Royal Caribbean cruise lines get CDC approval for test cruises, vaccinations not required

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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.

[From People]

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.

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photos credit: Royal Caribbean via Instagram, Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

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64 Responses to “Royal Caribbean cruise lines get CDC approval for test cruises, vaccinations not required”

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  1. Lady Luna says:

    This is so irresponsible. This is why the pandemic is still going because they’re putting profit before people.

    • Hannah says:

      Companies that put profits ahead of human life aren’t companies I’ll be supporting.

    • Lily says:

      Let em have it. We won’t have to round up all the Karens. They’ll do it themselves. Just never let them off the ship. Problem solved.

      Obviously this is a very bad idea. I can’t believe this sh*t is even being considered let alone has approval.

  2. keroppi says:

    What could go wrong!?!?

    For me, considering people were being stuck on cruise ships for weeks because of the virus, it will be a long time before I would venture onto a cruise ship.

  3. Becks1 says:

    I love cruising and Royal Caribbean is my go-to cruise line. But……it’s a no from me too. Require vaccinations! Or just give people incentives for them, at least at first – half-priced drink packages for those who are fully vaccinated, or a significant onboard credit for excursions etc. Something big enough where you aren’t “requiring” it* but you’re providing an incentive for it. Or give priority to people who are vaccinated – they get to board first, get to book excursions first, etc. I’m also hoping all the crew are vaccinated.

    *I have no problem if they are requiring it but my guess is they can’t as long as they are sailing from Florida.

    • Lisa says:

      I really find this interesting, since we sail Celebrity, which is an RCL line. Our vacation last fall was cancelled, and pushed out to this November. We were just informed that Celebrity will be sailing out of FTL starting in July, but 95% of the passengers vaccinated, and those that aren’t must be tested prior to boarding. I don’t understand how the 2 brands can be working under such a different model????

      • fluffy_bunny says:

        I also got that Celebrity email. Weird that the policy is not consistent across the corporation.

  4. JanetDR says:

    Wow. What a terrible idea!

  5. Sofia says:

    I was actually due to go on an RC cruise this summer (well last summer but pandemic). But yeah this doesn’t seem like a good idea. At the “minimum” they should require at least one vaccination dose if you’ve not got the J&J one (obviously 2 would be best).

    And just because on paper you’re not as risk from dying from COVID, it doesn’t mean you won’t in “real life”. Healthy 20 and 30 year olds have died from it or were on ventilators

  6. tempest prognosticator says:

    Death Wish Cruise

  7. SusieQ says:

    That attestation that you won’t get severely ill from Covid is ridiculous. Covid is a horror show of surprises. Perfectly healthy people die from it, while people with underlying conditions get through it ok. You just never know what you’re going to get with it.

    • Abby says:

      This. There’s no way to know if you’ll get it, and if you do, if it’ll be bad. This is a pointless safeguard.

      They should either require proof of vaccination or at BARE MINIMUM, a negative covid test within 24 hours of departure.

      I bet this is because they’re leaving from Florida.

    • lucy2 says:

      Exactly. It’s a highly contagious disease that has affected every age, race, gender, etc.
      “states that they are not at high risk for developing COVID”
      EVERYONE is at risk for developing Covid, there is no way for a doctor to know that, unless you are….vaccinated.

      I know the industry, and the ports they go to, have been really struggling, but one asymptomatic person could infect many on the ship, who then would get off the ship at various ports and infect many, many more in those areas.
      I’d be fine with them starting up for 100% vaccinated crew and guests.

  8. Watson says:

    I think the fuck not.

    Just imagine cruising and getting covid and being held hostage at a foreign port like thousands were last year. Lol. Hard pass!

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      I’m vaccinated and so is my entire family. I still double checked with my travel agent to make sure our home airports were correct in the booking system because if I’m repatriated I don’t want to end up stranded in NYC because for some reason my TA had us listed as being at JFK for our origination because she’s my MIL’s TA and they usually drive to JFK for cheaper air but they’ve moved to FL.

  9. Merricat says:

    I think I have seen this movie and it’s terrible. No cruises on the Death Ship for me; my neighbors keeling over onboard does not sound fun.

  10. square_bologna says:

    Yeah, that should work out just fine… 🤦‍♀️

  11. Darla says:

    Unbelievable. I wonder if this is evidence that their main clientele are old white magas? Well, they won’t be seeing me.

  12. Emily says:

    This article just sent me down a Google rabbithole because I was curious about what would happen if/when these idiots die of Covid at sea. Today I learned that cruise ships have morgues!

  13. Lala11_7 says:

    I had taken cruises OFF my list due to ALL the noro-virus outbreaks on different lines that was happening BEFORE Covid…Cruises cost too much to roll the dice on getting stomach ailments ON a cruise ship

    So HELL TO THE NAW regarding this!

    • Jensies says:

      SAME. And requiring just a personal statement that you’re not high risk for COVID to go? Is this a joke. We can’t do the honor system when half the country has proven they have no honor.

    • Celebitchy says:

      I got norovirus on a cruise about 18 years ago. It was awful and I was crying for my mom to help me even though I was grown.

      • nicegirl says:

        @cb it’s one of my worst nightmares, being very ill on a cruise ship. Norovirus hit a great friend of mine on a 10 day cruise and when I picked him up he’d lost 17 pounds and spent a week in hospital post trip. I’d be calling out for my momma too lady

      • Jensies says:

        Congrats, @CB, that’s my nightmare. That’s how I felt when I got food poisoning from tartar sauce from Long John Silver’s (…I know) a few years ago and had to go to the hospital after being violently ill for hours.

    • Susan says:

      There is a podcast I listen to and the host icalls cruise ships “the greyhound buses of the seas,” and I cackle at the snark…and the truth. Sorry not sorry, I am with you all, a cruise ship with strangers and being trapped and all that buffet food is my definition of one of the circles of hell.

  14. Aang says:

    Gross. I’ve never done a cruise and the norovirus stories made me vow never to set foot on one of those floating monstrosities. Covid just reinforced my horror. Add to that the environmental havoc they cause. Plus the cultural degradation faced by port communities. I’d be happy if cruise ships never sailed again.

  15. SurelyNot says:

    This is such a bad idea. I’m not sure where I stand on ‘requiring’ vaccinations for certain things because there are legitimately a percentage of the population that cannot get the vaccine for various reasons — saying sorry about your genetic luck or pre-existing conditions doesn’t sound right, but then I know there will be the functionally stupid who will use anything as an excuse not to get it.

    Cruise ships still a very bad idea because we don’t know the duration of efficacy for the vaccine.

    • Becks1 says:

      It is tricky, right, for that reason – that some people cannot get the vaccine, or maybe they “can” but they are worried about doing so because of a legitimate health issue. And that’s who herd immunity is supposed to protect, right? It kind of reminds me of the line from Goblet of Fire – how do you sort out the liars? (ie how do you sort out the ones who were under the imperio curse and the ones who are lying about it.) How do you sort out the ones who cannot get the vaccine or who just dont want to get it? And should we be able to do that or is that too much of a privacy invasion?

  16. Ladybug says:

    It’s wild that the Trump FDA head is working for Royal Caribbean. Like why would you want anyone associated with healthcare from that administration associated with your company?

  17. Stellainnh says:

    We were supposed to go on an Alaskan cruise with Royal Caribbean in July 2020. Since they are not requiring vaccinations for passengers, it will be a hard pass before I go on a cruise again.

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      Try another line. Celebrity is owned by the same corporation and they are requiring vaccines.

  18. LaraW” says:

    Natural selection at work. They should christen the first cruise boat as the Beagle, in honor of Darwin.

  19. Lindy says:

    I’ve never had any desire to go on a cruise. I like vacations that I plan myself, the ability to get off the beaten track, the autonomy to decide to change plans and do a different day-trip etc. The idea of being locked in a tiny room in a boat with thousands of strangers is basically the opposite of any travel I’d ever want to do, and previous stories about norovirus and legionnaires disease have cemented that for me. The floating Covid hell situations that took place at the start of the pandemic were horrifying.

    I cannot actually believe the cruise company is being this irresponsible. It’s disgusting to me, and if I were a port of call city I would think twice about allowing what could very well be a giant petri dish for Covid variant strains to let passengers off to visit.

    • Amelie says:

      Yes this. I truly do not understand people who love cruises and who book them years in advance. The idea of being stuck in proximity to thousands of strangers in a confined space, even if the boat is huge, is not appealing to me AT ALL. I already hate traveling on planes, I don’t see cruises to be worth it at all. And with all the norovirus outbreaks I’ve read about, we already knew they were the perfect vector for bacteria and germs. I was not interested in cruises before, I have zero interest in ever doing one for the rest of my life.

    • lucy2 says:

      I’ve done a few with my family, as it’s the only way we could get my dad to travel. There were some good things – I got to see a lot of really cool places I would never have gotten to otherwise, my family was able to go together, and we usually upgraded to a nicer room with a balcony and a little more space. The best one I ever did was me, my parents, and bunch of old people, almost no kids, all the common areas weren’t crowded or loud, and I had my own cabin.
      But that was many years ago, and the more I’ve learned about the workers’ conditions and the environmental impact – no thanks. Plus there were more and more reports of norovirus, and then the nightmare of Covid. I don’t want to be close around strangers anytime soon.

  20. Willow says:

    No vaccinations required? This is criminal. And these are CDC guidelines? I wish I could say I was surprised.

  21. Bren says:

    I’ve gone on several cruises through the years – my last one in 2018 – and I’m just about done with them. I don’t see myself cruising again.

  22. Alexandria says:

    My country allowed cruising to nowhere many months ago but with strict regulations. You need negative swab tests and this is done at the cruise centre before boarding. You can only remove the mask at the pool and while eating. The pool needs to be reserved in advance. Capacity was very much reduced. Buffets are served by staff only. So far it’s working because there is no cruise clusters. In the entire country we have to wear masks outside the home anyway.

    Regulations have become stricter because of a recent wave. So now cruises are restricted to two pax only and food is served to individual cabins since no dine in is allowed. Many cancelled their cruises and staycations but I guess we have no choice.

  23. TigerMcQueen says:

    Not a fan of cruising, so this has no personal bearing on me. BUT, it’s criminal, IMO, and stupid.

    I’m just making a few guesses here, but it seems to me like the people who will risk this will naturally be people who don’t want to vaccinate (for mostly political reasons) in the first place (aka, my older, MAGA relatives). So put a bunch of older, un-vaccinated people on a cruise, what could go wrong??? Just a matter of time before you get a ship with an massive outbreak where people start dying, so no thanks.

  24. Bonsai Mountain says:

    What about port cities, especially developing countries that are struggling with covid and may not have the capacity to deal with an outbreak caused by tourists wandering around? I hope they ban Royal Caribbean, this is so irresponsible.

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      I’m not sure about RC but other lines are doing ship only excursions that allow zero contact with the general public. If you don’t do a ship sponsored excursion you can’t get off the ship.

    • Alexandria says:

      For my country, RC and Dream Cruise cannot stop at any other port. They can only return to my country port i.e. cruise to nowhere. It is really sad to see blank on the shore excursions screen but it is what it is. I would not want to cruise to another port unless everyone has been vaccinated at least and even then I will wear mask everywhere. And even so, I will still think twice. I think overseas travel is still far off, at least for me.

      I understand why my country allowed cruising to nowhere. Our domestic travel is very very small. But the US is huge so I don’t really understand.

  25. Tourmaline says:

    The amount of time and effort the CDC spent in February and March of 2020 trying to extricate people off outbreak cruises was massive. It probably contributed to a slower response to the pandemic overall and provided a big incubator to disperse covid across the country. The first case identified in my state was from a RC cruise! The fact that highly effective vaccines exist but they are still going down this path is maddening. Countdown to next outbreak drama on a cruise in 10, 9, 8…

  26. L4Frimaire says:

    I like cruises and actually had one planned before it was canceled last year. However, this seems premature and irresponsible. Before the pandemic, cruises had a bad reputation for spreading Norovirus. Two of the most notorious Covid outbreaks during the early days of the pandemic took place on cruise ships. Not requiring vaccines is ridiculous and no excuse. There was just an outbreak on a ship in Europe that was leaving the shipyard to go across the Atlantic because some of the crew wasn’t vaccinated. Also the ignorant governor of Florida doesn’t want people having to show proof of vaccines before getting on cruises. Vaccines are not hard to get in this country now, operating at 10% capacity is not profitable and it makes no sense right now to not require vaccines.

  27. Turtledove says:

    I see headlines like this and they make me feel like maybe Covid *IS* a hoax. (Ok, not really- but hear me out)

    How on earth can the CDC say it is ok for cruises of all things to start up and vaccinations aren’t required? Cruise ships had some of the most horrific Covid situations we heard of through this whole pandemic. I swear, this sounds like a complete joke, except it is not funny it is terrifying.

    I felt a similar sense of “this can’t really be happening” when I heard the CDC said it was ok for fully baccinated people to drop the masks. All I could think was “but what stops the anti-vaxxers from not wearing one and saying they are vaccinated?”

    i just don’t understand how we went from taking all the precautions to let’s allow cruises and vaccines aren’t neccessary in what feels like the blink of an eye. As everyone else has sad, criuise ships are petri dishes and have proven to facilitated massive outbreaks of other things like norovirus etc. I GET allowing these industries to come back as we do need our economy to function, but there are so many safer ways to do it. This is insane.

  28. Mel says:

    Cruises on a good day are nothing but traveling petri dishes, this is turning them into super spreaders. It’s a no from me.

    • AmB says:

      My sentiments exactly.

      “Welcome to XXX Cruise Lines! Your Floating Petri Dish – now with Coronavirus!”

  29. nicegirl says:

    I’m with Oya, not gonna do it.

    It’s not prudent at this juncture, maybe? SMH

  30. Pamuk says:

    Imagine boarding a boat with a bunch of unvaxed strangers, nope not me.

  31. paranormalgirl says:

    I’ve gone on a few cruises and really enjoyed them, but nope. No. Nopers. That’s a no for me dawg.

  32. Leah says:

    Yeah, obviously they’ve never seen “The last cruise”. Diamond Princess anyone?

    Anything for the bottom line…rolls eyes.

  33. Queen Anne says:

    No way would I step on a ship where there weren’t mandatory passports for all passengers and crew. COVID has not miraculously ended!

  34. Case says:

    I’ve never been on a cruise. I always thought it sounded fun to maybe go on a Disney cruise but I could never get past the stories of all the passengers on cruises getting violently ill with stomach viruses, food poisoning, etc. So now I ABSOLUTELY would not go on one, especially if vaccinations aren’t required.

    • Becks1 says:

      Disney has a really good track record with those things, if it makes you feel better. I think they are one of the few cruise lines that has never had an outbreak of norovirus.

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      Disney is full of free range children who’s parent let them run around the dining room screaming and crawling under tables. I love cruises and Disney but I refuse to do any Disney cruises after trying one. And they’re like double the price of other high end lines just because they are Disney.

  35. Midge says:

    I’m trying to understand the risk benefit analysis on this. Did they figure most of their customers are anti vax? Otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

  36. sassafras says:

    I will go on one if they send Ron de Santis, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, the whole of the NRA, Marjorie Taylor Greene and her very best friends from Congress and a whole bunch of non-vaccinated Karens for the first ten cruises.

  37. Steph says:

    This is messy. I knew this was happening but I was told it would be at a 90% vaccination rate.

  38. Duchess of Corolla says:

    Maybe I am a bit of a grump, but I have always loathed cruise ships. Gigantic, waste-producing, ocean-polluting, floating petri dishes. Ocean-bound bastions of all the worst of western “culture.” I wouldn’t have set foot on one before…who wants norovirus? Ugh, the idea of being pent up with coronavirus is even worse.

    Hasn’t anyone learned anything about viruses from the pandemic? I guess not. And, of course, there is money to be made, and that trumps common sense always.

    Oy. Enough of my rant. Suffice it to say, I think this is irresponsible and insane.

  39. Robyn says:

    Yikes. I remember quarantined cruise ships like it was LAST YEAR. It’s a no for me on disease barges, unlimited cheese or not.

    • L4frimaire says:

      I would not want to be on a cruise with the type of people who don’t want to be vaccinated and think Covid is completely gone. Would be like a Q/ anti-vaxxer cruise. No thanks.

  40. Kkat says:

    I love cruises but you WILL NOT get me on a floating barge of death

    I would be more likely to do a all inclusive resort, but even that I won’t be doing for a long time

    I’m fully vaccinated 🎉 but I won’t even eat indoors at a restaurant yet.

    This pandemic is far from over

  41. Dierski says:

    gross, yeah its a no for me too dawg.

  42. Barbiem says:

    I understand business needs to open back up. But this seems like a recipe for disaster. Count me out even with a mask on, im going to give it a little while longer