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Royal Caribbean International submitted their plan to begin conducting test cruises to the CDC; taking a step towards resuming U.S. cruises.
Royal Caribbean Plan for Resuming US Cruises
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed that the first such plan has been sent to the CDC for approval, so that the cruise line can begin simulated voyages.
Posting on Facebook, Mr. Bayley jumped on a wave of optimism sweeping through the cruise industry as of late, by announcing Royal Caribbean taking its next major step.
Mr. Bayley did not specify which port or ship was part of the application.
The simulated voyages are the test sailings mandated by the CDC in order to receive permission for a cruise ship to sail from the United States.
Under the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), cruise lines must first get an agreement with each port for the health and safety of crew, passengers, and port personnel.
So far, Royal Caribbean has secured port agreements with at least two ports: Port Canaveral and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale). Others port agreements may be in place as well, but it has not been publicly divulged.
With the application sent, the CDC says it will respond to submissions within 5 business days. According to the CDC, it expects to quickly approve applications that are both complete and accurate.
Will Vaccines Be Required for Cruisers?
CDC may deny the request to conduct a simulated voyage if the cruise ship operator is not in compliance with any of CDC’s requirements for the mitigation of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships, technical instructions, or orders, or if in CDC’s determination the simulated voyage does not provide adequate safeguards to minimize the risk of COVID-19 for all participants. CDC may also oversee and inspect any aspect of the simulated voyage, including through in-person or remote means allowing for visual observation.
Simulated sailings will need to meet CDC expectations for certification, which includes a variety of protocols, drills, and simulations all aimed at ensuring the ships can be operated safely and respond to any health need onboard.
Royal Caribbean announced that they will require proof of COVID vaccinations for passengers 16 and up for cruises departing on or before August 1, 2021 from cruises sailing out of the Bahamas or the US. All cruise passengers over 12 must submit proof of COVID vaccinations on cruises departing after August 1, 2021 from cruises sailing out of the Bahamas or the US.
So far, at least 200,000 people have signed up to be a volunteer on a test cruise.
Royal Caribbean has also been hard at work getting crew members vaccinated by bringing its ships into American ports to get inoculated.
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Would you volunteer for a test cruise voyage when they become available? Let us know in the comments.