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Carnival plans to run test cruises from Galveston

25 May 2021
Matt Hochberg

Carnival Cruise Line appears to be ready to start the first of its test cruises in a matter of weeks.

During a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Galveston Wharves, the Port of Galveston said Carnival plans to run its test cruises from the port, although no exact date was set.

The Galveston County Daily News reports Carnival has informed the port of its plans.

According to the report, the Port of Galveston and local health officials say they are close to signing a port agreement with the State of Texas.  Royal Caribbean recently signed similar agreements with Port Canaveral and Port Everglades.

It also appears that Carnival will follow Royal Caribbean's plan to not make the optional 95% vaccinated cruise ship passenger mandate in order to skip test cruises.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave cruise lines the choice of going through the test cruise option outlined in the Conditional Sail Order (CSO), or skip them if they can reach 98% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said yesterday in a video update that Royal Caribbean International cannot meet that goal of 95% vaccinated passengers because of all the families with young children who go on a cruise. 

The Port of Galveston was told by Carnival's President that standard would be difficult, since vaccinations aren't yet available for children under 12 . That's a significant portion of their normal customer base.

Royal Caribbean is also planning to start test cruises soon, although the location nor the ship to be used has been shared publicly. 

Royal Caribbean applied to be able to start at least one test cruise last week, and the cruise line expects that authorization to be granted "shortly".

The simulated voyages are the test sailings mandated by the CDC in order to receive permission for a cruise ship to sail from the United States.

Under the CDC's Framework for Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), cruise lines must first get an agreement with each port for the health and safety of crew, passengers and port personnel.

Test cruises are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new protocols work.