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Royal Caribbean disembarks a simulated voyage ahead of resuming passenger cruises

The cruise industry is one step closer to offering voyages out of U.S. ports as Royal Caribbean has launched a trial cruise out of PortMiami.This marks the first time a cruise ship set sail out of a U.S. port in 15 months, when the pandemic shut down the entire industry.Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas left the port around 7 p.m. Friday for a two-day simulated voyage to the Bahamas.Company representatives say this trip, made up of all volunteer employee passengers, is a way to test out all of the company's new health and safety measures created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).All of those volunteers are vaccinated and a CDC representative is on board. On Sunday, Royal Caribbean employees shared what was going through their minds before setting sail.“I needed to get out. I’m vaccinated. I’ve been very healthy, thank God," said Delilah Herrera. "I just need to get out and see my friends and see my work family." The cruise line says they encourage passengers to get vaccinated, but it’s not mandatory. However, company representatives say they believe they have enough protocols in place to keep everyone safe."We do strongly recommend all the guests to be vaccinated, as for sure for those who are eligible, but we have measures in place to keep the crews safe," said Captain Patrick Dahlgren, senior VP of global marine operations for Royal Caribbean. Unvaccinated passengers will be required to pay for COVID-19 testing if they set sail with Royal Caribbean.While a federal judge sided with the state of Florida late last week, declaring the CDC can’t enforce COVID-19 restrictions of any kind on cruises and granting a temporary injunction, Royal Caribbean still appears to be following the CDC's COVID-19 guidelines.Per the CDC's guidelines, the cruise line would not have been required to conduct a trial cruise if they had a vaccine mandate for passengers. The federal judge has ordered both the state and the CDC to return to mediation to try to work out a solution.Meanwhile, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Classica is expected to have its own two-day simulated voyage out of the Port of Palm Beach starting this Friday.Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line expects to resume its passenger cruises starting July 2.

The cruise industry is one step closer to offering voyages out of U.S. ports as Royal Caribbean has launched a trial cruise out of PortMiami.

This marks the first time a cruise ship set sail out of a U.S. port in 15 months, when the pandemic shut down the entire industry.

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas left the port around 7 p.m. Friday for a two-day simulated voyage to the Bahamas.

Passengers wave as the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas gets underway through the Government Cut shipping channel at PortMiami during the first U.S. trial cruise testing COVID-19 protocols on June 20, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The cruise ship will get underway with employee volunteers on board. According to the cruise line, the purpose of the simulated voyage is to observe its “multilayered health and safety measures” following CDC requirements. The trial is one more step in the process of resuming operations out of U.S. ports, 15 months after the pandemic caused the cruise industry to shut down.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Passengers wave as the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas gets underway through the Government Cut shipping channel at PortMiami during the first U.S. trial cruise testing COVID-19 protocols on June 20, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The cruise ship will get underway with employee volunteers on board. According to the cruise line, the purpose of the simulated voyage is to observe its “multilayered health and safety measures” following CDC requirements. The trial is one more step in the process of resuming operations out of U.S. ports, 15 months after the pandemic caused the cruise industry to shut down.

Company representatives say this trip, made up of all volunteer employee passengers, is a way to test out all of the company's new health and safety measures created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All of those volunteers are vaccinated and a CDC representative is on board.

On Sunday, Royal Caribbean employees shared what was going through their minds before setting sail.

“I needed to get out. I’m vaccinated. I’ve been very healthy, thank God," said Delilah Herrera. "I just need to get out and see my friends and see my work family."

The cruise line says they encourage passengers to get vaccinated, but it’s not mandatory. However, company representatives say they believe they have enough protocols in place to keep everyone safe.

"We do strongly recommend all the guests to be vaccinated, as for sure for those who are eligible, but we have measures in place to keep the crews safe," said Captain Patrick Dahlgren, senior VP of global marine operations for Royal Caribbean.

Unvaccinated passengers will be required to pay for COVID-19 testing if they set sail with Royal Caribbean.

The Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas gets underway through the Government Cut shipping channel at PortMiami during the first U.S. trial cruise testing COVID-19 protocols on June 20, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty

The Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas gets underway through the Government Cut shipping channel at PortMiami during the first U.S. trial cruise testing COVID-19 protocols on June 20, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

While a federal judge sided with the state of Florida late last week, declaring the CDC can’t enforce COVID-19 restrictions of any kind on cruises and granting a temporary injunction, Royal Caribbean still appears to be following the CDC's COVID-19 guidelines.

Per the CDC's guidelines, the cruise line would not have been required to conduct a trial cruise if they had a vaccine mandate for passengers.

The federal judge has ordered both the state and the CDC to return to mediation to try to work out a solution.

Meanwhile, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Classica is expected to have its own two-day simulated voyage out of the Port of Palm Beach starting this Friday.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line expects to resume its passenger cruises starting July 2.


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