NEWS/UPDATE: Royal Caribbean has received approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to operate test cruises with volunteers from June 20 to 22 on the Freedom of the Seas which is expected to sail from Miami.
The line created a group on Facebook called “Volunteers of the Seas” with this Cruise Simulation form for you to fill out with your personal contact information (name, number, email and size of your group), as well as promoted the request for volunteers on their other social media channels.
The cruise tests are intended “to replicate real world onboard conditions of cruising.” Any volunteers must be 18 years or older and have written documentation from their healthcare provider certifying that they have no pre-existing medical conditions that would place them at high-risk for COVID-19.
These simulated voyages would likely include test runs for seven situations:
- Embarkation and Disembarkation procedures, including terminal check-in;
- Onboard activities, including dining and entertainment venues;
- Testing of private island shore excursions, if any are planned during restricted passenger voyages;
- Evacuation procedures (muster drill)
- Transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew from cabins to isolation rooms
- Quarantining of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew;
- Any other activities as the CDC sees fit.
Constant testing will take place, as well as procedures so protocols can be practised. While some voyages may be “cruises to nowhere” others may visit their private island such as Perfect Day at CocoCay to also test shore excursion-type protocols. Quarantine and cabin confinement testing will also be included.
The CDC framework also requires volunteers are informed in writing that they are “participating in a simulation of unproven and untested health and safety protocols” and “that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity.” It is unknown whether these will be free or purchased cruises.
Royal Caribbean spokesperson Jonathan Fishman reported in 2020 that, “Royal Caribbean has some of the most loyal guests in the cruise industry, and we have been overjoyed with their interest to take part in our simulated trial sailings.”