The CDC has approved Mariner of the Seas for a Conditional Sailing Certificate after the vessel completed her test sailing from Florida just last week. The ship will be sailing on three and four-night cruises from her homeport of Port Canaveral starting today, Monday, August 23.
The start-up of the Voyager-class ship is significant; out of the 25 cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, 13 will be operational today. This makes it the first time since the start of the pandemic the cruise line has a majority of its fleet sailing the seven seas. The cruise company managed to achieve this significant milestone in just over two months.
Mariner of the Seas is sailing to the Bahamas, including Nassau and A Perfect Day at Cococay this week from Port Canaveral. The cruise ship will be operating these three and four-day (the four-day voyage adds a sea day) cruises until October, when she will switch to a Caribbean itinerary.
The Caribbean itinerary does include cruises to Labadee in Haiti, and although these voyages are still available online, Royal Caribbean did cancel calls to Haiti for Allure of the Seas in October, last week. At this time it remains unknown what the cruise line will do with the Mariner itinerary.
Mariner of the Seas completed her test cruise only last week, sailing from Port Canaveral on a voyage where the CDC could verify if the protocols that have been implemented on board are to the same high standard that has been implemented on the other Royal Caribbean cruise ships sailing from the U.S. This has now been confirmed, and the CDC issued the certification last Saturday, August 21.
The test cruises have been implemented for cruise operators who would like to sail with vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. Cruise lines that do not want to sail with unvaccinated guests must comply with at least 95% vaccinated guests onboard. That being said, from September 3 onwards, Royal Caribbean will require all guests worldwide to be fully vaccinated.
The Bahamas implemented new protocols last mid-August that interfere with the carefully laid plans from Royal Caribbean. The cruise line intended to sail with both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests to allow families with children to sail onboard.
However, the Bahamas now require all cruise ships to have 100% of the adult guests vaccinated and only allow exceptions for guests under the age of 12 and those with medical reasons for not taking the vaccine.
For cruises onboard Mariner of the Seas sailing from Port Canaveral, this means that from September 1, all guests age 12 and older are required to present proof of Covid-19 vaccination with the final dose of their vaccine administered at least 14 days before sailing.
For younger guests, it means guests ages 2 to 11 must undergo two more Covid-19 tests at the terminal, and before disembarking the ship, under two years of age, no testing is required or needed.
The second-generation Voyager-class Mariner of the Seas marks a significant milestone for Royal Caribbean as she becomes the thirteenth Royal Caribbean cruise ship to set sail once again.
The cruise ship was built in 2003, measures 139,863 gross tons, and can carry 3114 guests. She underwent a major $120 million refurbishment in 2018 that added several features under the Royal Amplification program; she even won Cruise Hive’s Refurbishment of the Year award.
The cruise line now has more than half of its ships sailing from the US, the UK, The Bahamas, and Singapore and is well underway to have all of its ships operational by the end of the year.