The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved port deals for 22 vessels to cruise from five different homeports, and is looking to approve six more cruise ships.
According to a Royal Caribbean blog, the US homeports were Miami, Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Seattle and Galveston.
In addition, the CDC said it has recently approved or provisionally approved four requests to conduct simulated test voyages with six more requests under review as of last week.
CDC had also approved and had received and provisionally approved two conditional sailing certificates for highly vaccinated cruises.
The number of test simulated cruises’ approvals are increasing, as the CDC recently granted permission for ‘Mariner of the Seas’ (pictured) and ‘Independence of the Seas’, which are the fourth and fifth Royal Caribbean ships to be allowed to operate test cruises.
‘Mariner of the Seas’ will begin her test cruises on 1st August, 2021, while ‘Independence of the Seas’ will commence on 11th August, 2021.
Last week, ’Symphony of the Seas’ and ‘Allure of the Seas’ were approved, following the ‘Freedom of the Seas’, which was the first RCI ship to get approved.
The CDC was said to be negotiating other approvals for Celebrity Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line vessels.
Disney Cruise Line has also received permission from the CDC for the ‘Disney Dream’ to conduct a simulation cruise from 29th June to 1st July, sailing from Port Canaveral.
Similar to the other cruise vessels, ‘Disney Dream’ will sail with volunteer passengers to test the company’s newly developed health and safety protocols.
Test cruises are required by the CDC if a cruise ship will not have 95% of its cruise passengers fully vaccinated, along with 98% of its crew members.
Each ship must conduct at least one test cruise, and each simulated sailing must be of between two to seven days in length with a least one overnight stay, including through embarkation, disembarkation, and post-disembarkation testing.
CDC recommended a minimum voyage length of three days with two overnight stays.
Volunteers on a simulation cruise must meet CDC requirements, including being at least 18 years old and informed of the risks of setting sail on a test cruise during a pandemic. Volunteers may or may not be vaccinated against COVID-19.
If they aren’t vaccinated, they’ll have to self-certify that they aren’t at risk of critical illness, due to COVID-19, or provide documentation from a healthcare provider.
Cruise lines that can certify that at least 95% of all passengers will be vaccinated will be allowed to bypass the test cruise requirement.
Later, another operator, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line received the green light from the CDC to conduct a simulated sailing.
A small, private group of pre-selected, fully vaccinated passengers will join a group of fully vaccinated crew members on board the ‘Grand Classica’, departing Palm Beach on 25th June for a two-night round-trip cruise to Grand Bahama Island.
The sailing will simulate all aspects of the on board experience, including dining, entertainment, leisure activities and shore excursions.
On 28th May, Carnival Corp received CDC acceptance of its Phase 2A Port Agreements for PortMiami, Port of Galveston and Port Canaveral – all key homeports for subsidiary Carnival Cruise Line and the first three homeports that Carnival is focusing on for its return to guest operations this summer.
****Four passengers on two cruise ships have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past few days in separate incidents.
Two were sailing on the ‘MSC Seaside’ and disembarked with their families in Syracuse, Sicily, last Tuesday, MSC told CNN news outlet.
The two passengers were said to be asymptomatic.
‘MSC Seaside’ had previously docked in Malta but passengers were not allowed ashore as this was only a ‘technical’ call, according to the cruise operator.
All passengers sailing with MSC must have a Covid-19 test 96 hours before departure, another when they embark, and a third during the cruise. MSC does not require passengers to be vaccinated, but the rules also apply to those who have.
Guests on board are required to wear masks in public spaces and social distance.
“Our protocol is working, if not on board those two people would still be freely circulating,” said MSC spokesperson Michele Curatolo to CNN.
The company has a contingency plan for each port of call, added Cuartolo, which meant that a “protective transfer was immediately activated” for the two passengers who tested positive.
Luca Biondolillo, MSC Cruise Chief Communications Officer, explained that three of the company’s vessels were at sea, a number due increase to eight by August.
In the second incident, on Thursday, Royal Caribbean confirmed that two guests on board ‘Celebrity Millennium’ had tested positive but were also asymptomatic and in isolation on board.
In a statement, the company said; “Today (Wednesday), two guests sharing a stateroom on board ’Celebrity Millennium’ tested positive for COVID-19 while conducting the required end-of-cruise testing.
“The individuals are asymptomatic and currently in isolation and being monitored by our medical team. We are conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts and closely monitoring the situation.
“’Celebrity Millennium’ is sailing with fully vaccinated crew and guests and following comprehensive protocols that align with our destination partners and exceed CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of our guests.
“All guests on ’Celebrity Millennium’ were required to show proof of vaccination, as well as a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before sailing from St Maarten this past Saturday. This situation demonstrates that our rigorous health and safety protocols work to protect our crew, guests and the communities we visit,” the company said.