Two more Royal Caribbean International ships received approval for test cruises from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
“Yippee,” Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley wrote on Facebook on June 3.
“Just got approval from the CDC for our simulated sailings on Allure of the Seas for July 27 to July 29 from Port Canaveral and Symphony of the Seas sailing from Miami on August 1st to 3rd.”
Royal Caribbean previously received approval to operate a test cruise on Freedom of the Seas June 20-22 from PortMiami.
The simulated cruises are required for ships that don’t mandate vaccinations of at least 98 percent of its crew and 95 percent of its passengers – the latter of which is difficult to do for companies that attract families since most young children aren’t eligible for the vaccines yet.
When Serenade of the Seas starts cruising in Alaska in July, vaccines are required of all guests aged 16 and older. For sailings departing after Aug. 1, the age requirement will change from 16 to 12 years of age. Younger guests don’t need to be vaccinated and will receive a SARS-Cov-2 test before boarding.
The CDC has outlined what the simulated cruises should include. Among the requirements is that passengers on test voyages must be 18 years old and present proof of vaccination or documentation that the passenger is not at high risk for severe COVID-19. All volunteer passengers “must be informed in writing that they are participating in a simulation of health and safety protocols that are unproven and untested in the United States for purposes of simulating a cruise ship voyage and that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity,” the CDC said.
Even so, Royal Caribbean has been inundated with volunteers for the test cruises.
“Royal Caribbean International has incredibly loyal and supportive guests. To date, more than 350,000 people have volunteered to participate in our return to sailing efforts,” the company said in a statement. “Their encouragement and unwavering confidence in us over the last 15 months have contributed to the collective effort of bringing cruising back. There are logistics to figure out and we will share details once they have been worked through. We look forward to having Volunteers of the Seas be part of the Royal comeback this summer.”
In related news, Bayley also provided an update on the four crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Odyssey of the Seas last week and were disembarked in Spain.
“Received notice from Captain Sindre that they continue to remain asymptomatic (no symptoms) and yesterday all tested negative and will need one more test before being released on Friday,” Bayley posted on June 3. “Plans are to reassign the crew to Harmony and Symphony of the Seas. As our protocols work and all our crew get vaccinated, we are on the road to freedom.”