Just in time for her first cruise, Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas received her conditional sailing certificate from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week. The cruise ship has now started cruising from her home port of Galveston, Texas.
Independence of the Seas became the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to set sail from Galveston since the pause in operations in March of 2020. After starting up an additional 4 ships from Friday to Sunday, Royal Caribbean now has twelve cruise ships in operation worldwide.
Royal Caribbean Back in Texas
Royal Caribbean is back in Texas now that Independence of the Seas has started its operations from Galveston on August 15. The 3,600 passenger, 154,407 gross ton Freedom-class cruise ship is the former largest cruise ship in the world. She is sailing on a seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary from Galveston and calling in Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, with a sea day at the start and end of the cruise.
The ship completed her test sailing earlier this month when she sailed a 4-day cruise from Galveston on August 1. It has been a tight schedule for Independence of the Seas. With her first cruise scheduled for August 15, Royal Caribbean only received the Conditional Sailing Certificate the ship needed to set sail with guests at the last minute.
Cruise ships need to perform these simulated or test cruises to show the CDC that all protocols and requirements onboard work and provide a safe environment for guests and crew members.
Also Read: 22 Ideal Hotels Near Galveston Cruise Port
Do Guests Need to Be Vaccinated?
While the ship has received all permissions to start operations, guests will also need to comply with various rules and regulations before they are allowed to come on board. For cruises onboard Independence of the Seas departing from Galveston, Texas, guests aged 12 and up must present proof of Covid-19 vaccination with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing.
Guests younger than 12 years of age do not need to be vaccinated as they are not eligible yet. Instead, a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before the ship sails and two more negative antigen tests at the pier are required. Guests younger than two years of age do not need to be vaccinated or tested.
Other requirements onboard include wearing masks. Guests are required to wear a mask on board the ship at all times, except when in open-air decks, in the pool, or any activity where guests can become wet, in venues designated for vaccinated guests only, in guest cabins, and at Perfect Day at CocoCay. Infants and toddlers up to age two do not need to wear a mask.
At the start of this month, parent company Royal Caribbean Group announced its intention to have at least 80% of its fleet operational by the end of the year. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is well underway to achieve this goal. So far, no less than 12 ships have resumed operations. These ships include the following:
- Quantum of the Seas: Sailing three- and four-night Seacations around Singapore
- Adventure of the Seas: Sailing week-long cruises to CocoCay, Cozumel, and Freeport
- Freedom of the Seas: Sailing three- and four-night Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay cruises
- Anthem of the Seas: Sailing on Seacations out of Southampton in the UK
- Jewel of the Seas: Sailing the Greek Islands with stops in Piraeus, Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete
- Serenade of the Seas: Sailing Alaska from Seattle with calls in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Icy Strait Point
- Odyssey of the Seas: Royal’s newest ship is sailing six- and eight-night Southern and Western Caribbean cruises out of Fort Lauderdale
- Allure of the Seas: Sailing seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises out of Port Canaveral
- Ovation of the Seas: Operating cruises out of Seattle to Alaska, including Juneau and Skagway
- Symphony of the Seas: The world’s largest cruise ship is sailing seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises out of Miami
- Independence of the Seas: The latest Royal Caribbean cruise ship to start operations, sailing seven-night Western Caribbean cruises out of Galveston, Texas
- Harmony of the Seas: Sailing the Mediterranean from Barcelona, stopping at Palma de Mallorca, Marseille, La Spezia, Civitavecchia, and Naples.
Besides four Royal Caribbean cruise ships starting this weekend, Mariner of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas are also restarting their operations in the coming weeks. Mariner of the Seas will sail from Port Canaveral, and Oasis of the Seas will make her long-awaited start on the U.S. East Coast from New Jersey.