Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas embarks on simulated cruise

PORTMIAMI, Fla. — The first cruise to sail from a U.S port has begun in the first step to bring back the industry after the coronavirus pandemic caused ships to stay empty of passengers for more than a year.

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Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas embarked on a simulated cruise, carrying about 600 people. It will stop at CocoCay, the island owned by the cruise line, the Miami Herald reported.

The trip, which sailed Sunday evening from PortMiami, has a fully vaccinated crew, WTVJ reported.

The passengers are all employees of Royal Caribbean who volunteered to set sail testing the company’s health and safety initiatives, CNN reported.

The passengers are also all vaccinated and are being accompanied by a person from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cruise line companies can either do a test cruise or only set sail with 95% of crew and passengers fully vaccinated against COVID-19, CNN reported.

The cruise is a short excursion, scheduled from June 20 to 22, the company said.

If the simulated cruise shows that the company can sail safely, the first Royal Caribbean cruise for paying passengers on the Freedom of the Seas could be on July 2, the company said.

Each ship, however, must go through at least one simulated cruise with one overnight stay and go through embarkation, disembarkation and post-disembarkation testing, Royal Caribbean said.

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