More than 100,000 people have signed up to take part in Royal Caribbean’s test sailings just days after the cruise line put out a call for volunteers.
The cruise line, which plans to run simulated trial sailings as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s requirements to begin "phased resumption" of sailing asked eager cruisers to fill out a form online to show their interest, which Royal Caribbean set up alongside its "Volunteers of the Seas” Facebook group last week.
“And just like that…100,000 people have volunteered. We can’t wait to start this next phase with you all!” Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean’s president and CEO, wrote on Facebook.
These simulated sailings may look like a typical cruise on the surface (including testing out shore excursions on private islands), but will also include COVID-19 quarantine drills as well as standard muster drills, Cruise Critic reported.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and show a medical certificate, Royal Caribbean confirmed to Travel + Leisure.
When ocean cruising does return to U.S., it will come with a stringent set of protocols in place, including requiring all passengers be tested before embarking.
But it was not immediately clear when these trial cruises will take place and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, has extended its voluntary suspension of cruise operations in the U.S. through Dec. 31. That came as several lines cancelled their own itineraries for this year with some extending the suspension into 2021.
One cruise line, the SeaDream Yacht Club, did attempt to resume sailings to the Caribbean earlier this month, but was stymied by an outbreak of COVID-19 in the middle of the cruise. The ship was forced to return to Barbados with seven guests and two crew members testing positive.
Passengers who tested negative were allowed to fly home and the company has since canceled its sailings for the rest of 2020.
“Multiple negative PCR tests were required before the guests boarded, but this was not sufficient to prevent Covid-19 onboard,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. “SeaDream successfully operated more than 20 sailings during the pandemic without any cases and… further improvements were made to protocols before the Barbados season. The company will now spend time to evaluate and see if it is possible to operate and have a high degree of certainty of not getting Covid.”
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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