Since the COVID vaccine roll out, the travel industry in the U.S. is starting to ramp back up. For all the cruise lovers, Royal Caribbean lines have jreceived CDC approval to start test cruises starting in June. The caveat being the cruise line can only run at 10% capacity. Those who decide to cruise with Royal Caribbean do not have to be vaccinated. Those that aren’t vaccinated must provide documentation from a doctor or write one themselves that states that they are not at high risk for developing COVID. Royal Caribbean and all other cruise lines that get greenlit by the CDC must also enforce social distancing protocols. Below are a few more details from People:
They’re the first cruise line company to receive CDC approval for test cruises. The company’s Freedom of the Seas ship, which is based in Port Miami, will begin running simulated cruises with volunteer passengers on June 20.
It’ll be the first cruise ship to sail from a U.S. port since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic brought the industry to a halt.
“After 15 months of hard work and collaboration, today’s approval of our simulated cruises on board Freedom of the Seas is the latest promising step in our path to return to sailing in the U.S.,” Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley told PEOPLE in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming our crew, loyal guests and supporters from around the world this summer.”
According to the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), passengers on simulated cruises are not required to be vaccinated — though if they aren’t, they must either provide written documentation from a health care provider or must give a personal statement attesting they are not at high risk for developing a severe infection if exposed to COVID-19.
All must also agree to be evaluated for COVID-19 symptoms both before embarking and after disembarking, as well as agree to be tested for COVID-19 in a 3-5 day period following the test cruise’s completion.
Test cruises will only be allowed to carry 10 percent of total passenger capacity permitted. Meals, excursions, and entertainment events will require social distancing.
Cruise companies had to set up additional testing and social distancing requirements before they could move forward to operate mock voyages. The simulations, like the ones Royal Caribbean will now be allowed to operate, are meant to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk.
It’s a no for me. The fact that people will not be required to be vaccinated before boarding is absolutely reckless. Especially since a lot of people died at sea when COVID first started. Cruise lines were left stranded out at sea for weeks on end while people died from COVID on board. Staff and crew were made to stay on board for months, with some dying by suicide from the trauma because they thought they’d never get home. Cruise lines should take even more precautions than planes and trains since they spend days sometime weeks with people huddled in enclosed quarters. I understand that these companies need to make money but without the proper protocols up front this will cost them later. I personally would make it mandatory for travelers to be vaccinated and tested. Many countries are requiring travelers to be fully vaccinated and tested. I am hoping that, as we reopen borders, countries and companies will be smarter than this with how they handle travelers.
photos credit: Royal Caribbean via Instagram, Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels