The acceptance of the CDC for Royal Caribbean to perform test voyages onboard Freedom of the Seas has seen many scrambling to try and find a spot onboard.
The first simulated voyage, which departs on June 20 and returns to port on June 22, is one of the final steps for cruise lines to restart cruises. While one is planned for now, both the CDC and Royal Caribbean could choose or mandate one or more test cruises to take place.
Although the test cruises are not a typical cruise and will likely be a very different experience from what guests are used to onboard, sign-ups for the test cruises have been overwhelming. So how can you sign up to go on the Freedom of the Seas test cruise?
Signing Up for a Test Cruise
The sign-up process for a test cruise is reasonably straightforward. Guests simply fill in the forms, and they are signed up. You can find the forms for signing up for a Royal Caribbean test cruise here.
However, there are some restrictions to being picked.
First of all, the Volunteers of the Seas Facebook group, the group set up by Royal Caribbean for those interested in participating in test cruises, has 67.8K members. So the pool of volunteers is quite extensive.
The group has existed since the start of November when the CDC first detailed the plans for test cruises and is a great resource to get news and updates on the test sailings.
Those wanting to sign up for test voyages should comply with either of the below rules regarding vaccinations or being medically fit to participate:
- Proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized vaccine or a vaccine product that has received emergency use listing from the World Health Organization (WHO); or
- If not fully vaccinated, written documentation from a healthcare provider or self-certified statement that the volunteer passenger has no medical conditions that would place the volunteer at high risk for severe COVID-19 as determined through CDC guidance.
Passengers need to be at least 18 years old, so it won’t be a family vacation, and passengers need to sign a consent form to understand the risk they are taking. Other than that, guests can expect to be tested several times before the voyage and will have to participate in post-cruise testing as well.
Why Do The Cruise Lines Want To Do Test Cruises?
Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line have announced they will do test sailings in the coming weeks and months to comply with the CDC’s conditional sail order and the ability to sail with unvaccinated guests.
A question on many people’s minds is why the cruise lines choose to do test cruises if the CDC is relaxing the rules for vaccinated cruises. The rules and regulations for vaccinated cruises have been relaxed so far that they look like regular cruises again.
And the answer to that is simply this: With the busy summer season up ahead, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line are eager to do the test cruises as it is one of the few ways the line can sail with families with children on board.
Not only that, while the vaccination drive is going well in the United States, by no means is it over yet. Many have not been vaccinated, and many others plan to wait and see how things progress with vaccinations.
Others simply do not want to be vaccinated. This means many people would not have the chance for a vacation onboard a cruise ship if the cruise lines would choose to only sail with vaccinated guests.