After the longest test cruise that any Royal Caribbean cruise ship has performed so far, Oasis of the Seas has made her return to the Cape Liberty cruise port in Bayonne, New Jersey.
The first-ever Oasis-class vessel to operate from the New York City and New Jersey harbor area set sail on her test cruise on August 22. She has been cruising towards the Bahamas and called only at A Perfect Day at Cococay.
With her test cruise complete, Oasis of the Seas should now be receiving her Conditional Sailing Certificate from the CDC. This will allow the cruise line to sail with both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests if they choose to do so again in the future.
What is a Test Cruise?
A test cruise is a simulated voyage that a ship must undertake to sail with vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. During the test cruise, the CDC checks if the cruise line and the vessel comply with numerous protocols and rules the agency has developed to ensure sailing can be done safely. They do this by sailing under realistic conditions, with volunteers that act as passengers onboard.
The protocols that the CDC checked onboard Oasis of the Seas, and which the vessel had to comply with on its voyage to the Bahamas included:
- How the cruise line deals with guests that are confirmed or suspected of having COVID, including how to transfer these guests from their cabins to isolation and off the ship if necessary.
- Evacuation procedures for positive cases and all guests in case of an outbreak onboard.
- How the cruise line operates private island excursions and regular port excursions
- Onboard activities, mask-wearing onboard, and social distancing
- Embarkation and disembarkation, including check-in procedures
The CDC could also decide to check any medical facilities onboard, procedures for crew onboard, testing procedures, and much more. Once the CDC is satisfied the ship complies, it will issue a conditional sailing certificate.
Why Did Royal Caribbean Have to Do the Test cruise?
Royal Caribbean has chosen to put all of its ships sailing in or from the United States through simulated voyages. This would allow the cruise line to circumvent a 95% minimum vaccination mandate from the CDC.
However, the cruise line has chosen to sail with almost 100% vaccinated guests due to new Bahamas and US Virgin Islands policies. There is a small exception for guests under 12 years old and there are adjustments depending on where each vessel is sailing from. The cruise line is also still following guidelines from the CDC to keep everyone protected.
While the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order is set to run out by November, there is no saying whether it will be extended again. And if it does, the cruise line wants to keep the possibility open of sailing with vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.
What’s Next for Oasis of the Seas?
Oasis of the Seas will likely be receiving her certification in the upcoming days. Once all that is in order, the ship can start its operations from the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey. The port is right across from Manhattan and provides some of the most epic sail-aways anywhere on the planet.
On September 5, the 226,838 gross ton Oasis of the Seas will be setting sail for the first time in 18 months with paying guests. After a day at sea, she will call Port Canaveral, Florida, a Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Nassau, Bahamas, before sailing for another two nights back to Cape Liberty, New Jersey. From November 3, the ship will head south again and sail from Miami on 7-day Caribbean cruises.