After more than a year of waiting, it finally looks like the cruise industry is about to be back to normal. Royal Caribbean International became the first cruise operator to receive approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to start sailing test cruises from U.S. ports.
In a statement, CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey explained that her organization was working closely with senior cruise executives and that the industry has a plan in place to resume operation safely.
“CDC is committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising following the phased approach outlined in the CSO,” she said. “Over the past month, senior leadership from CDC have met multiple times a week with cruise line senior executives to discuss the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order. During these meetings, participants asked questions and discussed the fastest path back to sailing without compromising safety. CDC and the cruise industry agree that the industry has what it needs to move forward and no additional roadblocks exist for resuming sailing by midsummer.”
Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley announced his excitement on Facebook, posting the letter of approval from the CDC and offering the following statement:
“After 15 months and so much work by so many during very challenging times. To all our colleagues, loyal guests and supporters all over the world I am proud and pleased to share some bright and wonderful news ! Boom ! Onwards and upwards team !” he wrote in the post.
Freedom of the Seas Test Cruises
The first ship to undergo the test cruises will be Freedom of the Seas from June 20th to the 22nd. The ship is currently waiting alongside a number of other ships at the Stirrup Cay Anchorage in the Bahamas. The ship will sail the first test cruise from PortMiami.
Vaccinations will not be required when the test cruise sails, but Royal Caribbean International and its sister brand Celebrity Cruises will require all passengers over the age of 16 to provide proof of vaccination once revenue cruises begin later this summer. Starting August 1st, the vaccine requirement age will drop from 16 to all passengers age 12 and older.
Are you signing up for test cruises? Let us know in the comments!