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Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Leaves Miami For Test Voyage

Florida Cruise Ships
Marta Lavandier
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Freedom of the Seas pulled away from PortMiami about 7 p.m. Sunday with a fully vaccinated crew and about 600 volunteer passengers.

Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas left PortMiami on Sunday night on the cruise company’s first simulated cruise to test its COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The ship left Miami about 7 p.m. with a fully vaccinated crew and about 600 volunteer passengers, many of them company employees. The two-day voyage includes a stop in CocoCay, a Bahamian island owned by the Miami-based cruise line.

The trip is a major milestone for the cruising industry after it came to a sudden halt last year during the COVID-19 pandemic and has not sailed with passengers for 15 months.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a conditional sailing requirements for cruise lines to resume revenue sailings. Options were for ships to execute a test voyage or mandate that 95 percent of the passengers were vaccinated against COVID-19.

Royal Caribbean opted for the test cruise for Freedom of Seas, which typically carries about 4,000 passengers.

However, the CDC sailing orders become moot July 18. A federal judge on Friday granted an injunction for the state of Florida in a legal challenge to the CDC’s authority.

Royal Caribbean had previously announced that passengers on revenue cruised were only “strongly” recommended to be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated guests must undergo COVID testing at their own expense.

Information from news partner The Miami Herald was used in this report.

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