The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday gave approval for Royal Caribbean to begin simulated cruises in late June using volunteer passengers sailing from Port Miami.
The Miami Herald was first to report Royal Caribbean, which is based in Miami, had become the first cruise line to get the green light on its proposal, allowing it to move into the testing phase.
Michael Bayley, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, confirmed the news on Facebook – posting the CDC letter that revealed the voyage would be June 20-22 on the Freedom of the Seas ship.
For more than a year, the pandemic has halted sailings from the United States. And, such tests are required before cruises can resume.
Royal Caribbean is the world's second-largest cruise line.
"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," Bayley wrote on Facebook.
The CDC requirements say cruise ship operators must request approval for simulated voyages at least 30 days before the test runs. The request must include documentation proving the cruise line has written agreements with all U.S. ports and health authorities in places where the ship intends to dock during the simulated travel.
The CDC can deny requests if it determines any test voyages don't provide "adequate safeguards to minimize the risk of COVID-19 for all participants."
Passengers are not required to be vaccinated for test sailings, USA TODAY reports, based on the CDC's framework. Passengers will be checked for symptoms before boarding.
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