(4:32 p.m. EDT) -- Disney Cruise Line has received approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to run a two-night test cruise on Disney Dream from Port Canaveral June 29 to July 1, as a prelude to its resumption of cruises from the U.S.
The news was shared in a letter sent to crew members (cast members, in Disney-speak) from Thomas Mazloum, President, Disney Signature Experiences, who oversees Disney Cruise Line.
"The ship will sail with volunteer passengers and test our newly developed health and safety protocols, which have been meticulously tailored to the current public health environment," Mazloum writes. "All of these protocols are essential to cruising responsibly, and Disney Cruise Line couldn't be more committed to making vacation dreams come true as it prioritizes the wellbeing of all who step aboard our ship."
The move toward test cruises for Disney was expected, as the line's popularity with families and children meant that ships would not be able to reach the 95 percent vaccination threshold to skip the non-revenue sailings.
Under the CDC’s guidelines, cruise lines must apply for test cruises on any ships they plan to sail without at least 95 percent of passengers and crew vaccinated, prior to a resumption of normal operations.
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In a statement to Cruise Critic, Disney said, "We have reached an important next step toward our gradual and responsible resumption of service, and are grateful for the productive dialogue with state, local and federal officials, the CDC and others in our industry that has made this possible. We look forward to our amazing crew once again creating magic for our guests and to helping the many workers who support our industry get back to work."
Disney declined to give further details. According to CDC rules, test cruises are restricted to adults age 18 and up. The purpose of the simulations is to prove to CDC inspectors that ships can operate safely with new health and safety protocols such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and quarantine facilities.
The Disney announcement follows Royal Caribbean’s approval for a three-day test cruise, which came last week, and will take place June 20 to 22 on Freedom of the Seas.
The CDC confirmed today that they have approved port agreements for four Disney ships at Port Canaveral. Only Disney Dream has submitted a request for a simulated voyage.