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Volunteers will set sail on Royal Caribbean 'trial voyage'

For the first time since COVID-19, the CDC gave Royal Caribbean the green light to conduct a simulated voyage in the US.


Royal Caribbean International will embark on the first CDC-approved test cruise in June. The trial voyage is one of the first steps cruise lines need to take before allowing paying passengers to travel through US waters. 

The cruise received CDC approval on May 25, according to a post Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley shared on Facebook, and will leave from Miami. After the CDC's No Sail Order was lifted in October -- which has restricted cruises through US waters since March 2020 -- the agency issued new guidance in May for cruise lines to resume business, including conducting test cruises with volunteers in order to obtain a Conditional Sailing Certificate. Then, cruise lines may welcome passengers aboard for restricted trips. 

"CDC has provisionally approved one cruise ship from Royal Caribbean to begin simulated voyages in June, following a request to conduct a simulated voyage and the submission of an accurate and complete port agreement," a CDC spokesperson told USA Today.

Volunteers on the Royal Caribbean simulation cruise must meet requirements set by the CDC, including being at least 18 years old and informed of the risks of setting sail on a test cruise during a pandemic. Volunteers may or may not be vaccinated against COVID-19. If they aren't vaccinated, they'll have to self-certify that they aren't at risk of critical illness due to COVID-19, or give documentation from a healthcare provider. (Cruise lines that can certify that at least 95% of all passengers will be vaccinated are allowed to skip the test cruise requirement, per the CDC.)

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Those setting sail on Royal Caribbean's test cruise will be given the full cruise experience and be on board for two to seven days. According to the agency, test cruises must include (among other things) "onboard activities" including dining and entertainment activities; spa, gym or other services the cruise line "intends to offer as part of any restricted passenger voyage;" private island shore excursions (if applicable); "medical evacuation procedures" and isolation of crew members or passengers who test positive for COVID-19. 

Royal Caribbean International, like many other cruise lines, has stated that once operational, it will require all passengers age 12 and up to be fully vaccinated if boarding after August 1. 

If more than 1% of Royal Caribbean's crew or more than 1.5% of passengers aboard the test cruise test positive for COVID-19, the cruise must end, the Miami Herald reported

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.