The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released new details on the trial cruises that they will be requiring cruise lines to do. The lack of information on these trial cruises has been one of the major frustrations for companies trying to prepare for a return to cruising this summer. We now have a clearer idea of what we can expect. This information comes after the CDC revealed that they would allow cruise lines to skip this process if they reached a certain level of vaccinations for both crew members and guests, however. This makes it unclear whether or not any cruise lines will actually be going forward with trial cruises or not.
The process for the trial cruises begins with requesting CDC approval. Cruise lines are being told to ask for approval about a month before a trial voyage would take place. The CDC will then determine whether or not they are eligible within five days. If they are, the cruise line will need to recruit volunteer passengers to partake in a voyage lasting anywhere from two to seven days. The trial cruise will look more or less like a normal cruise, and cruise lines need to demonstrate their safety measures during the voyage. The full list of technical requirements for the cruises is quite long, and you can read it in full over here on the CDC’s website.
When will these trial cruises take place?
The biggest question as of now is when these trial cruises will take place. No cruise lines have announced their plans for these voyages, but it’s safe to assume that they could be happening relatively soon. Most ships have already been fitted with new safety measures in order to sail during the pandemic, so the main thing cruise lines will need to wait on is CDC approval. If they want to go forward with the trial cruise process, it could happen in just a few weeks.
Will trial cruises actually happen?
Of course, it’s not entirely clear if any trial cruises are even going to happen at this point. Because the CDC is allowing ships to sail when they reach a certain percentage of vaccinations (98% of crew and 95% of guests), many cruise lines may opt for mass vaccinations instead of trial cruises. We have already seen a few cruise lines starting down this road, and we expect to see more doing so in the future. In the end, the cruise industry may just avoid trial cruises entirely.
Regardless of the future of trial cruises, it’s exciting to see the CDC finally make some concrete progress on their Conditional Sailing Order. Perhaps the summer cruise season in America will happen after all!