The cruise industry may be finally ready to set sail again. Royal Caribbean International is officially the first cruise line to receive approval from the Center for Disease Control to begin test cruises again this summer. Sign us up!
It won't look like your traditional cruise though. Starting in June, Royal Caribbean can begin simulation cruises with volunteer cruise passengers from its Miami, Florida port. This will mark the first cruise ship to depart from a US port since March 2020 when most travels were halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
So how will this simulation work? According to the CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, test cruises can only carry 10% of their total passenger capacity and all meals, entertainment, and excursions will require social distancing.
After 15 months of hard work and collaboration, @RoyalCaribbean has received CDC approval for simulated cruises on #FreedomoftheSeas in June. This is the latest promising step to return to sailing in the U.S. We look forward to seeing our crew and loyal guests this summer. 🚢May 25, 2021
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For passengers who volunteer, you are not required to be vaccinated, but if you are unvaccinated and decide to take part in the simulation, you will have to provide written documentation from a health care provider or you must give a personal statement stating you're not at high risk for developing a severe infection if exposed to Covid-19.
You'll also have to agree to be evaluated for Covid-19 symptoms before embarking and disembarking from the cruise. This will also include receiving a Covid-19 test up to five days after the completion of the cruise too.
Now that travel has begun to pick up again, the cruise line cannot wait to begin the simulations as it will mark one of the first steps toward returning to normal capacity, if successful.
"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 US," Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley said in an official statement issued to PEOPLE. "We look forward to welcoming our crew, loyal guests, and supporters from around the world this summer."
The CDC has also been working alongside cruise lines to help bring the industry as it was one of the most hard hit industry during the pandemic.
"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 (CSO)," CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey told PEOPLE. "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 mid-summer."
Now that COVID-19 vaccines have begun rolling out globally, countries around the world have begun easing its travel restrictions, with some areas, like Europe making plans to reopen this summer. Not all countries have a universal date they will allow tourists to enter, but countries like France are planning for early June.
If you're planning on traveling this summer make sure to check the requirements the country (or state if you're going to the U.S.) has as each place has different health and safety requirements.
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