(Updated 3:30 p.m. EDT) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the green light to seven additional ships for test cruises from the fleets of Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, plus an additional vessel from MSC Cruises.
The agency also approved startup revenue cruises for vaccinated guests aboard Celebrity Equinox, from Fort Lauderdale on July 25, sailing to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Nassau. Celebrity already has Celebrity Edge slated as the first ship to cruise from a U.S. homeport since the pandemic began, leaving from Fort Lauderdale on a similar itinerary June 26.
Royal Caribbean International was approved for test sailings on Allure of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Symphony of the Seas from Miami and Independence of the Seas from Galveston.
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Royal previously received approval to sail a two-night simulated voyage on Freedom of the Seas from PortMiami June 20 to 22. Disney Dream was also earlier approved for test cruises from Port Canaveral.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line announced that they will be running a test cruise out of the Port of Palm Beach. The CDC said Thursday that the line has only partial approval yet, however.
On Friday, the CDC revealed MSC Cruises has been granted approval to conduct simulated voyages aboard MSC Meraviglia from PortMiami.
That bringing the number of ships definitely approved for test cruises to nine -- and the number of those that are ready to go to two.
Test cruises are required by the CDC to prove the efficiency of health and safety protocols on ships that do not plan to meet the agency’s threshold of 95 percent of passengers being vaccinated.
Celebrity Equinox will sail with mostly vaccinated so will be able to forgo the test cruises and resume revenue sailings.
For Edge, Celebrity Cruises said it would not require vaccines for passengers under age 16 on the initial cruises, and under age 12 on sailings after August 1. The crew will be vaccinated.