CDC approves Royal Caribbean test cruises to set sail in June

Posted at 5:00 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 17:00:54-04

An approval by the CDC made a significant step forward for the cruise industry. The CDC gave its first green light for test cruises to Royal Caribbean with volunteer passengers.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley shared a letter Wednesday on Facebook saying in part quote “After 15 months and so much work by so many during very challenging times," he said. "To 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!”

"It’s going to be a great practice run for the employees, the guests, for everybody," said director of the cruise industry at Brickell Travel, Gus Machado.

Macahdo said the simulated cruises with volunteer passengers are expected to start late June from PortMiami.

"June 20th they're going to do a two day test. These are people that are volunteering to get to get on the cruise, test it out so the CDC can examine how it goes," said Machado.

Under a conditional sail order released by the CDC, cruise companies had to enhance COVID-19 testing capabilities on their ships. Royal Caribbean group being the first company to have its port and local health agreements approved.

A Facebook group called “Volunteers of the Sea” shows more than 250,000 people have volunteered to take part in the process of sailing again. Many members reacting to the latest news, including Tara Smith.

"I’m a Floridian so for me this is near and dear. I’ve been cruising since I've been a little girl and all the way through my adult years," said Smith.

Smith said the application process is easy and she’s just waiting to hear back.

"I know how important it is for our community, as well for the folks who work on the boats. I know a lot people rely on their income, so to not have that for as long as they’ve had, that must've been very detrimental to their families. So I'm really excited for those people to re-engage into their jobs and bring that back into the community of Florida," said Smith.

According to the CDC, volunteer passengers must be 18 or older and either have to be fully vaccinated. For those who aren’t vaccinated have to test negative and confirm that they are not at high-risk.

Desantis sued the CDC last month, asking a judge to force the agency to drop its cruise safety requirements and allow cruises to begin immediately. The judge instead sent the case to mediation. A decision is expected to be announced next week.