MIAMI (WFLA) – Royal Caribbean will be allowed to operate test cruises out of Florida starting in July after receiving approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Volunteer passengers will be sailing on the company’s Freedom of the Seas ship for the simulated cruises out of PortMiami, the Miami Herald reported.
The simulated cruises are being done to test whether ships can sail safely and follow CDC guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Under the CDC guidelines, each practice cruise will run two to seven days and must have enough passengers to meet at least 10% of the ship’s capacity. Volunteers must be 18 or older and either fully vaccinated or free of medical conditions that would put them at high risk for severe COVID-19.
The ship operator must tell passengers that they are simulating untested safety measures “and that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity,” the CDC guidelines state.
Passengers must be examined for COVID-19 symptoms before and after the trip, and at least 75% must be tested at the end.
Ships must make at least one practice run before resuming regular cruises in U.S. waters, although operators will be able to avoid the requirement if they vouch that 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated, the CDC said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in April that the state would be filing a lawsuit against the CDC and the federal government demanding the reopening of the cruise industry. The suit is in mediation and expected to be settled next month.
Royal Caribbean International announced in March the cruise line will restart cruises beginning in June and will require all adult passengers to be vaccinated.