Would You Go on a Royal Caribbean Test Cruise?

The cruise line has received CDC approval to launch a two-day "test cruise"

Freedom of the Seas

Courtesy of Freedom of the Seas

Guess who's back, back again—cruising's back, tell a friend! Royal Caribbean has officially received approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch a "test cruise" next month to ensure its onboard COVID-19 protocols are up to par. If all goes well, the cruise line will be free to start up U.S. operations once more.

"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!" wrote Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean Cruises president and CEO, in a Facebook post. "Boom! Onwards and upwards team!"

Such test cruises are a CDC requirement for cruise lines looking to operate in U.S. waters between now and Oct. 31, 2021, if they want to open their sailings to non-vaccinated passengers widely. If a cruise line mandates that 95 percent of their passengers and 98 percent of their crew need to be vaccinated, however, the CDC states they're exempt from this requirement.

Royal Caribbean's "simulated" sailing will be a two-night itinerary on the nearly 4,000-passenger Freedom of the Seas, departing from Miami. It'll be a "cruise-to-nowhere," meaning it won't make port during the sailing—the primary goal here is to test COVID-19 safety measures, not take passengers on vacation.

That said, the sailing is actually free of charge for passengers, so you could make a little getaway for yourself if you're willing to be a guinea pig. Interested parties can throw their name in the hat here, but beware, the odds are slim! As of Feb. 2, more than 250,000 people had already applied to become test-sailing volunteers with Royal Caribbean.

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