Two of the world's largest cruise ships have gotten approval to start test cruises.
Royal Caribbean confirmed on Thursday Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas have received permission from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to start test cruises.
These two ships the second and third Royal Caribbean International ship to get approval for test cruises, following Freedom of the Seas.
Both ships are the first Oasis Class ships to get test cruise approval, and are the largest ships to date with approval from the CDC to conduct simulated voyages.
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed the news on Facebook, along with sail dates.
Allure of the Seas will start her testr cruises from Port Canaveral on July 27 to July 29.
Symphony of the Seas will conduct her test sailings from PortMiami on August 1 through August 3.
"Yippee," Mr. Bayley added with the news. "Just got approval from the CDC for our simulated sailings."
Royal Caribbean issued a statement confirming what Mr. Bayley posted, "We are encouraged to see our ongoing work with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to progress on all fronts. Allure and Symphony of the Seas, two of the world’s largest cruise ships, are the latest in Royal Caribbean International’s fleet to be approved for simulation cruises. The ships will follow Freedom of the Seas and embark on their simulation sailings on July 27 and August 1, respectively. "
Simulated voyages (also known as test cruises) are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new protocols work.
These are not cruises you can book, but rather, are limited voyages where a cruise line invites certain unpaid volunteers to help go through all the necessary steps and procedures to ensure cruise ships can be run safely.
Each cruise ship needs to be approved by the CDC in order to conduct test cruises.
During these test cruises, Royal Caribbean will go through a variety of scenarios to prove to the CDC that the ship can conduct sailings in a safe manner. Specifically, the new protocols aimed at preventing Covid-19 from getting onboard the ship are at the heart of these dry runs.
Each ship must conduct at least one simulated cruise, and each voyage must be between 2-7 days in length with a least one overnight stay, including through embarkation, disembarkation, and post-disembarkation testing.
According to the CDC, passengers and crew must meet standards during the simulated voyage for hand hygiene, use of face masks, and social distancing for passengers and crew, as well as ship sanitation.
Royal Caribbean must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.