Following months of pandemic-induced inactivity, the ball is finally rolling in the cruise industry, with several cruise lines no doubt a flurry of activity behind the scenes as they race to get ready for a summer of sailing.
Following the CDC’s announcements about restarting and simulated “test” cruises, cruise lines now have the opportunity to get boats back in US waters – and Royal Caribbean is taking the opportunity with both hands, submitting an application for test cruises in the last week. Here’s what we know about the situation, and other updates from the cruise industry giants.
Test Cruise Application – Information For Travelers
At the start of this month, the CDC issued a series of guidelines containing instructions for cruise lines on how to successfully apply for a simulated (trial) voyage, clarifying previous announcements made by the institution. The guidance was designed to make it easier for cruises to submit their applications for test cruises – and that is exactly what Royal Caribbean has done this week.
Simulated cruises are a necessary step that cruise lines must take before they are able to offer revenue cruises to passengers. Cruise lines must submit an application for a simulated cruise then, once that particular cruise has gone ahead, they must produce a report for the CDC in order to verify that no issues occurred during the cruise.
The CEO of Royal Caribbean, Michael Bayley, confirmed that the cruise line had submitted an application for simulated cruises to go ahead. Writing on Facebook, he said:
“Royal Caribbean submitted the first of several port/health plans to the CDC which are required to receive approval for the simulated voyages which are required to precede approval for regular cruises.”
Whilst Bayley did not confirm which port or ship the first plan included in his post, the move is undoubtedly a positive step towards more regular sailings offered by Royal Caribbean in the coming months.
There have been some clues as to which port the company will sail from. Last week, it was revealed that the cruise lane had secured a port agreement with Port Canaveral in Florida, one of the busiest ports in the world. The agreement has been submitted to the Florida Department of Health, which will forward it to the CDC once it has been signed off. However, Royal Caribbean could also skip the simulated testing phase altogether by ensuring that 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
Vaccinated Only? Information For Travelers
Despite Royal Caribbean going through the effort of organizing simulated cruises last week, it may all count for nothing if the cruise line opts instead for the fully-vaccinated passengers route – as comments made by CEO and Chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Richard Fain, seem to suggest.
Speaking to the BBC, Fain said that he expected “all of our guests who are eligible for a vaccine to have it,” adding that it was the objective of Royal Caribbean to make “cruising safer than in your home community”. Whilst it may provide a safe experience for guests and would see a return to sailing without the need for any test cruise to go ahead, the news is bound to be a shock for cruising enthusiasts who have not been vaccinated yet, or who will not receive the vaccine for whatever reason.
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