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Royal Caribbean releases health protocols for first U.S. cruise ship sailing

In:
17Jun2021

Royal Caribbean has announced to guests booked on its first cruise ship to restart cruises from the U.S. what health protocols and requirements they can expect.

Currently, this information only pertains to Freedom of the Seas sailings out of Miami in July 2021.

Freedom of the Seas will restart cruises from Miami with short sailings to The Bahamas.

The new protocols cover vaccinations, testing, masks and more.

Vaccines

As previously stated, Royal Caribbean recommends all guests 16 and older be fully vaccinated.

At check-in, guests will be asked to provide documentation of their vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Those who are 16 and older and do not have or are unable to provide documentation will be considered unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated guests must undergo additional COVID-19 testing at their own expense, and follow the health protocols described below, which are based on guidance from the CDC.

Someone that does not wish to undergo or pay for additional testing, or adhere to these health and safety protocols, can ask for a refund.

Testing

All unvaccinated guests must undergo multiple COVID-19 tests.

Testing at the terminal prior to embarkation and onboard prior to disembarkation will be conducted by licensed and accredited third-party testing providers we have contracted.

Unvaccinated guests must register for this testing and agree to the third-party testing provider terms and conditions. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

The total charge from the third-party testing vendor for these tests is $136. This amount will be applied to the guest’s onboard expense account.

Royal Caribbean will pay the testing vendor(s) on the guest’s behalf and will not retain any part of the testing costs.

For children not yet eligible to be vaccinated, we will cover the cost of any required testing.

Here are the testing requirements for unvaccinated guests during the cruise:

Pre-Cruise  

Unvaccinated guests 16 years of age and older will need to undergo an RT-PCR test administered by an accredited laboratory of the guest’s choice, and taken within three days of sailing.

Royal Caribbean will require documentation of a negative result for this test prior to embarkation. All costs for this test are the unvaccinated guest’s responsibility.

At the Terminal  

Unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older are required to take an RT-PCR test when checking in at the terminal, which will be administered by one of our testing vendors. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Prior to Disembarking  

While onboard, unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older will be required to undergo antigen testing within 24 hours of disembarking at the end of the voyage.

This test will be conducted the day before the cruise ends by one of our testing vendors. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.

Face Masks

Unlike Adventure of the Seas from The Bahamas, face masks will be required by guests in certain situations onboard.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks indoors unless:

  • Seated and actively eating or drinking
  • Masks are not required in your stateroom when you are with your traveling party, outdoors, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting
  • Guests under the age of 2 do not need to wear a mask

Royal Caribbean said they are expecting updated guidance from the CDC on mask policies for vaccinated guests and will provide an update.

Vaccinated venues

Royal Caribbean will designate certain venues (bars, lounges, restaurants and entertainment) or events as only for vaccinated guests only. At those locations, masks wont be required.

Your SeaPass card will be required to access lounges, shows and dining venues.

Vaccinated guests will receive a wristband and those who are unvaccinated (or choose not to disclose if they are) will have a hole punched in their SeaPass card.

For unvaccinated guests, there will still be entertainment and options open to them, but there will be some options, such as late night entertainment, for vaccinated guests.  

Select showtimes will be for vaccinated guests and others for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.

In the Main Dining Room, there will be designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated reservations to dine separately.

My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests. 

Physical Distancing

Venues will be set up with proper spacing and Royal Caribbean asks guests to abide by physical distancing, especially when interacting with those outside of your traveling party.

Shore Excursions

All guests are subject to restrictions and requirements as defined by local authorities in the ports we visit. Details will be provided onboard.

According to the cruise line, it is reasonable to expect that unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests. 

Full protocols

Here is the letter Royal Caribbean has sent to its guests booked on the ship.

Royal Caribbean delays Odyssey of the Seas inaugural sailing from U.S. due to Covid-19 among crew members

In:
15Jun2021

It looks like Odyssey of the Seas first cruise is once again delayed.

Royal Caribbean confirmed the first few scheduled sailings will be canceled due to positive cases of Covid-19 onboard the ship among crew members.

According to the cruise line, all the crew members on Odyssey of the Seas were tested on June 4 when the ship arrived in Port Canaveral, as part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sailing Order.

The crew were tested again on June 10, and eight crew members tested positive.

Royal Caribbean's medical team is monitoring the crew that tested positive, and they are "in good health".

In addition, and in an abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean has made the decision to ask all crew members to quarantine for 14 days to ensure the health and safety of everyone on board. 

As a result, Odyssey of the Seas debut is being delayed and her first few sailings are canceled.

The ship was scheduled to begin sailing on July 3, but will now start sailing on July 31.

Guests booked onboard will be contacted with refund and rescheduling options.

Royal Caribbean said the change was unwelcome, but the safety of everyone onboard is the top priority, "This was an unexpected but necessary decision to make, and we are committed to doing the right thing for everyone’s well-being."

Here is the full statement from a Royal Caribbean spokesperson:

Out of an abundance of caution, we are postponing Odyssey of the Seas’ first sailings from July 3 until July 31, 2021. The simulation cruise, originally scheduled for late June, will also be rescheduled.  

During routine testing, eight crew members received a positive test result for COVID-19. All 1,400 crew on board Odyssey were vaccinated on June 4 and will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18. These positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given but before they were fully effective. 

The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were immediately quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team. To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing. 

Guests and travel partners will be notified and given several options to consider. While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests.  

This is not the first time crew on Odyssey of the Seas have had a brush with Covid.

In late May, Royal Caribbean disembarked four crew members in Spain who had tested positive for Covid-19 onboard the Odyssey of the Seas while the ship was moving from Israel to the United States.

A week later,Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook that the crew members have tested negative.

"They continue to remain asymptomatic (no symptoms) and yesterday all tested negative and will need one more test before being released on Friday," he said.

"Plans are to re assign the crew to Harmony and Symphony of the Seas. As our protocols work and all our crew get vaccinated we are on the road to Freedom."

Odyssey of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, but her debut has been delayed numerous times due to Covid-19.

She was originally scheduled to be built and delivered by 2020, but that was pushed back a year.

Then her inaugural season from Rome was cancelled, and instead scheduled to sail from Israel this summer.  Violence in the region forced Royal Caribbean to cancel her entire summer season and the ship was re-scheduled to start sailings from Fort Lauderdale.

Odyssey of the Seas will offer roundtrip cruises from Fort Lauderdale.

Odyssey is the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to cruise from the U.S., which features SeaPlex - the largest indoor and outdoor activity complex at sea - and a vibrant, Caribbean-inspired pool deck

Royal Caribbean's vaccine policy for 2021 cruises

In:
Category: 
15Jun2021

Will Royal Caribbean require a vaccine for its passengers on cruise ships? The answer is it depends where you sail out from in 2021.

Over the last few months, there has been plenty of sound bites, quotes, and interviews by various Royal Caribbean executives on the issue of vaccines, but what is the answer right now?

Royal Caribbean clarified its position on vaccine requirements to make things as simple for everyone right now.

For cruises departing from all U.S. ports (except Florida ports), Royal Caribbean requires all guests 16 years of age or older to be fully vaccinated, and from Aug. 1, all guests 12 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated.

Kids that are not old enough to qualify to get the vaccine will be able to sail with a negative test result and must follow certain protocols.

All crew members will be fully vaccinated.

Vaccine requirements based on departure port

The vaccine policies, which are in line with local regulations, are currently the following: 

  • Cruises from Seattle: Guests who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1
  • Cruises from Florida: It is strongly recommended that guests set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols at their own expense. These expenses are still being finalized. Based on our guest survey’s, we expect 90% of all our guests to be fully vaccinated
  • Cruises from Texas: Guests who are 12 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Cruises from The Bahamas: Guests who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1
  • Cruises from the UK: Sailing UK residents above the age of 18 must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 are required to receive negative test results.
  • Cruises from Cyprus: Guests above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 with negative test results can sail.
  • Cruises from Spain: Guests above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results can sail.
  • Cruises from Singapore: Sailing Singapore guests are not required to be vaccinated but must follow the protocols outlined by the Singapore government

Cruises from Florida

On cruises departing from Florida ports, all guests are strongly recommended to be fully vaccinated. Based on our guest survey’s, we expect 90% of all our guests to be fully vaccinated.

Guests eligible but not fully vaccinated or able to show proof of vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols at their own expense.

Children not eligible for vaccines will be subject to complimentary testing and health protocols.  

Royal Caribbean told Forbes that they "expect approximately 90% of our guests will be vaccinated, based on regular surveys."

What other changes can you expect?

Additional health and safety measures include our fully vaccinated crew, testing, the robust onboard ventilation system and enhanced cleaning.

"As we work to finalize these measures for cruises departing from U.S. ports, in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well state and local authorities, our goal is to fully comply with federal, state and local laws, as we always have. Royal Caribbean International will continue to evaluate and update its health and safety measures as circumstances evolve and in compliance with federal, state and local government and health authorities."

Court case between Florida and CDC continues with Judge hearing both arguments

In:
Category: 
11Jun2021

The State of Florida and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were back in court on Thursday to continue hearings.

Florida is suing the CDC in order to get the CDC's Conditional Sail Order (CSO) thrown out.  Florida believes it unfairly targets one industry that is causing financial hardship to the cruise lines and Floridians.

The CDC believes not only are cruises in the process of restarting, it says, " Florida cannot establish an irreparable injury that would occur in the absence of an injunction."

Judge Steven D. Merryday heard arguments from both sides on whether or not the CSO has merit.

The case was held in Tampa once again, following both sides failing to come to a compromise at court-ordered mediation.

According to reports from the courtroom, Judge Merryday asked the CDC if the 95 percent vaccination rule and masks and social distancing rules are an overreach and really necessary or effective.

He also asked Florida's attorneys about the risks involved, and how that could impact the general public.

Judge Merryday told both parties he would get back to them with his decision as soon as possible.

"There are a lot of moving parts here," the judge said. "I only get to write one order."

Florida's argument

Florida sued the CDC because its policy of keeping cruise ships shutdown is causing financial hardship to the state and residents.  Specifically, they claim Florida is losing millions of dollars and people are out of work as a result.

Florida believes the CDC is acting slowly, and their vaccine requirements are "illegal and untenable."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) believes the CDC has no right to shutdown the cruise industry for this long, given the "very little evidence and very little data" provided by the agency.

CDC's argument

The CDC believes not only is its policy providing trust for the general public.

The CDC thinks if the CSO was waived as a result of the lawsuit, the public would not trust cruise ships are safe, "an injunction would cast considerable doubt on public confidence in the industry, particularly in the State of Florida, which is publicly battling with the industry over its own laws."

The CDC added an injunction would "otherwise undermine the carefully laid plans for safe resumption of passenger operations."

The agency believes an injunction against the CSO would actually hinder, not help, Florida's goals.

Royal Caribbean CEO clarifies vaccine requirements for cruise ships

In:
Category: 
10Jun2021

The restart of cruise ships around the world has lead to a bit of confusion among cruisers who are trying to understand what to expect when they get onboard later this year.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook an attempt to clarify the situation and simplify where things stand now.

Mr. Bayley outlined what the vaccine requirements are as of right now, but he did caution the policies will likely change, " One guarantee is whatever the policy is today, it will evolve and change."

His post comes less than a day after Royal Caribbean shared vaccine requirements with travel agents, noting unvaccinated guests in certain scenarios would have to incur additional costs and different protocols.

Above all else, crew members will be fully vaccinated across the entire fleet of ships.

According to Mr. Bayley, here is the vaccine requirements for cruise ships around the world.

Vaccine will be required

For guests sailing on

  • Adventure of the Seas from the Bahamas
  • Anthem of the Seas from Southampton
  • Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus
  • Serenade of the Seas from Seattle
  • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas from Galveston
  • Harmony of the Seas from Barcelona
  • (Hopefully) Oasis of the Seas from Bayonne

"All will sail with the requirement for fully vaccinated guests, with the exception of any kids who are not age eligible for vaccines.  (12 and up in the USA after August 1st).  "

"Kids will be required to be tested and subject to health protocols and there will be no additional charges for any testing etc for the kids."

Vaccines recommended

For these ships sailing out of Florida ports in July and August

  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas

"We are strongly recommending all guests eligible for vaccines are fully vaccinated. We expect approximately 90 per cent of our guests will be vaccinated."

"Guests who choose not to be vaccinated or not willing to verify vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols which will be at their expense."

"Kids not eligible for vaccines (under 12 from August 1) who sail will be required to be tested and subject to health protocols and there will be no additional charges."

Singapore

"For Quantum of the Seas sailing out of Singapore since last November we operate under the Royal health protocols and guidance from the Singapore government using testing and health protocols."

"To date over 75,000 guests have sailed successfully onboard Quantum. "

Strong opinions on requiring the vaccine

Mr. Bayley asked for feedback in his post, albeit with a request for them "in a polite way", which seems to be a commentary on the flood of comments in favor of or against Royal Caribbean's policy.

Ever since the cruise line announced it would "strongly recommend" vaccines for passengers on some ships sailing from the United States, the debate to be vaccinated or not has been reignited among cruise fans.

Mr. Bayley has clearly seen some of the debate, as he said, "My only request is please share your opinion or comments in a polite way. If you could read some messages I have received!"

"Its scary!"

Included within the cruise line's ambitious July restart plans announced on Friday, Royal Caribbean changed the wording of its Covid-19 vaccine policy by saying they are now simply "strongly recommended".

While not confirmed by the cruise line, many believe the change to make the vaccine recommended from Florida ports has to do with Florida's ban on businesses asking for proof of a vaccine.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed a new law that prohibits businesses from being able to ask for proof of a vaccine from their customers.

Senate Bill (SB) 2006 specifies the new law prohibits "a business entity from requiring patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19."

Companies that violate this law would be subject to a fine of $5,000 each time they require a customer to present a vaccine passport for service.

Ever since then, many cruise fans have been vocal in sharing their thoughts on Royal Caribbean's policy, which usually ends up with a debate on the virtues of the Covid-19 vaccine along with name calling, personal insults, and political arguments.

Florida fires back at CDC in lawsuit trying to get cruise ships sailing again

In:
Category: 
09Jun2021

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody fired back at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday, calling the agency's vaccine requirements, "illegal and untenable."

Florida is suing the CDC in order to get the CDC's Conditional Sail Order (CSO) lifted so that cruise ships can restart cruises without approval from the CDC.

Florida filed a response to the supplemental memorandum submitted by CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The CDC has championed the fact it has acted swiftly in recent weeks to grant permission to sail, but Ms. Moody said the CDC has only made matters worse.

She mentioned the two test cruise options cruise lines face, and said it is "making test sailing so onerous that cruise lines must require near-universal vaccinations."

Cruise lines can either require 95% vaccinated passengers and skip test cruises, or do test cruise sailings.

Ms. Moody pointed out test cruises will cost "tens of millions of dollars per brand" in order to be conducted.

"Even then, cruise ships must comply with burdensome protocols that no longer apply on land, including masking and social distancing."

"For example, the CDC requires passengers who are in a pool or hot tub to “maintain physical distancing of 6 feet." The CDC also requires ships to “modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing."

Ms. Moody's conclusion is the CDC is overreaching, "The CDC does not have the authority to impose vaccination on cruisers. And they know this—that is why they are framing it as an alternative."

"But the vaccination “option” operates as a requirement. This option discriminates against families. Cruising is a family activity, but the 95% vaccination requirement counts kids, and therefore, excludes families."

"The vaccination requirement would force cruise ships to violate Florida (and Texas) law, even though the CDC expressly disavowed any attempt to preempt Florida law at the hearing.

"The CDC’s Option 2 requirements make sailing at full capacity impossible. Thus, the only way for cruise lines to make a reasonable profit is to adopt the illegal and untenable vaccine requirements."

Alaska

Ms. Moody responded to the CDC's claims that the new bill circumventing U.S. cabotage laws, which allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska this year, would be nullified if the CSO was lifted.

Ms. Moody believes the new law is "a classic example of legislative compromise" and crafted to solve a problem in Alaska, not uphold the CDC's policies.

She also said the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) does not even mention the CSO (it mentions the conditional sailing certificate), and "even if ATRA had ratifying force (it does not), it would not ratify the CDC’s conduct here."

Ms. Moody also erroneously referred to the Jones Act in her statement, instead of the Passenger Vessel Services Act.

Royal Caribbean will charge unvaccinated cruise passengers for tests and have different protocols

In:
Category: 
09Jun2021

If you aren't vaccinated, your Royal Caribbean cruise will likely cost you more than if you are fully vaccinated.

During a webinar with travel agents, Royal Caribbean said it plans on handling unvaccinated guests differently, which may include extra costs and different protocols onboard.

Royal Caribbean will not mandate the Covid-19 vaccine due to the fact they are a family cruise line, but local laws in Florida and Texas make verifying who is or who is not fully vaccinated difficult.

Royal Caribbean cautioned their plans could change, but as of now, unvaccinated passengers sailing from Florida can expect extra testing costs that will not be part of the cruise fare.

  • CRUISES FROM SEATTLE
    • Guests who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1 
  • CRUISES FROM FLORIDA
    • It is strongly recommended that guests set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing, be responsible for any expenses incurred and follow other protocols. These expenses are still being finalized. 
  • CRUISES FROM TEXAS 
    • Vaccine requirements are being finalized based on state law. 

In addition, other health protocols may be mandated for them.

Rules for cruises from Texas are still being discussed.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, explained the current plan, "Cruises from Florida: It is strongly recommended that guests set sail fully vaccinated if they are eligible.

"Those who are unvaccinated, or unable to verify vaccination, will be required to undergo testing, and they will be responsible for any expenses incurred and follow other protocols. These expenses are still being finalized."

She said exact costs are not known yet because it is will being worked out.

Ms. Freed said protocols for cruises from Texas are "being finalized". Texas just passed a law prohibiting local businesses from asking for proof of vaccination, similar to Florida's law.

Royal Caribbean's policy mirrors what Celebrity Cruises announced yesterday, when they indicated unvaccinated guests will be able to sail, but there are implications to doing so.

It also follows up on what Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO said earlier this week in a video update, when he disclosed unvaccinated passengers would have different rules, "due to the health and legal requirements of many jurisdictions, those who are unvaccinated will need to undergo additional testing and other restrictions. That necessarily adds to their cost, and adds limitations on the cruise for those people who choose to be unvaccinated."

Mr. Fain added that there would be no additional costs for children who are not eligible for the vaccine.

Royal Caribbean releases health protocols for Anthem of the Seas UK cruises

In:
08Jun2021

Royal Caribbean has shared the health protocols for Brits sailing on Anthem of the Seas from Southampton this summer.

Anthem of the Seas will begin sailing from Southampton, England on July 7, 2021 on sailings with a combination of 4-night cruises to nowhere in early July and 5- to 8-night British Isles cruises, starting 15th July, that feature visits to destinations such as Liverpool, England, Kirkwall in Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

These cruises are available to UK residents only, and proof of residency will be required.

The cruise line has now shared what health measures will be required for guests sailing onboard, although the protocols are being continually evaluated. Royal Caribbean says booked guests can expect to be advised of the latest requirements within 30 days of sailing.

Vaccines

All crew members will be vaccinated, and anyone that is 18 years old or older must be fully vaccinated as well.

If you are fully vaccinated, you’ll need to present your testing results (through the Eurofins Trust One app or a physical test result) and Proof of Vaccination (either on the NHS app or a NHS vaccination certificate) on boarding day. 

If you are not fully vaccinated before the sailing because the healthcare system is working by age group, you will not be able to sail.

Testing

Vaccinated guests must bring the negative result of an rt-PCR test taken within 72 hours of sailing. We will email instructions on how to register for your complimentary test approximately 14-18 days before your cruise.

Unvaccinated guests, 2-17 years old, must take a complimentary rapid antigen test at the terminal and receive a negative result in order to sail. We will email instructions on how to register in advance approximately 14-18 days before your cruise.

Guests Under The Age Of 2 have no testing requirements.

No further tests or documentation is required for your return and disembark at Southampton.

Face masks

Outdoors onboard: Masks are not required outdoors in open-air areas, such as decks, balconies and by the pool, unless you are in a crowded setting. Masks are not permitted in the pool or for any activity where they could become wet.

Indoors onboard: All guests 11 years and older must wear a mask in all indoor public spaces, unless seated and actively eating or drinking. Masks are not required in your stateroom as long as you are with your own travel party.

At public ports of call, local face covering guidelines apply. 

Shore Excursions

Royal Caribbean says it anticipates guests will not have to book a tour in order to go ashore, but it is not confirmed yet.

"At this time we anticipate that you won’t need to book a tour to go ashore in our destinations, we are working closely with each of the ports we visit and will ensure we adhere to the protocols they have defined."

Dining

Royal Caribbean recommends making reservations for onboard dining.

Specialty dining and My Time Dining times can be booked via the Cruise Planner app. Reservations for the Main Dining Room and Windjammer can be made once onboard by using the Royal Caribbean App or calling the reservation line. 

Windjammer will be open for breakfast and lunch, and food will now be served to you by crew members to avoid guests sharing serving utensils. 

Entertainment

Venues will seat at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing, and the cruise line will also be offering more showtimes throughout each sailing so there is an opportunity for everyone to see the shows.

Show times can be reserved via the Royal Caribbean App.

Florida vs CDC lawsuit will continue on Thursday

In:
Category: 
07Jun2021

The legal challenge between the State of Florida and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue this week.

Judge Steven D. Merryday will hear arguments on Thursday in the ongoing court case that seeks to lift the CDC's No Sail Order and allow cruise ships to sail without CDC approval.

Florida sued the CDC so that cruise ships could return to service faster and without government approval.

The case will be held in Tampa following court mediation that failed to come to any kind of a resolution.

Florida filed the lawsuit back in April when cruise ship restart plans from the United States were completely idle. Florida felt the cruise lines were being treated unfairly, and the CDC's approval process would be much to slow and onerous.

Since then, a lot of progress has been made by both the CDC and cruise lines to get going again.

Royal Caribbean announced summer restart plans from the United States last week, and Carnival and NCL both announced restart plans earlier today.

A Memorandum in opposition court filing by U.S. Department of Justice attorneys say now the situation is completely different, and "recent factual developments further undermine" Florida's argument for the need to lift he CSO.

"Cruising is on track to resume by mid-summer, and Florida cannot establish an irreparable injury that would occur in the absence of an injunction. Plaintiff’s original motion was premised on the misconception that an “industry” was “shut down” indefinitely," the filing stated.

"That was never a valid characterization of the CSO, and it is demonstrably not the case now."

The CDC has been certainly more active in changing protocols, and approving test cruises.

So far, a number of Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been approved to begin test sailings, with more lines getting approval too. In fact, the CDC says thus far they have approved 22 port agreements at 5 ports of call and has approved or provisionally approved 11 requests to conduct simulated voyages; and has received and provisionally approved 2 conditional sailing certificates for highly vaccinated cruises.

The CDC also repeated its claim that if the Conditional Sail Order was lifted, it would mean cruises to Alaska would not be possible.

According to the CDC, the legislation recently signed into law by President Joe Biden is only effective if a Conditional Sailing Order issued by the CDC remains in effect, "because Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) only benefits ships operating with a Conditional Sailing Certificate under the CSO."

The CDC also believes if Florida wins the lawsuit, it would "cast considerable additional doubt on public confidence in the industry", and otherwise "undermine" restart plans for passenger operations.

Court ordered mediation took place last week between the two sides, but those talks failed.

Taryn Fenske, communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, spoke out after the mediation went nowhere about the fact the CSO continues to be "unlawful", "After more than a week of good-faith negotiations by the State of Florida in mediation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after Florida sued the CDC to overturn the agencies unlawful No Sail Order, the CDC continues to impose ridiculous, unlawful regulations that targets a single industry by imposing vaccine requirements – something no other business or industry must do."

"These requirements not only discriminate against one industry, but children, families, and small businesses. Despite Florida’s sincere efforts to reach a compromise, the United States District Court declared an impasse."

The cruise lines have been caught in the middle of the CDC and Florida fight, as being federally required to verify if a passenger is fully vaccinated or not is now impossible under Florida law.

Florida law bans cruise ships (and any business) from being allowed to ask customers if they are vaccinated.

The penalty for doing so would be $5,000 for each passenger who is asked for vaccination proof.

CDC approves test cruises for Independence and Mariner of the Seas

In:
04Jun2021

Two more Royal Caribbean ships are approved to begin test cruises.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved test cruises for Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, which makes them the fourth and fifth Royal Caribbean ships approved for test cruises.

Earlier this week, Symphony and Allure of the Seas were approved. Freedom of the Seas was the first ship to get approved.

The CDC was busy with other approvals, for ships from Celebrity Cruise Line and Carnival Cruises.

Mariner of the Seas will begin her test cruises on August 1, 2021.

Independence of the Seas will begin her test cruises on August 11, 2021.

Royal Caribbean confirmed the test cruise start dates, which coincide with Royal Caribbean's other big announcement of restart plans for this summer.

Royal Caribbean plans to start revenue cruises on Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, beginning on August 23, 2021.

Likewise, Independence of the Seas is scheduled to sail from Galveston with paying passengers on August 15, 2021.

Of the ships confirmed for restart earlier today, we are still waiting on test cruise dates for Serenade, Ovation, and Odyssey of the Seas.

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.

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