A few weeks ago, Royal Caribbean unveiled its 100,000-ton Freedom of the Seas, the ship that will be one of the largest ever built. The ship is set to sail in 2018, and at more than 975 feet long, it will be the longest in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The ship is part of a major overhaul by Royal Caribbean, which will include the introduction of a new fleetwide theme, along with completely new restaurants and other upgrades.

You can’t talk about Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas without mentioning the fact that it is the first of its kind, a ship that offers travelers access to five different islands and a total of seven ports of call. While the ship’s itinerary is yet to be announced, the company is expected to offer stops in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica before heading to Bermuda, Nassau and Key West.

The Freedom of the Seas has completed the first trial run of a major cruise ship from the United States since March. After two days away, the ship returned to Miami and conducted the first test.

The cruise ship was the first to sail with passengers on board since the pandemic began. Royal Caribbean’s ship departed early Sunday evening with 600 volunteers, Royal Caribbean staff and representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Guests enjoyed two days on board, including a perfect day on Coco Cay.

First trip scheduled for 2 July

The Freedom of the Seas must complete at least one of these simulated voyages to meet CDC requirements. Although the judge has already announced that Florida’s conditional boating ban is no longer in effect, the rules still apply.

During a simulated voyage, or test cruise as it is commonly called, the CDC verifies that the Freedom of the Sea meets all the protocols the agency requires of the ship. The agency may require additional testing if all of these conditions have not been met in the last three days.

The ship will make a trial run before launching on the 2nd. July from Miami for its first paying cruise. There will be a special 4th of July cruise to Perfect Day on Coco Cay. The Odyssey of the Seas was originally scheduled to depart on the 3rd. The launch took place in July, but due to positive tests by crew members, the ship had to cancel the test voyage and the maiden voyage in July.

Photo credit: gary yim / Shutterstock.com

According to Michael Bailey, CEO of the company, the cruise line decided to use the simulcast technology because of the large number of families with children who frequent the ships. By choosing to sail with both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests, the cruise line can allow anyone on board, whether they are vaccinated or not:

As a family brand, Royal Caribbean typically allows 10 percent of its customers to travel under the age of 12, who cannot be vaccinated today. We are committed to continuing to provide families with unforgettable vacations, which is why we host mock cruises.

What are the CDC requirements?

As part of the conditional boating ban, the CDC has developed two different routes on which cruise passengers can travel. The first is an option for those who have been vaccinated. Here, 95% of all guests on board and 98% of the crew must be vaccinated before the ship departs.

The other option is the one Royal Caribbean chooses specifically for cruises out of Florida. This is partly due to the family atmosphere that the cruise line wants to create on board, and partly due to Florida state law that states that cruise lines cannot require proof of vaccination.

The CDC will inspect the vessel for compliance with hand hygiene standards, mask use, social distancing for passengers and crew, and on-board sanitation. Embarkation and disembarkation procedures, on-board activities, medical evacuation procedures and excursions to private islands are also included.

The cruise line will likely announce later whether the test drive was successful or not. One thing is for sure, the entire cruise industry will be eagerly awaiting the results of the CDC study and how the industry can move forward after this important step to get the cruise industry back on its feet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the earliest time you can board a Royal Caribbean cruise?

The earliest time you can board a Royal Caribbean cruise is at 1:00pm.

What happens if I don’t pay my cruise on time Royal Caribbean?

If you do not pay your cruise on time, Royal Caribbean will charge a $100 late fee.

Does Royal Caribbean have resume cruises?

No, Royal Caribbean does not offer resume cruises.

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