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US cruise: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Freedom of the Seas will sail on June 20. Credit: Royal Caribbean/Shutterstock

Royal Caribbean gets US cruise go-ahead - when can Brits go on America cruises?

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Updated on:

Royal Caribbean marked an exciting step forward for cruise holidays yesterday after the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) approved a test sailing in the USA.

Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to get this approval.

Michael Bayley, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, shared the "acceptance of request to conduct a simulated voyage" on Facebook on Tuesday.

"After 15 months and so much work by so many during very challenging times," he posted. "To all our colleagues, loyal guests and supporters all over the world I am proud and pleased to share some bright and wonderful news!"

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Freedom of the Seas, based in Miami, will be permitted to sail with volunteer passengers starting on June 20.

The voyage will be the very first cruise ship to head out of a US port since the outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent lockdown in March 2020.

According to CDC guidance, a trial cruise must last at least three days and two nights.

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To best simulate a cruise, there should at least 10 percent of normal passenger capacity and social distancing should be in place during meals, entertainment and excursions.

After the test cruise, Royal Caribbean will be required to provide an assessment and identify any deficiencies.

The line will then be able to apply for a conditional sailing certificate which would be granted on a ship-by-ship basis - paving the way for the return of passenger cruising.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson told World of Cruising: "After 15 months of hard work and collaboration, today’s approval of our simulated cruises is the latest promising step in our path to return to sailing in the U.S. We look forward to welcoming our crew, loyal guests and supporters from around the world this summer."

The exciting cruise news comes after the CDC updated its restrictions for US cruise travel last week.

Under new American rules, cruise lines are no longer required to test fully vaccinated passengers before or after a sailing.

Miami
US cruises: The ship, based in Miami, will be permitted to sail with volunteer passengers. Credit: Shutterstock

Holidaymakers who have already contracted and recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days are also exempt from testing should they come into contact with a confirmed case of the virus - as long as they are symptomatic.

This easing of USA coronavirus measures applies to simulated and restricted sailings under the agency's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.

It impacts passenger ships carrying over 250 people (passengers and crew) intending to operate overnight cruises from territorial waters and waterways of the United States.

Rules do remain in place for non-vaccinated travellers, however.

Un-jabbed passengers need to be tested on the day of embarkation ahead of boarding and must be swabbed on the day they disembark and between all back-to-back sailings.

If unvaccinated guests come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus, they will need to be tested and potentially quarantine for 14 days.

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Anyone - vaccinated or otherwise - must be tested for Covid if they show signs or symptoms.

Royal Caribbean has implemented its own stricter rules, however. It states on its website all passengers 16 and older will be required to show proof of vaccination ahead of a cruise holiday.

So, while the latest news for the CDC regarding test cruises is undeniably progress, when will Britons be able to start cruising in US waters once again?

The good news is that the CDC this month moved the UK from level four category to level three.

The latter permits non-essential US travel such as for work or study.

However, the country has not yet lifted its ban on the majority of British nationals.

Nyc
US holidays: "The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole of the US," said the Government. Credit: Shutterstock
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What's more, America is currently on the UK's amber list which means upon return home you must quarantine in the place you’re staying for 10 days and take two COVID-19 tests.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's current advice states: "The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole of the US based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks."

The next update on the traffic light system comes on June 7 but while “quite a few” countries could be added, according to Boris Johnson, the USA is unfortunately not touted to be one of them.

The system is set to be reviewed every three weeks, however, so, for now, it's a waiting game.

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