Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is preparing to restart operations from San Juan, Puerto Rico, by departing on her first test sailing. The vessel will become the 15th in the fleet to be back in service.
Explorer of the Seas Begins Test Cruise
The next ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet to restart operations will be Explorer of the Seas, but to do that, the ship is operating a test cruise. She departed her homeport of San Juan in Puerto Rico on October 29 to stress test protocols with volunteer passengers.
It’s the first embarkation cruise from San Juan since cruise lines first suspended operations in March 2022. Explorer of the Seas is sailing a two-night voyage that will include a visit to St. Maarten. It’s a big deal for Puerto Rico as so far since suspensions started, the island has only been accepting port calls rather than dealing with embarkation passengers.
The simulated sailing is operating under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements as part of the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO). It’s one of the pathways the CDC allows for cruise ships to get back to service.
A range of different scenarios will take place during the voyage with at least 10% of the capacity of passengers onboard. This includes activities during dining and at entertainment venues. The CDC details everything about a test cruise right here.
From November 1, 2021, a temporary Conditional Sailing Order extension will remain in place until January 15, 2022. From that date, the CSO will no longer be in place, and cruise lines will operate a voluntary program in coordination with the CDC.
As long as the test cruise is successful and the CDC is happy, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas will be allowed to resume guest operations on November 7, 2021. The ship is scheduled to offer seven-night Caribbean cruises from San Juan.
The first return voyage will be to the Southern Caribbean, including calls at St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, and the final visit will be to St. Kitts. The ship will return to San Juan on November 14, 2021. Explorer of the Seas will be the 15th in the fleet to be back in service, and she will be followed by Navigator of the Seas out of Los Angeles in California on November 19, 2021.
When it comes to protocols for Royal Caribbean guests sailing from San Juan, guests 12 and above must show proof of complete vaccination. All guests will have to show proof of a negative test result before boarding. Guests will also have to follow the local requirement of Puerto Rico if traveling to the island for the cruise.
Explorer of the Seas is 137,308 gross tons with a guest capacity of 3,286 at double occupancy. However, the ship won’t be sailing at full capacity to allow for social distancing onboard. There are 1,185 international crew members who are all fully vaccinated.