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Royal Caribbean gets nod from CDC to conduct a test sailing

Royal Caribbean International became the first cruise line to receive CDC approval to conduct a test sailing, with the Freedom of the Seas approved to do a simulated voyage from June 20 to 22.

"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 said in a statement.

"We look forward to welcoming our crew, loyal guests and supporters from around the world this summer."

Michael Bayley, the line's CEO, posted an image of the letter approving the test sailing from the CDC on Facebook and said: "I am proud and pleased to share some bright and wonderful news! Boom! Onwards and upwards, team!"

Royal will be able to operate the Freedom of the Seas with volunteer passengers, which the line has said in the past may include both travel advisors and past passengers.

Test cruises are a mandatory part of the CDC's Conditional Sailing Order, unless the cruise operator can attest that 98% of crew and 95% of passengers onboard have been vaccinated. And Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said Monday that Royal Caribbean International would allow families with children under 12, who are not eligible for vaccination, to cruise with a negative PCR tests -- meaning the line has to conduct the trial sailings in order to obtain CDC approval.

"Under any scenario, anyone who is eligible for the vaccine will be vaccinated," Fain said. "Royal Caribbean carries a lot of families, and families are important to us. On these cruises we may not reach the 95% threshold, but the vast majority will be vaccinated."

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