Royal Caribbean cleared to begin test cruises in June, becoming the first company to do so


Top line

The Royal Caribbean Group will be allowed to restart cruises departing from the United States with limited capacity from June, making the company the first to obtain CDC approval to enter a test phase in the hope of resume full navigation.

Highlights

The company will be able to begin hosting mock cruises with volunteer passengers on its PortMiami-based ship Freedom of the Seas from June 20, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a letter to the president of Royal Caribbean. , Michael Bayley.

The cruises will be the first from a U.S. port since March 2020, when coronavirus closures began in the United States.

CDC guidelines call for simulated cruises of at least three days and two nights, with at least 10% of normal passenger capacity and social distancing required during meals, entertainment and excursions to best replicate a cruise normal.

The CDC also requires passengers to present full proof of vaccination or a statement that they are not at high risk of developing a serious Covid infection.

Royal Caribbean says on its website that all passengers 16 and over will need to show proof of vaccination.

What we don’t know

It is unclear how the vaccination requirements, for mock cruises or otherwise, will be enforced in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) last month signed an executive order prohibiting businesses and state government agencies from requiring proof of vaccination, also known as a vaccination passport.

What to watch out for

Ships are required to provide an assessment and report any deficiencies after a simulated cruise, in which case they may apply for a conditional navigation certificate. If granted, which will come ship by ship, this will allow a restart of large passenger cruises. But cruise lines aren’t waiting for final approval when it comes to the booking process, with all major cruise lines accepting travel bookings this year.

Key context

Cruises have not taken place from U.S. ports since March 14, 2020, after cruises became one of the country’s first hotspots for coronaviruses. The cruise industry then became one of the hardest hit sectors of the US economy. But stock prices have rallied steadily over the past year, even as cruise lines have suffered billions in losses. Tuesday was a particularly good day for major cruise lines, with Carnival shares rising over 2.4%, while shares of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line both rose over 3.5%. %.

Tangent

Outside the United States, cruises are expected to resume in a few weeks from popular destinations like Greece and the Caribbean.

Further reading

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bans passports for vaccines amid GOP rejection (Forbes)

Cruise lines can apply to sail with volunteer passengers following new guidelines from the CDC (Orlando Sentinel)

Royal Caribbean gets first green light from CDC for test cruises from Miami in July (Miami Herald)

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