to operate without a vaccine mandate in place need to conduct test voyages, but children are unable to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at present, meaning that cruise lines need to designate some ships as family vessels in order to continue serving this key market.
Celebrity Cruises, which has a vaccine mandate in place for guests and crew, has already been given approval for the resumption of cruises aboard Celebrity Edge from Port Canaveral later this month.
Carnival Cruise Line has also announced it will resume cruises in the coming weeks, but has not confirmed a vaccine mandate, or given any indication on the sailing of test cruises, suggesting one or the other many be announced in the coming days.
Cruise line are being assessed for restart permission by the CDC on a ship by ship basis, so some ships might not have vaccine mandates, to accommodate families, while others will.
Disney Dream is the only other cruise line to have announced the sailing of test cruises. It’s ship Disney Dream will depart Port Canaveral on June 29th, also on a cruise to nowhere.