Cruises are among the most affected sectors in the travel industry since the start of the pandemic last year. Finally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention allowed cruises to restart again. The only difference is that cruises need to meet the number of vaccinated guests and passengers. If not, the CDC requires cruises to conduct simulated voyages. Royal Caribbean is the first to conduct test sailing in US waters.
Test Sailing After 15 Months
According to Caitlin Shockey who is the spokesperson for the CDC, “CDC has provisionally approved one cruise ship from Royal Caribbean to begin voyages in June, following a request to conduct a simulated voyage and the submission of an accurate and complete port agreement”.
Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley announced his excitement on Facebook. He said that “after 15 months and so much work by so many during very challenging times”. This statement comes with an attached photo of the letter of approval from the CDC.
Freedom of the Seas
The Freedom of the Seas is going to conduct test sailing along with volunteers. Volunteers need to be 18 years old and above. However, passengers are not required to have received their vaccination. For those unvaccinated volunteers, they’d need to show proof from their health care provider that they are not at a heightened risk for COVID. There will also be an evaluation for everyone for symptoms plus everyone will be tested for COVID three to five days before the simulated voyage.
The cruise industry found support from states and lawmakers that helped pressure the CDC to ease its regulations. Florida and Alaska even sued the CDC for treating the industry “unfairly”. Recently, President Biden helped Alaska to approve a law that could facilitate the resumption of cruises in the state. Now, given Royal Caribbean’s approval, will other cruises follow the same path? Will other cruises also go for a simulated voyage or will they require vaccination for passengers and employees?