Even after the difficult 15 months of stops-and-starts and misleading consumer news headlines that the cruise industry has endured, its loyal guests are going nowhere. That’s more obvious than ever.
According to an update from Royal Caribbean, more than a quarter of a million people have sent in their application to get onboard one of the cruise line’s test cruises, which are set to kick-off on June 20. Royal announced this week that it had received CDC approval to start preparing for the test cruises, with Freedom of the Seas out of Miami.
The 250,000-plus people is more than enough guests to fill Freedom of the Seas 57-times over.
“We have incredibly loyal and supportive guests. To date, over 250,000 have volunteered to participate in our return to sailing efforts. Your encouragement and unwavering confidence in us over the last 15 months have contributed to the collective effort of bringing cruising back,” Royal wrote in an update on its volunteer Facebook page, Volunteers of the Sea.
“There are logistics to figure out and we will share details once they have been worked through. We look forward to having Volunteers of the Seas be part of the Royal comeback this summer.
There is no word yet as to when Royal will confirm which volunteers were chosen to get onboard.
The goal for the sailings, according to a letter from the CDC to Royal shared by Royal president Michael Bayley, is to test Royal’s plan for return to service and record “any deficiencies” in the process. The ship will be required to sail with at least 10% of its regular passenger volume and maintain a color-coded status with the CDC leading up to the test cruises. All guests will be notified of the CDC’s Travel Health Notice for COVID-19 and Cruise Ship Travel prior to embarking, too.
The push for test cruises prior to CDC approval also means that Royal is wanting to be able to sail without the vaccinated requirement that the CDC is mandating if cruise lines want to skip test cruises. Royal has opted for requiring vaccination for passengers in some of its sailings, but this week’s news means that Royal is looking to see if it is able to drop that requirement with these test cruises.