HomeTravelCDC clears Royal Caribbean for test sailing in US waters
CDC clears Royal Caribbean for test sailing in US waters
May 26, 2021
Royal Caribbean can hit the high seas again — after the cruise liner was given approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for one of its ships to do a test sail with volunteer passengers.
It will be the first known cruise to set sail in US waters since the pandemic brought the industry to a standstill over a year ago.
Michael Bayley, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, announced the news Tuesday on social media, where he posted the letter from the CDC.
“After 15 months and so much work by so many during very challenging times,” he wrote alongside the approval notice.
“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!”
Royal’s Freedom of the Seas ship will be allowed to sail next month with volunteer passengers on a “simulated voyage” as part of the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which replaced its previous No Sail Order in October.
All volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, and passengers don’t need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, all onboard must agree to be evaluated for COVID-19 symptoms before and after embarking — and to be tested for COVID-19 up to five days after the cruise, according to the CDC.
“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 spokesman Benjamin Haynes said in a statement.
“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.”
Shares of Royal Caribbean were up three percent Wednesday morning on the back of the news. Shares of rivals Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line were up about two percent.
The federal restrictions on cruise lines have recently garnered criticism — particularly from Florida where cruise travel is a key industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to the state’s cruise lobby.