RCI-Royal Caribbean International taking "Volunteers of the Seas" for test cruises

   November 13, 2020 ,   Cruise Industry

RCI-Royal Caribbean International is looking into arranging trial cruises to convince regulators it can successfully run COVID-era sailings.

The USA's CDC agency's framework for conditional sailing stipulates cruise shipping companies must run "simulated voyages" designed "to replicate real-world onboard conditions of cruising" in case they want to get permission to recommence regularly scheduled voyages.

It is not clear whether volunteers for mock sailings will be paid, have to contribute toward costs or travel for free.

Before cruise companies can get started on simulated cruise plans, they must confirm they have met the CDC's requirements for protecting crew onboard ships, namely that they will be regularly tested.

The CD's framework also requires simulated cruises to meet a series of requirements, including that guests are informed in writing "that they are participating in a simulation of unproven and untested health and safety protocols" and, "that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity."

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, and they have to confirm they don't have pre-existing medical conditions.

The cruise lines cannot promise volunteer passengers future reward or employment.

The simulated voyages will feature activities many cruisers love - from onboard entertainment to private island shore trips - but they will also include trialing what would happen in case a passenger tested positive for Coronavirus, such as cabin confinement and quarantine.

The mock cruises have to meet the CDC requirements for onboard hand hygiene, social distancing, and face coverings. Laboratory testing will take place for all crew members and guests when they embark and disembark.

The company must send a report after the mock trip is completed, which the Centers will review, provide feedback, and issue a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate to assume all requirements have been met. 

Royal Caribbean International is currently gathering information from people who have expressed interest via the line's "Volunteers of the Seas" Facebook page. It will be in touch with them once Royal Caribbean has finalized plans.