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Royal Caribbean Starts Taking Volunteers For Test Cruises
Exterior on Grandeur of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Starts Taking Volunteers For Test Cruises

Royal Caribbean Starts Taking Volunteers For Test Cruises
Exterior on Grandeur of the Seas

November 12, 2020

Chris Gray Faust
Managing Editor
By Chris Gray Faust
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(10:55 a.m. EST) -- Volunteers of the Seas. That's what Royal Caribbean is calling for, in a new website designed to solicit volunteers for "test cruises" that are required before the cruise line can resume service.
The
web form
is very simple and gives would-be volunteers no information about what the test cruises are, when they will take place or what is required. All you need to do is submit your name, number of people in your party, email, phone number and your Crown & Anchor number.
Known officially as "simulated cruises," the tests are meant for cruise lines to show the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all of their protocols to keep passengers safe from COVID-19 are working. The CDC has mandated these test cruises as a pre-requisite before the lines can resume service from U.S. ports.
Ever since the test cruises were announced, cruise fans have been chomping at the bit to volunteer to help their favorite lines, which is why Royal decided to put the form out there.
"Royal Caribbean has some of the most loyal guests in the cruise industry, and we have been overjoyed with their interest to take part in our simulated trial sailings," the line said in an emailed statement. "This week alone, we have received more than 5,000 emails, not including the tweets, comments and messages across social media.
"We have a lot of details to work out to make sure everyone's experience onboard is as safe and as enjoyable as we can make it. So, while we currently have no dates to announce yet we are excited about the interest we have received so far -- we can’t wait to finally welcome our guests back on board. "
The CDC has outlined some restrictions for would-be volunteers.
Exterior on Freedom of the Seas
Namely, all volunteers must be 18 years or older, and have written documentation from their healthcare provider certifying that they have no medical conditions that would place them at high-risk for COVID-19.
And that's where things could get tricky. What exactly the specific medical conditions that would render someone ineligible for the test sailings are has not been outlined by the CDC. On its website, the CDC does list a few risk factors which include diabetes, obesity and those over 65 years of age.
Royal is the first line to come out and solicit volunteers, although the process has engenderer confusion. Just yesterday in her coffee chat, Royal Caribbean's Vicki Freed said that despite interest, the line planned to rely only on employees to fill the test voyages. Apparently that process changed overnight, as the web form appeared today.
The CDC does specifically note that the test voyages must be conducted "on a consensual basis" and "not as a condition of employment or in exchange for consideration or future reward." That might be why the line needs cruise fans, in addition to some of its own workers.
While signing up is an easy process, anyone who volunteers must expect an experience that will not be like a typical cruise.
The CDC is requiring the cruise lines to test protocols in seven different areas: embarkation and disembarkation; onboard activities; private island shore excursions; evacuation procedures; transfer of symptomatic passengers from cabins to isolation rooms and quarantining passengers and crew, as well as any other activities that the agency sees fit.
That means that while the volunteers could participate in fun activities like testing specialty restaurant service or getting drinks at the bar, they might also end up having to go through several versions of getting on or off the ship or having to stay in their cabins while a quarantine exercise is being performed.
And while the ships will likely have to go to a private island to test the shore excursions, many of the activities listed by the CDC might require the vessel to stay at the dock.
Passengers who volunteer will certainly have to take at least two COVID-19 tests, as required by the CDC, with testing required at embarkation and disembarkation. Masks will also be required in public areas, as well as social distancing protocols.
Still interested? Cruise Critic will continue to update our test cruise FAQ as we receive more information.
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