Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas conducted its test voyage from Miami last Sunday. The ship departed PortMiami around 7 pm with 600 passengers composed of employee volunteers. The purpose of the test voyage is to test the safety measures that will be implemented on the ship.
According to the CDC, there are two paths for cruises to resume sailing. One, a ship should have 95% of its passengers and crew fully vaccinated. If the required vaccination threshold is not met, a cruise line will need to conduct a test voyage as an alternative.
Patrik Dahlgren who works as senior vice president of global marine operations for Royal Caribbean Group mentioned that they “engaged the greatest experts in this country and in the world in terms of setting out what measures should we have in place”.
According to Dahlgren, with the help of the experts that worked with Royal Caribbean, they were able to figure out how to prevent cases. He also said that aside from mitigating risks onboard, experts also helped them use technology and leverage testing. However, Dahlgren admits that “the big game changer is really the vaccines”.
Strongly Recommends Vaccination
Royal Caribbean suggests its guests to get their vaccine. According to their website, “unvaccinated guests must undergo additional COVID19 testing at their own expense”.
According to Dahlgren, they are still prepared whether or not their guests are vaccinated. “We do strongly recommend all the guests be vaccinated for sure for those who are eligible, but we have measures in place to keep the cruises safe”, he said.
Complicated Return for Cruises
In April, Florida filed a lawsuit against the CDC challenging the conditional sailing order that prevented cruises from operating. On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the conditional sailing order “likely constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to CDC”.
Dahlgren said that Royal Caribbean is still looking into the possible impact of this ruling on their operations.