The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently released new guidance that could have cruise ships sailing soon. According to the CDC website, cruise lines must request approval in order to conduct simulated voyages with volunteer passengers. These simulated cruises would demonstrate COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Approval must be requested at least 30 calendar days prior to the date the simulated cruise is to take place. The CDC does intend to approve applications quickly if they accurately meet the requirements. This means we could see sailings in June at the earliest. However, the cruise requirements and passenger eligibility make up a daunting list. Some notable details for the simulated voyages include that at least 10% of the maximum number of passengers permitted must be volunteers. Volunteer passengers must be at least 18 years old. They must be either fully vaccinated or provide written documentation from a health care provider or a self-certified statement that they have no health conditions that would place them at risk for severe COVID-19. It is also evident that volunteers will be frequently tested to evaluate the cruise ship operator’s ability to mitigate the risk of COVID. In addition, there is a list of more than 70 other requirements regarding length of cruise, dining, onboard activities, excursions, and more.
The CDC has also offered a way to sidestep the simulated voyages. Instead, cruise lines must prove that 98% of the crew and 95% of the passengers are fully vaccinated. Furthermore, all passengers and crew, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask per the CDC’s order.
We don’t yet know what this information will mean for Disney Cruise Line. However, with cruise lines being unable to sail from the US since March 2020, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many willing participants if Disney decides to employ simulated cruises.